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Pro Passing: A thinking mans Fifa?


As the newest member of the Fifa Soccer Blog team I feel its only polite if I introduce myself. My name is David Bryant or as most will know me from the forums Dave797, I’m a huge follower of the Fifa series and I’m delighted to have joined up with FSB to bring you guys the best possible Fifa coverage. I’d also like to extend a big thank you to the whole FSB team and community who have been very welcoming in my brief time on board.

Now that the pleasantries are out of the way, let’s get on to the good stuff. Today marks the beginning of a brand new FSB article series taking in all aspects of Fifa and the community. From in depth looks at the latest features to brand new ideas, this series intends to cover it all and as this is the maiden outing I think it’s only fair that I kick things off.

After getting my hands on Fifa11 at the latest Guildford play test I wanted to focus in on one of EA’s newest and most important game play features, Pro Passing. Does it work, what are its effects, has it destroyed ping-pong?

Article after the jump.

Pro Passing: A thinking mans Fifa?

This year EA’s simulation colours appear to be well and truly nailed to the mast and it’s the Fifa10 phenomenon ping-pong passing that finds itself in the firing line first. An exploit which blighted the experience for so many last year now has an arch nemesis in the form of Pro Passing. EA’s latest flag ship feature for Fifa11 is designed with the sole purpose of destroying ping-pong passing and all the problems it causes. But during this attack on the scourge of ping-pong EA may have just changed the face of the Fifa landscape for ever.

So what is Pro Passing? At its broadest level it’s a new contextual error system for the passing engine in Fifa11. But its scope is much wider than just adding error and clamping down on ping-pong. Pass speed, direction, player balance, bobble, curve, personality and weight are all now factors when trying to play the perfect pass.

The key thing with the Pro Passing implementation is that it’s subtle and well balanced. You aren’t suddenly going to find that simple five yard passes are going astray or that you can’t pass exactly where you want to. The thing that will jar you most initially is the new pass weight control. Even on assisted controls you are expected to judge the weight of passes to get them to your team mates accurately and crisply. This can range from holding down the pass button for a split second to play a very short range pass or two seconds to really fire the ball across the pitch. The ability to weight a perfect pass is now firmly in our own hands. 

In simple no pressure situations the contextual error applied is minimal and for good reason. But when in difficult situations that assisted controls used to perfect with ease, the Pro Passing contextual error really comes in to play. The error is especially exaggerated when first time passing over long distances, not only can the direction become wayward but the pass power is also massively reduced. Allowing these loose passes to be easily picked off by the now more aware and savvy defenders. This forces you to reserve quick one touch exchanges for close build up but also to try and use the more skilled players when doing it.

But it’s the things that Pro Passing knocks on and effects which revolutionise the way you approach and play Fifa11. After just a few games you find your philosophy on the game and way it should be played totally changing. The emphasis on pace, and power is now gone, paving the way for a new brand of simulation football. You start to realise that the Pro Passing system now rewards good football and that build up with the most intelligent use of passes and players is the key to success. The game becomes more methodical and almost like a game of chess. You find yourself constantly trying to manoeuvre your best players in to dangerous areas to try and strike that fatal blow to the opposition.

You can also see the improved personality plus system contributing too. The top playmakers due to their excellent passing and control stats now really shine through with players like Xavi and Fabregas able to spray the ball around with consummate ease. Fifa11’s vast orchestra finally has a worthy set of conductors at the helm.

The worst thing EA could have done in my opinion when tackling ping-pong passing would have been to simply outlaw the first time pass all together. Thankfully they’ve managed to balance things so well that instead of it being too easy or too hard, passing has now become an art form in its own right. It feels natural and organic with the contextual error never becoming frustrating or harming to the experience. It’s a shining example of how going back to basics with something as fundamental as passing can add so much more depth and realism to the game play.

When it comes to these new game play features all you can really ask is that EA implement them well and that the feature adds value to the game. With the new Pro Passing system EA have certainly succeeded. The work that has gone in to the passing system will no doubt go on to affect future Fifa games for many years to come but it’s the affect it has now that is most impressive. Even in its first outing the improvements Pro Passing makes are far reaching and potentially game changing. In terms of bang for your buck Pro Passing for me delivers on every level.

A thinking mans Fifa? I think so….

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