Every year, it is the same story, we go to Cologne, capture as much footage as we can, but in the end, we don't get to try many games on the showfloor. Sometimes though, we managed to find a free controller and we selfishly take a bit of our precious time to play ourselves. That's how I ended up playing both Fifa 11 and its main competitor PES 2011. Our quick impressions inside.
What a strange idea from EA to forbid us to film their games, preventing us from showing you high quality footage of Fifa 11. Much like in every new installment of the franchise, the developers of EA Vancouver did their best to improve last year's formula and fix the main problems that were pointed out (in particular the stupidity of the goal keeper), they added new animations and put a lot of effort in the modelling of the players. As a result, the game is very polished and smooth, the contacts between the players are even more realistic than before and it is a lot easier to use your body to protect the ball. Last but not least, shooting also feels more natural and you won't always shoot for the stars anymore - literally.
In such a short amount of time, it is however close to impossible to check the impact of the new features, like the Personality + for example. Overall, playing Fifa 11 looks quite similar to Fifa 10, which is not a bad thing considering how great it was. Don't worry though, the game is I think just as good as it was expected to be, if not even better. That being said, I do not think it would be fair to say anything more as I really had little time with the game. It is then safer to wait until the release of the demo on September 16, so everyone can see for themselves and share their feelings.
After a few matches on the beta the day it was released, I confess my expectations about this year's PES dropped enormously and I really thought that Gamescom would confirm my first impression. I had indeed little hope that I could be pleasantly surprised, so when I took the controller I was doubtful to say the least. Graphically speaking, PES 2011 is no major improvement on last year's installment, but then again, PES 2010 actually looked good at the time, especially when it came to character models and faces. The new animations they have been bragging about clearly show a huge step forward though I'm pretty confident the nitpicky gamers will still find a few things that just do not feel right. At least, it won't be necessary to put the game in slow motion in replay mode to actually realize that the animations looked good - oddly enough, they did not in normal speed mode. Talking about speed, the game is now much slower, which makes it more realistic to look at.
Therefore, you are obliged to rely on passing a lot more if you want to get close enough to gain a goal. And the good news is that the passing system has been improved a lot in PES 2011 as you can know put the ball exactly where you want it. You won't be able to blame the old automatic passes anymore, now you will be fully responsible for what happens. Some might be a little worried, thinking that this is going to make the game too complicated but it is really not. It does not take long before you can do what you want. The first passes are a bit tough, sure, but you won't need to practice for hours to do nice things with the ball. Shooting - one of the strengths of the franchise - is as good as ever but you cannot just do it from every position. You must pay even attention to where you are and where the defenders are if you want to have a chance to shoot correctly.
The area of the game that still needs some polish is the collision system between players. This indeed still lacks the realism and natural touch of Fifa's. Don't get me wrong, there have been some improvements too, but sometimes you get stuck because your player hits another player and he just stops. Dribbling is not that easy either because the inertia of the players makes it harder to control them, so it requires some getting used to before you can feel at ease. It might be an issue for some of you, which is why I think it is worth mentioning. I won't say anything about the sound effects (commentary, crowd etc) since it was difficult to hear anything on the showfloor but let's hope they did better. There was definitely some room for improvement there. This first contact with PES 2011 was actually really positive - against all odds - but we will need to have a proper - and longer - hands-on to really judge of the quality of this year's edition.