Impact Reviews: FIFA 16

It’s that time of year again! The latest instalment in the most popular association football game series in the world is back. FIFA 16 updates all of the in-game squads in accordance with real world transfers, makes a decent number of gameplay tweaks (some of which are more welcome than others) and makes it look very pretty indeed.

We’re now fairly well into the lifespan of the latest generation of consoles and the latest FIFA is certainly built with them in mind. For many people, including me, this is the first instalment bought for a PS4/Xbox One and the difference is noticeable. The power of the new consoles has been properly harnessed so the game’s audio and visual aspects are generally excellent. Player likeness has improved, the kits get dirty and the crowds are now just about passable as sentient beings. Speaking of which, the crowds’ chanting sounds great and the game’s soundtrack is characteristically well-chosen. Overall, therefore, it is great in technical terms.

“Player likeness has improved, the kits get dirty and the crowds are now just about passable as sentient beings”

Gameplay-wise it is a mixed bag. Some good ideas have made it into the game. Players can now recover from slide-tackles quicker than before, whilst the really top keepers make acrobatic, audacious saves and no-touch dribbling offers an interesting new way to beat opponents. A variety of less-welcome additions have found their way in. For better or worse, it feels a lot ‘looser’ than previous FIFA games. By that I mean one gets the sense that the IA components have actually been given more autonomy. An example might be a player suddenly going down whilst under pressure, whereas previous instalments had more set mechanisms for this which players gradually learnt over time. A lack of tight gameplay elements can make for some dramatic moments but this also leads to bizarre occurrences which are not exactly glitches but feel annoying and out of place.

Others have noted that dribbling can be very hard unless you are playing with a player who is rated at 90 or above. Similarly, corners can be very difficult to capitalize on unless the player taking them has an outrageous ‘curve’ statistic. Some people will argue this better reflects the real-life game, others will want to retain the distance between that game and this virtual one. Some other potentially fun changes could be that crazy long-shots are slightly easier to pull off, even with players who don’t possess high ratings in that area. And passing the ball has been noted to be a much quicker way to move around the pitch than in previous games.

“Corners can be very difficult to capitalize on unless the player taking them has an outrageous ‘curve’ statistic”

In terms of content included in the game it is, as always, a lot of bang for your buck. The extremely popular Ultimate Team is back and with a separate new part called FUT Draft, which similarly allows you to develop your own team but with immediate access to the best players in the game. Online friendlies are back and work fine, plus you will have the usual assortment of seasons (online and offline) and the addictive career mode. Access to all of these is thankfully made easy by a clean and intuitive menu system.

FIFA 16 contains lots of great stuff which will likely keep all football fans and/or gamers busy for the year to come. Some people may find a few of the new concepts slightly alien at first but, on the new consoles for sure, the developers have moved us that little bit closer to being as close to the action as is possible. And for that they should be commended.

Tom Welshman

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