FIFA 16 – Review “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”
‘FIFA 15 – The Gimmick Expansion’ was probably the working title Electronic Arts used while FIFA 16 was in development. FIFA 16 serves to prove the doubters correct, as it fails to make any meaningful changes yet again. Instead of overhauling gameplay, updating the visuals significantly or adding substance to neglected game modes the developers choose to focus on crowd pleasing trivial additives. New celebrations are one such addition, as players can now run to cameramen Steven Gerard-like or celebrate a winning goal with the warming up substitutes… I realise it sounds pretty cool, and to be fair it is, however I can’t help but feel that the effort of including such an extra could have been better deployed elsewhere.
Something which is appreciated is the inclusion of women’s football, as we can now play with all the international teams that were present in this years World Cup, however this involvement too feels like a gimmick, though one with potential, as usage is reserved only to “kick off” and tournament mode. Gameplay however feels unique to the female stars and is a pleasant change from the men’s game, this leaves a bitter taste of what could have been if EA had given it the time and effort the subject deserves. However props are still deserved as this hopefully marks a milestone in the FIFA franchise.
Few gameplay changes seem to have occurred where the men are concerned, though matches do now feel harder and more physical as the speed of the player has been toned down tangibly, accompanied with the AI being given a speed boost and more intelligence while defending this makes for more of a combative experience as tackles and loose balls are now more common and even more pivotal than ever. Attacking too has had a slight revamp, the power of finesse shots has now reached a happy medium, as over the previous generations its impact had ranged from “overpowered” to useless, now the ball can curl into the top corner or roll into the keepers gloves just as easily. The new “driven pass” can lead to more organic gameplay moments as unpredictable bounces can result in a player through on goal or set the opposition away on a counter attack.
While gameplay is of paramount importance, followers of the series have grown to expect a plethora of game modes and all of the previous years’ remain with some inconsequential additions. For years manager mode or “Career mode” has been the main reason I play FIFA, however my discovery of Sports Interactive’s Football Manager has revealed FIFA’s lack of depth. The one saving grace is the inclusion of the new “training mode” which allows you the manager to increase the attributes of five of your players each week through participating in numerous training exercises. This new feature allows in effect for any player to become world class with a little time, effort and much repetition. Career mode now also includes pre-season tournaments to try and combat the mundanity of July and it succeeds somewhat in doing so, however the transfer window remains the headline act as the tournaments merely delay the beginning of the league season. Thankfully players are given the opportunity to opt out of friendlies all together. Changes which I thought were required would have made the mode into a more personal experience, enabling the ability for managers from other teams to lose their jobs, creating your own managers appearance and like with the World Cup games being able to see real managers standing in the opposition dug out, these would have brought career mode closer to life.
Ultimate teams allure is one which has always escaped me, though I was curious to try out the new “Draft mode” feature. My appetite had quickly vanished. The mode allows you to create a one off fantasy team for players to participate in tournaments either online or off. The premise to me seems contradictory of FUT’s purpose as a squad builder, as it supply’s the player with the best footballers in the world for a limited period. FIFA ultimate team for now remains a game mode which ultimately falls short, however with its popularity ever present it doesn’t seem to be going anywhere fast.
FIFA is a game which has a tried and tested formula, therefore trying to alter it too much may have negative effects. Yet I am still left feeling underwhelmed by the slow evolution of the franchise. EA it seems cannot lose however, whatever its short comings I still believe FIFA 16 is the premier football game on the market. Not because of what it has changed does it reclaim this title, but for what it has left alone. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Too much.