The FIFA series is usually one you can rely on, year in, year out, to deliver a solid football game with just enough tweaks to the gameplay for gamers to notice the difference. It can even last some players for the whole duration between each release due to their love of football and the enjoyment FIFA brings; I am one of these players. Can EA Sports’ FIFA 16 bring fans and gamers worldwide the best football game we’ve seen so far?
Well, I wouldn’t go that far. There have been some changes but not all are welcomed with open arms.
There’s no better place to start than with the gameplay. As noted in the demo, the pace of play has been slowed down, thus putting a greater emphasis on ball control and build-up play. It’s not much slower but it’s certainly noticeable. The problems arise when first touches are randomly heavy and the key to dominating a game, passing, has severe accuracy issues. At times, passing assistance gets itself rather confused as to which player it should be aiming for and which direction it should be looking at; it’s not ideal and the issues aren’t prevented by taking a calm approach to seemingly set up a pass perfectly.
On the positive side, should the ball control not let you down then some of the touches are exquisite during a well carved out attack. Shooting has gotten a reality check; generally you cannot go for a shot off-balance, instead, it’s best to line them up to avoid an embarrassing shot from trickling to the opposing keeper. Just like in the real sport, if you get the ball to feet inside the box you’re odds on to stick it away, especially with the finesse shot modifier which is much improved this year. Scoring goals has seldom felt better and more rewarding in the FIFA series.
Formations have greater balance too, so where in the previous game there’d be massive gaps on nearly every counter attack, the A.I. tends to fill the holes more efficiently during the transition from attack to defence. There’s far less need to set the team’s mentality to a defensive type at the start of a match to account for this usual problem.
The A.I. on the whole has increased intelligence, so playing against the computer in offline play, even on semi-pro, is more difficult and brings variation in the opposition’s play. Goalkeepers’ behaviour however, is one of FIFA’s great mysteries. Sure, they have their off days on the pitch but to go from making a world class, one-handed, reaction save to palming the ball into their own net is a scary sight. Punching the ball out on crosses and coming out to sweep up behind the defence are quite frequent occurrences for these Neuer wannabes.
Apart from the feistier slide tackles, the driven pass button and referees being overly lenient there’s not much more to be said about the gameplay. Although it’s worth noting that the collision mechanics can be hit and miss, meaning fouls can be missed for terrible tackles and I’ve even seen fouls given against the player in possession when someone else is pulling at them.
Now, for the game modes, I’m not going to go in-depth on the likes of Kick Off or Seasons, they’ve barely changed. Instead I want to first pick up on the inclusion of the FIFA Interactive World Cup mode. The aim is to find the best virtual players in the world and we can all have a go at testing our abilities from our own homes in the hope of winning enough games to progress further. Having all teams with the same overall rated players keeps everyone on a level playing field and the fact that only a certain amount of games can be played per person, makes sure someone doesn’t just garner the most points by playing a billion games.
The offline Women’s International Cup is the only other brand new full mode to speak of and let’s be honest it’s probably only been shoehorned in with the hope that it’ll push gamers to use the women’s teams. Twelve of these International teams are included and I can say that they really don’t feel any different to use. That lack of differentiation is as much a good thing as it is a bad, I believe that this will only attract gamers that are already fans of the teams to actually use them. I don’t know the players on the rosters, hence given the choice of picking from teams that feel the same, I’m going to be drawn to what I know, the men’s teams. Had they put a female career in or some kind of women’s addition to Ultimate Team, then people would be less likely to overlook these new teams.
FUT Draft is a new feature within the Ultimate Team side of things. Aside from the cost to enter both online or offline incarnations, it’s a great way to be able to use a real top drawer group of players. It lets you pick from a selection of players for each position, sometimes including TOTW stars and Legends, with the sole aim being to create a team that has maximum chemistry. You’ll then play up to four matches until you lose and depending how far you progressed, there’ll be a decent prize paid out at the end such as Gold packs!
I warmed to this idea and the only drawback is the handful of formations to pick from at the start of drafting, it cannot be changed afterwards and it might not offer any that you’re comfortable using.
There are a few little tweaks to Ultimate Team with the most useful being when swapping players in and out of the squad it’ll show beforehand whether it’ll change chemistry for better or worse, if at all.
Manager and Player careers have benefited from the addition of the pre-season tournaments; it’s obviously more fruitful as a manager due to the financial boost they can give during the transfer window but equally a nice touch for a player to participate in. There’s also the new training feature that allows you to choose which players take part in specific types of skill games to improve the attributes. It only lets five players per week participate, however, it’s cool to be able to play these skill games yourself to have a hand in their progression, or to fail and stunt their growth.
Pro Clubs is still the best mode for sporting teamplay, getting friends together for up to 11v11 play. Sadly, they’ve not really added anything to freshen it up this year and at the moment there are a few accomplishment issues where they randomly reset themselves to zero.
There was never any doubt as to whether FIFA 16 would offer enough modes to entertain the masses, it’s just unfortunate that for many they’ve rested on their laurels and changed very little that truly adds a breath of fresh air. I was ready to dive two-footed into FIFA 16 when it arrived; the excitement couldn’t be contained. But like Emmanuel Adebayor in his football career, my enthusiasm for the game began to wane rapidly.
Don’t expect FIFA 16 to be better than FIFA 15, because whilst it has delivered a few gameplay changes, they aren’t all good. Most of the matches online become scrappy affairs due to the constant high pressure from most gamers. For every goal I score that makes me go ‘wow that was an awesome move’, there are literally tens of frustrating moments of random errors from players in-game and bad refereeing decisions.
I have a love/hate relationship with FIFA now but it’s still the best football game out there for creating excitement, having plenty to do and the amount of official teams is superb.
FIFA 16 is good, however it should be a lot better by its own standards.