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FIFA 16 Review

Replay Value:
Online Gameplay:
Overall Rating:
EA Sports
EA Canada
Number Of Players:
Release Date:
September 22, 2015

EA Sports continues to impress this year with another top-tier production designed specifically to cater to both die-hard fans and newcomers alike. This combination of accessibility and streamlined depth has been a common theme in this year’s sports titles from Electronic Arts, and I appreciated it in both Madden NFL 16 and NHL 16 . Now, here it is again in FIFA 16 and additionally, the developers have taken another step in the refinement and authenticity of the gameplay. Once again, you can tell EA Canada listened to the feedback from last year’s iteration and worked to polish and hone every aspect of the latest entry.

The graphics are improved as well, as there are more animations and the raucous stadiums are more energized and detailed than ever. Players look a little better (if I’m remembering FIFA 15 correctly) and the in-game action, supplemented by a wide variety of camera angles, is exceedingly dynamic. This generation, we’re noticing a flashier, more TV-centric presentation of sports games, which gives the interactive experience a heftier dynamic appeal. Even when the camera is set back to see a large chunk of the field, the graphics remain crisp, clean and realistic. It’s certainly true that some camera angles make the game look better than others but that’s not much different than other sports games.

Once again, the audio cements an experience that’s just begging to be recognized as a progressive simulator. Sound is always a critical part of just about any popular sport but as any soccer aficionado will tell you, the sound of a loaded arena during a tight match is unparalleled in the world of athletics. EA tries to capture this as best they can, offering the player a mélange of appealing audio, ranging from subtle gameplay effects to the explosion of a hard-earned goal. The announcing is spot-on (with only a few minor flaws), the soundtrack is appropriately diverse and the field effects continue to impress throughout. In general, you really do feel as if you’re watching a real soccer match, which is an illusion any good simulator tries to produce.

FIFA has long since been a high watermark for video game sports and this year’s entry is no exception. With a new Draft Mode within the FIFA Ultimate Team and a bunch of additions and refinements to an already solid gameplay mechanic, FIFA 16 presents us with the most robust and well-rounded sports title of the new generation. But when a game, especially when it exists with a franchise that sees annual entries, strives to reach new levels and break a few boundaries, the comfortable and familiar take a back seat. In other words, while there’s no doubt in my mind that die-hard soccer fans will eventually adore the new FIFA , you have to embrace the changes. It doesn’t play exactly like last year’s effort and while that’s a good thing, you may initially be annoyed. Yes, you have to re-learn a few things.

It’s a definite challenge but the avid fans won’t shy away from that challenge, especially when they acknowledge EA Canada’s dedication to the sport. The team had several goals with the new FIFA , and one of them was to eliminate simple player speed as such a crucial gameplay element. Many had complained that a player’s speed was really all you had to worry about, as the other character stats always played second-fiddle to speed. That has been addressed here, so the matches automatically feel more balanced. It’s not just about lofting balls out to the wing so your super fast player can break behind the defense. That tactic can still work but now, you really have to consider the other factors, which do play a significant role.

Personally, I’ve always felt a little overmatched on defense. I could never get the hang of it. But defending in FIFA 16 seems like a more evenly-matched affair; I’m not merely trying to impede the player’s progress by tossing the kitchen sink at their feet. Now, slide tackles are a little more useful (I actually performed a successful one on my first try) and if I want to be deft and tactful, I can just try to poke the ball away. The better slide tackling is a big plus, because you’ll start using it in a variety of situations, and you finally feel as if you’re in full control on defense. One downside: Because defensive players have a lot more range this time, I’ve been tackled by players when I thought they were too far away. In fact, I think they can get me from too far away. Gotta take the bad with the good, I guess.