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Published on October 20th, 2010 | by Louis Garcia, Contributor

Review: FIFA 2011 (Wii)

I haven’t enjoyed a FIFA game this much since the GameCube days. I’ve kept up with the series since then, but have always found it lacking when it came to gameplay. And honestly, FIFA 2011 for Wii plays more like a Major League Soccer side on the pitch than an English Premier League team, but it has a new addition this year that makes it quite addicting: street soccer.

Two modes allow you to play street soccer: Streets to Stadiums and Hit the Streets.

Streets to Stadiums had me absolutely hooked for its entire five seasons. In it, players create a character who starts out playing soccer on the streets. These five-a-side matches are so fun they should be the template for EA’s next FIFA Street game.

Wall passing to yourself and teammates, constant back heels, crazy volleys in tight space, taking on your man one on one…it’s all in there and it’s all perfect. As someone who enjoys real street soccer quite often, I found the representation of its nuances to be quite accurate in FIFA 2011.

The ultimate goal in Streets to Stadiums is just that: to take your player from the dusty blacktop pitches to the glory that is Anfield or Camp Nou.

To get there players will have to perform well and earn fame. You gain fame by choosing up to three tasks you think you can complete in the upcoming match. Some can be as simple as stringing together five passes or scoring off a one-timer.

Players have to take a gamble when choosing which fame moments to shoot for because if you fail, points are subtracted from your fame score.

I found this to be similar to real life street soccer. Succeed at an audacious shot or dribble and you’ll be lauded for your class by your peers. Fail, and you’ll get an earful. It’s a real system of reward and repercussion that totally works.

In addition to gaining your player recognition, fame points will also unlock new cleats, goal celebrations and dribbling moves to customize your character with.

As you play through the mode, your created player will also gain experience points that can be used to increase his skills such as speed, heading or awareness.

The Hit the Streets mode is an exhibition mode featuring fanciful items like a power shot which can be turned off when you’re not in the mood for something resembling a Super Mario sports title.

The street soccer is miles better than the 11 vs. 11 found on the pitch. On the pitch your characters feel like they are on stilts. The game doesn’t utilize full 360 degree movement, and thus feels like a last-gen soccer game.

The “actual” soccer has an arcade feel to it. Playing as the above average Fredy Montero doesn’t feel any different than using superstar Lionel Messi.

Also adding to the arcade vibe is the fact that it’s much harder to shoot the ball over the crossbar than it is to actually get a shot on goal and force a save from the keeper who miraculously manages to barely push the ball around the post each time.

Most of your time spent playing 11 vs. 11 will be in Hit the Pitch and the lackluster Battle for Glory modes.

The Battle for Glory mode (similar to Manager mode in other versions) uses stars and transfer points instead of money when it comes to buying and selling players — a way to simplify the game for casual players on the Wii I assume. It’s problematic because it erases the fun of trying to lure top talent to your side.

If you have the required amount of stars and transfer points, you’ll get your player as soon as you select him and click on buy. It’s not rewarding and really takes away from the feeling of accomplishment when you assemble an unbeatable team of superstars that would make Chelsea envious.

Similar to Streets to Stadiums, players can choose a goal such as scoring two goals before a match to be rewarded points. Instead of fame points however, players receive points that increase the overall rating of your team and earn you game boosters.

Game boosters are cards you can use to increase your teams skills in tackling or shooting for the duration of the match. They can be saved for difficult matches and even combined to make stronger boosters.

Ultimately, Battle for Glory is pretty bare bones. It does what it needs to do, but for true soccer aficionados, not being able to tweak every part of your squad is a major blow to keeping the mode interesting for more than a season or two.

Playing online is limited to one on one and two on two matches. There is no lag (I played online by plugging in an Ethernet cord into my USB adaptor; I didn’t use the default WiFi) and players can log into an existing EA online account, create a new one or sign in as a guest.

Using an EA account is a definite plus because it allows you to search for others with accounts and add them to a friends list instead of wrestling with friend codes.

And although the online play feels a tad bit slower than normal matches, they were fun enough for me to add the first person I played against and rematch him to five more games of footy late into the night.

The only major drawback is that there is no way to pause the game for subs or tweaking your squad when online. If there is, it must be mighty hard to access because I tried everything plausible. I also found it odd that the far superior street mode can’t be played online.

Tournaments are present and allow players to win anything from the MLS Open Cup to the FA Cup. It’s not a real robust mode, but it’s there for those interested in winning the virtual representation of their favorite silverware.

Like any sports title, FIFA 2011 has its share of problems.

The controls for the game take some getting used to and are less than ideal. Gamers who choose to use a nunchuck and wiimote to play are forced to using a single button for both ground passes and aerial crosses. This doesn’t quite work for a sport that demands precision.

Thankfully a classic controller can be plugged in. Those looking to put some serious time into the game against stronger opponents will have to purchase one or look forward to being frustrated as your players screw up that final ball.

The Wii version also seems to be skewed towards the casual crowd with basics like camera control and difficulty settings.

Players can choose easy, medium and hard, and camera settings consist of selecting height and angle. No choosing the tried and true tele setting from other FIFA games and no choosing more difficulties as you slowly master the game is a silly way to make the game more casual friendly. Similar silly omissions pertaining to game settings persist throughout the game.

FIFA 2011 doesn’t have the gloss of its HD big brothers — or the much better simulation experience — but is still a lot of fun to play. In fact, I have more fun playing this version.

The street mode really shines and carries the game. I’d like to see this mode explored further in future iterations of the series — especially in the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 versions.

If you own an HD console, go with that version if you want a more realistic product. However, if you only own a Wii, and if street soccer grabbed your attention, you won’t regret picking this up. Just remember to purchase a classic controller to get the most enjoyment out of it.

[xrr label=”Rating: 7.5/10″ rating=7.5/10]

+Street soccer is a blast.
+Streets to Stadiums mode will have you hooked for all five seasons.
-Soccer on the pitch with a full team is mediocre at best.
-Not enough team customization.

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