The not so beautiful game.
Once again, the English football season kicks off, and with it comes EA’s yearly cash cow. Much like Madden, FIFA is one of the publisher’s biggest earners, due in no small part to FIFA Ultimate Team.
The first thing I noticed upon launching the game is how little has changed with the menu. This wouldn’t be a problem if it wasn’t so cluttered. There are several menus and sub-menus, and even sub, sub-menus to tackle.
Platforms: PS4, XB1, PC
Straight off the bat EA wanted to set up my FIFA Ultimate Team (FUT) profile. This teaches the basics of Ultimate Team and opens a few packs for free. Just think of it as that dodgy looking stoner standing outside the local store, trying to get the kids hooked on his wears; Try this for free, but you’re gonna need to pay if you want a real hit! Better players come from better packs, and they will cost. Players can use the in-game currency to purchase packs, but the the game dishes that out like Scrooge McDuck.
Once I created a team, I then had to prove myself online. This is where FIFA 16 excels. EA have had years to perfect the online experience, and by most accounts, it’s seamless. Taking my FUT online and finding people to play was easy and I had very little issues. Of course, the result of the match depends on the ability of the team, and with my starting players I had a battle on my hands when I encountered other FIFA players who had paid lots to increase their squad.
The single players is where I found myself at home. All of the modes that one would expect are there. Manager mode, Player mode, Tournaments and Exhibition. One much publicised addition is the introduction of women teams. But playing the fairer sex is limited to international teams only, in a tournament mode. It’s nice that the feature is there, but adding the Woman’s Football Super League wouldn’t have been too difficult. But hey, they need to have something to sell next year, right?
Another new addition adds the ability to press in the R stick and turn on the FIFA Trainer, which acts as a guide to help with next best actions. It would be a cool little feature, especially for those new to the game. If it worked. Most of the time it was telling me to slide tackle, when I was nowhere near any other player. How about showing me the buttons for speeding up my player instead? I would recommend only using it if players are unfamiliar with the controls. On the plus side though, FIFA 16 introduces a few new changes with pre-season tournaments, as well as a more in-depth player training feature.
Unfortunately, the game misses in a lot of areas. Firstly, scoring from a set piece, something that used to be near impossible last year, is incredibly easy this year. Whether from a corner, or from a cross in from the wings, it’s almost impossible not to score. EA needed to change the difficulty of those plays, but this has gone too far in the other direction. The game also continues to suffer from sluggish passing and poor AI, as it has for years now. It hampers the flow of the match and causes frustration in tense games.
They have also failed to solve the problem where AI players just refuse to run to a deadball, even if they are mere feet away. The problem that stands out the most however is the commentary. There clearly has been little effort on the part of EA to record a variety of lines. Alan Smith and Martin Taylor return for this year’s game and they do a sterling job of delivering the lines, but they just have so few of them. In many of my games I heard the same lines repeated 4 or 5 times. It’s just lazy and breaks some of the game’s immersion. I could turn it off, but again, that takes something away from the experience.
FIFA 16 has a few nice additions, but failure to fix some of the franchise’s ongoing problems, along with a massive focus on FUT leaves it feeling stale; especially seeing as PES seems to be scoring highly in reviews. My only fear is that with Konami allegedly moving away from console games, EA may continue the franchise without feeling the need to innovate and improve. There just isn’t enough here for me to recommend buying FIFA 16, if you already own last year’s version. If you are hooked on FUT and only really come to FIFA for that, then you will be well served here, but then again, what’s stopping you from continue enjoying it on FIFA 15?
Review copy of game provided by publisher.