Shot on goal
There is one word permeating everything regarding FIFA 16: “authentic.” Whether it is on EA Canada’s campus, in interviews, or written in blog posts—there it is. Every facet of the soccer franchise’s newest installment aims to deliver the most authentic experience that EA can provide. Sound is imported directly from real stadiums, facial scans make your favorite players recognizable from a distance, and the controls—by golly, the controls.
When FIFA 16 arrived at the office, I was a little rusty. I hadn’t put in an exceptional amount of hours on FIFA over the past year, but I had decided to truly re-learn the game inside and out. Luckily, for new players or those honing their skills like me, EA has included the FIFA Trainer, An overlay that can easily be switched on and off with a press of the right joystick, the trainer shows the player two options of moves optimal for the current situation. When defending, commands like “Switch Player” and “Slide Tackle” may appear, or “Through pass” and “Lob Pass” for a player on offense.
If you wish, you can manually set the skill level on the trainer. Otherwise, it will analyze your rank, and start suggesting similarly leveled commands. As you get better, more advanced options make their way onto the overlay. It wasn’t long before “Finesse Shot” and “Jockey” displayed on my screen, and my character (now playing midfielder for the Sounders) was making a name for himself.
Storyline is something that one normally doesn’t focus on during a sports game, yet sports-based movies like Miracle and Invincible are very popular in Hollywood. FIFA 16, similarly, has found the correct way to promote the story of your characters and teams in the sports video game genre. Using an impressive set of algorithms, FIFA twists and pulls statistics to find what makes your squad exceptional and interesting in the current point of their career. Then it tells that story through overlays and voiceovers.
Perhaps your line-up has the top offense in the league and is going up against the one with the best defense. Or maybe your custom character was able to score a hat trick in the past game, and is looking to continue their score-streak. In my case, my mustached up-and-comer was getting recognition for his amount of assists. Whatever your story may be, FIFA 16 does a wonderful job of making each and every season feel unique and special.
If you prefer a bit more competition, the hugely popular FIFA Ultimate Team (FUT) is back in FIFA 16 with some fresh features and improvements. Most importantly, is the newly implemented Draft mode. Picking from a draw of five for each position, players optimize their teams, focusing on chemistry and skill. After filling out your roster, they’ll compete either online versus other players or against AI opponents in a four match challenge. The more matches you win, the better loot you get. Draft mode’s goodies aren’t free, however, costing a moderately hefty entrance fee of 15,000 coins, 300 FIFA points, or a draft token.
The most exceptional new feature in FIFA 16 is that Women’s international teams have been included for the first time ever in the FIFA series, and excitingly are not just a swap of models and skins. The female players move differently, control differently, and feel like a completely different game. Lighter on their feet than their male counterparts, the women’s games feel quicker and sharper. When not progressing my character through career mode, the Women’s International Team game was a consistent go-to; seeing Solo, Morgan, and Rapinoe take the pitch via my gaming console was long overdue, but still very welcome.
Updates to the AI since FIFA 15 make me feel less alone on the team when playing alone. The computer-controlled opponents react and move to intercept passes based on the opposing team’s movements. The midfield is no longer a blase section of the pitch, just meandering downtime between offense and defense, but has become a warzone for possession and pacing.
As I continued playing through FIFA, I appreciated more and more of the detail that EA put into the game. Each of the nine new stadiums were gorgeous and sculpted down to the last chair, with each venue able to display several different weather types. Watching players collide and seeing the physics engine react in real-time instead of scripted animations made each contest different and entertaining. Passing with purpose helped me blaze down the pitch to get a shot at the goal. I also learned how to punch in my favorite celebration after a perfect cross/game winning goal (of course it’s the robot), which made the game that much more enjoyable.
However, all of those details are not without flaw. By providing near infinite possibilities, FIFA 16 muddles the clarity of the game. When you first load it up, the menu screens alone are confusing. The plethora of choices unfortunately make the UI appear to be the menu of a corner diner. Oh, I can get Chinese dumplings or a grilled cheese sandwich or a chicken parmesan? A more curated amount of options would have gone a long way in increasing the game’s accessibility.
Overall, FIFA 16 is a soccer game for “football” fans, people who live in the minutia that exists on the back of sports trading cards. It is a game that pays respect to that dedication, and succeeds in doing it justice. Unfortunately, more casual fans will most likely miss the loving touches laid down by the franchise and will probably find the amount of commands and the learning curve intimidating.
|Developer: EA Canada • Publisher: EA • ESRB: E – Everyone • Release Date: 09.22.2015|
FIFA 16 is a beautiful game about the beautiful game. Driven by a need for authenticity, EA has created an unparalleled soccer simulation that improves upon FIFA 15 in every aspect. While the game’s elaborate controls and elite presentation still make it challenging for the uninitiated, steps have been taken to help welcome new players.
|The Good||Women’s National Teams have been successfully brought to a triple-A title, and they play amazingly.|
|The Bad||Unfortunately, the drive for realism makes the game less accessible for those new or unfamiliar with the series.|
|FIFA 16 is available on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, and PC. Primary version reviewed was for Xbox One. Review code was provided by EA for the benefit of this review.|