So September’s done, which means only one thing. a new version of FIFA has hit the stores… oh and rAge is around the corner; oh and it’s nearly Halloween, oh and Spring is here and.. okay fine lots of things happen in September but the one we are talking about today is the new version of FIFA which I’ve been putting through its paces over the last few weeks.

I’m a massive football supporter and the FIFA titles are the ones that I normally head back to all season long in the run up to important games for my club, Liverpool, and so for me the realism and accuracy in the players is one of the defining issues for me – but official branding and graphics only goes so far and the longevity of any sporting title is in the gameplay and modes on offer. So lets run through this quickly and see what EA has offered up this year.

Graphics

Fifascreen

EA make a huge effort every year to map all of the top players faces, body movements and styles – and this year is no exception. One of my favourite things about FIFA is that you can see who the players are simply by how they are running and moving on the field as they mimic their rea- life counterparts to near perfection.

The stadiums are expertly rendered and you can feel the vibe change throughout the different arenas with the most advanced crowd rendering and reactions yet. It isn’t an uncommon experience for people to wander past while you are playing and for them to mistakenly believe you are watching a live game…but it is by no means perfect.

Once again FIFA has failed on the rendering of the eyes and any close ups of the faces bring the startling failures to light. Looking into their eyes is like staring into the depths of an abyss with nothing but death and despair staring back. It really is quite jarring but thankfully this is only an issue during the beginning of the match when the teams are lining  up and after the game starts the glorious graphics are back.

Gameplay

FIFA is a game where you need to take the ball and stick it into the opposing team’s net, oddly enough that aspect of gameplay hasn’t changed at all and that is still the goal. Non-sporting fans will never understand the passion that this embodies in people or the incredible intricacies that the sport has.

The most trumpeted enhancement to this year’s version of FIFA is the off the ball dribbling, where you are now able to shimmy and fake your movements off the ball to trick the opponent into moving the wrong direction.

Pulling off fake moves and sending an opponent in the wrong direction is hugely satisfying and from my experience it really does work extremely well, if you get it right. As with all real sporting simulators the difference between executing a perfect move and fluffing it massively is miniscule and it all depends on your ability as well as the skills of your virtual character under your control.

Knowing which character is better at which skill is part of the learning curve and seasoned players will definitely have the advantage here, but will still be challenged with the enhancements that FIFA 16 has included.

However it’s not all great as the passing in FIFA still feels overly sluggish and you will quickly realise that you will want to use through balls far more often than standard passing to get that fluid motion that you will need to overrun your opponents.

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Different Modes

As always FIFA is choc-full of different gameplay modes like exhibition games, full seasons, grow your pro, European league, international tournaments and the always popular FIFA Ultimate Team.My personal favourite is the seasons experience where you can take charge of any of the hundreds of licenced teams and leagues and experiencing what it is like to manage your favourite team and take them all the way to the top.

This includes a fully-functional transfer system with scouts and windows along with the ability to assign specific training to specific players every week to enhance your players abilities.

FIFA Ultimate Team is pretty much the Hearthstone of football where you are given a random selection of player cards which you use to create the best team you can, while taking into account the different ways the cards buff each other. Then you take your team into tournaments and compete to win extra coins which you can then use to buy new packs and improve your team.

Or you could whip out your wallet and pay to get some quality players to speed up this process and then challenge the rest of the world. Personally it’s not my favourite part of the game but it is hugely popular and therefore is obviously back and probably better than ever.

There is also the new inclusion of the female teams in FIFA 16 but I’ve covered that already in another post

Online Experience

Being based in South Africa makes the online experience different than it would be in many other countries. Our Internet is still not up to first world standards and even the lucky ones with fibre connections aren’t saved from poor online experiences with our country being so far from Europe that we are often still subjected to bad lag online.

The first thing we always need to check is how the game plays if our Internet is down and thankfully EA have not put anything behind an online firewall that isn’t absolutely required. You can enjoy the entire single player experience without ever going online and while being online adds a social element with leaderboards and the ability to share your experience, it is entirely optional which is the way all games should be made.

I did manage to enjoy a couple of online season games against opponents and to be honest I was quite surprised at how well that worked. Finding games was fast enough and the lag in game was more than acceptable with me being able to hold my own against equally-matched opponents.

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In The End

Obviously comparisons will be made between FIFA 16 and PES 16, In my brief experience with PES the gameplay felt more complex than FIFA but the game also feels like it is missing a lot of the experiences that FIFA can offer. While previously FIFA won out every time due to the far superior licensing and gameplay I think it’s fair to now say that the comparison is much closer.

I prefer the FIFA experience due to the additions of  extra modes, licensed deals and the overall experience. Whether it is superior when it comes to gameplay will continue to be argued by fans from either side. However what is quite clear is that FIFA 16 is the better game for newcomers with a built in, extensive training mode and a plethora of options to make the game easier with a range of passing and shooting assistance options.

The one thing that did drive me insane is the consistent mistakes the commentators made, for example calling the game a tight game while I’m leading 5-0 or saying the opponent is leading while the game is 1-1. It definitely broke the immersion and is something I expect EA to patch very soon.

For the next 12 months I personally will be invested in FIFA. It hasn’t let me down at all this year.

 

FIFA 16
Summary
EA Sports have taken a fantastic game and tweaked it to make it just that little bit better. The passing mechanic feels slightly worse but in the end that is also forcing players to utilise the entire range of passing abilities so it is possible that this is by design. FIFA 16 is the best FIFA to date.
8.4
FIFA 16 was reviewed on Xbox One

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