The FIFA franchise has been a part of my life ever since I received my first PlayStation back in 97.
Since then I’ve had a rocky relationship with the game.
Over the past five years in particular, I’ve expressed my disappointment with the lack of development EA has put into its flagship football simulator. FIFA had become stagnant, predictable and rage inducing due to the lack of attention to detail and excessive time dedicated towards FIFA Ultimate Team.
However, after spending a solid 24 hours with FIFA 16, I can say with a big smile on my face that this is the best FIFA game EA has produced in a very long time.
So what’s different about this game and why do I like it so much?
The first thing that’s made a huge difference in FIFA 16 is the new mechanics introduced by EA. They have revitalised the gameplay entirely. So let’s go through them one by one.
Interceptions play a massive part of every single game. You can expect to see a minimum of 50 interceptions if you haven’t mastered the driven pass, something I’ll talk about next.
Within my review of the FIFA 16 demo, I praised the interception mechanic more than anything else due to it revolutionising how the game is played, which FIFA desperately needed.
After playing the full release of FIFA 16, I still believe that this is the case, however, EA must make sure that this mechanic doesn’t become too over-powered. I’ve been involved in matches where it is near impossible to string together more than three passes before they get intercepted.
The result of this affects the flow of the game, often leaving a disjointed rhythm. Personally, I believe that EA need to incorporate interceptions as an ability or trait that only players with high defensive attributes can pull off. Otherwise, like I said, it happens far too often.
The driven pass mechanic also plays a massive part in FIFA 16. Master this mechanic and master it now. If you don’t, you won’t be able to compete against those that do.
Defensive agility is something I’ve been asking for since the introduction of FIFA Ultimate Team. As your defenders are now more agile, coming up against a side full of pace isn’t the end of the world.
You no longer have to worry about miss-timing a tackle as you can pop straight back up and when covering a player, you are now able to turn just as quickly as they can, presenting you with a better chance to out muscle your opposition and regain possession.
My advice, don’t dive into tackles even though you can pop back up. Stay on your feet and jostle for possession. As long as you’re not up against an Ibrahimovich or a Yaya Toure, your defender will win possession.
The driven pass is the counter balance to interceptions. Interceptions are your defence’s best weapon, driven passes are your attack’s best weapon. Matches will be won and lost depending on who masters the driven pass the best. In some scenarios, it is the only way through the opposition’s defence.
Ankle Rotation and Fake Tackles:
The foot and ankle rotation is probably the least noticeable of the new mechanics. Whilst you do pull off some nice outside of the boot shots and passes, for the majority of the time not a lot has changed.
The ability to fake a tackle is a mechanic I haven’t seen much success with. I’ve tried it out a few times in FUT and the opponent has rarely noticed me do it. On the odd occasion they’ll dribble the other way or turn back but apart from that it doesn’t really do all that much.
Other notable mentions:
The new crowd chants really make a difference. The crowd feels much more interactive with what’s happening on the field. Unfortunately they’re still very rigid. Half the crowd does one movement, the other half does another. That's about it. This would be the next priority in future games, as it’s the only visual aspect that makes the game feel arcade-like.
The commentary is once again very well done. They’ve added in transfer notifications as you’re in game to give you more bits and pieces to watch while the ball is out of play etc.
Handballs are back which I’m very happy about. They don’t happen very frequently either which was the main downside of having them in previous games.
Let’s talk about some other features outside of the match-play:
The first thing I want to talk about is the training feature added in both player and manager career modes. This is not only really good fun but also brilliant for developing youth players into first team players. This has never been done before in FIFA and I’m very impressed with how it’s turned out.
The FIFA Ultimate Team Draft is something which honestly doesn’t concern me. While it is a fun mode to play, offering a different perspective to FIFA, I personally don’t find it anything too special.
The main benefit I can see with FIFA Ultimate Team Draft, is it allows users to use and experience the highest rated players in Ultimate Team, without needing to purchase them. A nice feature.
So what didn’t I like about FIFA 16?
Well there’s not that much actually, which is great to say. It’s more of what I felt was missing, rather than what needs to be changed.
I really wanted to see a ‘create yourself’ option in manager mode, even if it was simply the same procedure as the ‘create your pro’ mechanic.
I also really want to see the be-a-pro mode to taken to new heights. The training feature I mentioned earlier is fun and different, which is a step in the right direction, but there needs to be more than that. We’ve seen what can be done when looking at 2K15 as an example. Now that’s a be-a-pro mode that nailed it.
Overall FIFA 16 is vastly improved this year. The inclusion of interceptions and the increased agility of the defenders has created a much closer battle between defenders and attackers that’s been missing for quite some time. The gameplay, once again, feels far more realistic as it does each year, but it’s the other modes and features that need to be focused on from this point forward. The new training featured shows EA going in the right direction, which is very pleasing to see.
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