FIFA 16 Review – The Beautiful Game

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Developer: EA Canada

Publisher: EA Sports

Platforms: Xbox One (Version Reviewed), PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PC

Release Date: September 22, 2015

We are an expectant bunch when it comes to FIFA, and that’s probably because we’ve been spoiled with a series that has continued to innovate since the late 2000’s. Last year’s release arguably didn’t follow the trend. In my opinion, the result had more in common with the David Moyes era of Manchester United management; the foundation was there, but the performance on the pitch was disappointing. A heavy reliance on pace and a disjointed balance between attack and defense were just some of the issues that gave the game an arcade-heavy feel.

Fortunately, the team at EA Sports have been very respondent towards last year’s failings, noting the areas that were lacking and doing their best to encourage us that this year will be different. With the Pro Evolution Soccer series gaining steam once again, this is a crucial year for the team at EA to encourage us that FIFA’s gameplay isn’t slowly slipping into mediocrity.

This Is Football

The first thing you’ll notice when jumping into a match in FIFA 16 is how much slower everything feels compared to last year. This reduction in speed allows you to take the time to consider your next move, and you’ll need to think carefully as the game isn’t as forgiving as it has been in the past. Pace abusers will be stopped in their tracks, and splitting the defense with a through ball or a mazy run is much harder to achieve, and rightly so. The addition of the new Passing With Purpose feature allows players to make direct, decisive passes across the park. However, I feel that there are still too many instances of ping-pong passing in the game, which is an issue that has resurfaced in the last few years.

you’ll need to think carefully as the game isn’t as forgiving as it has been in the past.

EA have focused heavily on defensive improvements this year, and as a result, defenders now benefit from improved tackling animations, better defensive AI, and a new Defensive Agility feature that allows defenders to track skilled attackers and close them down with greater ease. Midfielders also play a much bigger role in the center of the pitch by creating build-up play and intercepting opposition passes, and wingers can use Dynamic Crossing to apply a higher degree of finesse when targeting a player in the box.

Scoring goals is now a much harder task, but there’s a greater sense of satisfaction when the ball finally hits the back of the net. The new Clinical Finishing feature offers a larger variety of ways in which to score, and the addition of No Touch Dribbling allows attackers to trick their defensive counterparts in new ways. No previous game in the series has managed to achieve such a realistic balance across all areas of the pitch in the way that FIFA 16 has managed to accomplish.

Despite these improvements, there are still downsides to FIFA 16’s gameplay, and nearly all of them revolve around the game’s AI. Last year’s goalkeeping overhaul felt like a rush-job, resulting in plenty of gaffs from the men between the posts. Goalkeepers have been heavily improved in FIFA 16, yet familiar issues still arise, such as making incorrect judgments and failing to pull off easy saves.

No previous game in the series has managed to achieve such a realistic balance across all areas of the pitch…

There’s a lingering feeling as though you’re never confident that your goalkeeper is fully in control of what he’s doing, and that goes for your teammates as well. Fully powered headers can occasionally bounce off a player’s head like a flat football, and an easy pass will sometimes control so poorly that the ball will bounce into the path of an oncoming attacker. Aside from these issues, the opposition AI provides a good challenge for those who like to play offline, adapting their styles to different situations and playing like their real life counterparts.

FIFA 16’s gameplay is complimented by a new FIFA Trainer feature, which can be toggled on and off mid-game. The trainer gives helpful suggestions during a match, and it can be altered for those who are new to the series, or veterans who desire extra assistance in enhancing their talents further. It’s a neat addition and a beneficial tool for players of all skill levels.

Next: Presentation, Game Modes, & Our Verdict