It's that time of year again, time for us to review the latest footballing offering from EA Sports.
It marks the first full release on the Next Gen consoles, but have EA lived up to the hype that the PS5 & Series X|S have brought to the gaming world? Or is it more of the same on the football sim front?
I suppose the best place to start is with the gameplay, which feels a lot more rewarding than it has done in years gone by.
We've spent a fair amount of time competing in a range of different modes across the title, both online modes such as FIFA Ultimate Team and Online Seasons, and offline modes, primarily Career Mode.
The first thing to note is that the meta for FIFA 22 is much different to recent releases, EA have put a lot more focus into rewarding those who try to play 'proper football'.
By this we mean that the quick one-two, over the top through ball isn't going to work every single time. In fact, we tried it ourselves in Ultimate Team and it rarely - if ever - came off.
High possession is the key to success in FIFA 22. If you dominate the ball, you will win more games than you will lose.
Whilst we are impressed with the changes to the attacking set-up in the game, the defending seems quite bleak, especially given the big improvements that EA has spoken of in the lead up to the games release.
Never have we seen a ball blocked more than we have in the handful of Ultimate Team outings that we have embarked on. We should add at this point that pace isn't the be all and end all for defenders either. A big, physical presence will stand you in much better stead than an 80+ pace with lower physicality.
And finally we must about goalkeepers. We can't quite decide whether they are absolutely perfect or frustratingly good. Probably somewhere in between.
The best thing about the keepers in FIFA 22 is that you can't just power a near post shot past a 90-rated, world class goalkeeper. And rightfully so. This leaves you with a decision to make when you're cutting in from the left or the right, one which put the spotlight on your decision making. So if you do get the better of your opposition's stopper, you probably deserve it.
They are frustratingly good at coming and claiming the ball from corners too, something which was equally frustrating in FIFA 21. We'd have liked to have seen this nerfed somewhat but we imagine it may well be in one of the earlier sets of patch notes.
Graphics & Presentation
We've briefly touched upon the widely discussed Hypermotion Technology and the impact that it could have on the game. And it's safe to say that it did not disappoint!
On initial inspection, it may be hard to spot the differences in terms of the out and out graphics within the game, but it's those finer details that the Hypermotion Technology takes to the next level.
Erling Haaland's trademark running style, Lionel Messi's ability to glide across the pitch with the ball at his feet and even Virgil Van Dijk's ability to dominate in the air. All these features are taken to a next level thanks to the engines that power the Hypermotion Technology.
There's been a noticeable improvement in the way in which the players off the ball appear in game too. In the past, it's been a case of the same small selection of animations that are used in order to keep the game ticking. But not this year.
A plethora of different movements, animations and even shouts can be heard from the players on the pitch. Although we did grow sick of the stadium announcer reminding poorly parked drivers to return to their cars!
The new default camera angle is pretty cool too. It has a very 'Super Sunday' feel to it, so for those who want their game to appear as lifelike as possible, this could be the one for you.
Much has been made of the new commentary teams leading the way in FIFA 22, with Derek Rae, Stewart Robson and Alex Scott all making an appearance.
We'd be lying if we said they made a huge impact on our overall experience of the game, but it is great to see (or hear) a female commentator in the game for the first time.
With the exception of Steve Bruce and his 99-rated pace, we can't complain with anything as far as the visuals are concerned.
There are obviously limitations with regards to the game modes that we can play within Ultimate Team, so we can only comment on the modes that we have been able to get stuck into.
As far as the menus and out of the game experiences are concerned, there is very little change. The Objectives menu remains the same, whilst SBC's are very much of a muchness.
The pack animation has changed significantly from last year. Opening packs is much quicker, walkouts are almost instantaneous, whilst the animations are easy to spot if you're looking to identify whether you've picked up a board player or not.
The changes to Division Rivals should make the mode a little more competitive than in recent years, where the focus has been spent entirely on FUT Champions, although we can't comment too heavily on that just yet due to a lack of time spent playing competitively.
EA are well aware that Ultimate Team is their flagship mode and, as such, they don't really need to change an awful lot. And they haven't.
Manager Career Mode
The improvements to Career Mode were the selling points from EA in the build-up to the FIFA 22 release and, whilst there are noticeable improvements as far as the mode is concerned, we can't help feeling a little underwhelmed.
The experience feels slicker than in recent years, you can navigate through the off-field issues quicker than before, mainly due to the fact that the training sessions are completed automatically rather than stopping your progress every two days.
The Create A Club feature is a nice addition too, EA has given a whole plethora of customisation options to those wanting to take their own club all the way to glory. But after a couple of games, the novelty of running your own club just seems to wear off a little bit.
Again we must stress that we have had limited-time to play each of the game modes so far, and we could well grow to love the mode in a few weeks time. But upon initial impression, for a mode that promised so much, we feel a little shortchanged.
Player Career Mode
Now we won't lie, we haven't spent an awful lot of time in the Player Career Mode mode over the years, so we're coming at this with a fairly open mindset and we must admit, we're very impressed.
The ability to come on as a substitute means you won't spend the early months of your career doing nothing, and the level system they have implemented means every single game and minute on the pitch matters.
It really does feel as though you are in complete control of your destiny in your career thanks to the level system and the challenges set pre-game. Your gaffer doesn't hold back either. If you fail to achieve what is expected of you, you will find yourself on the bench. Trust us, we learnt the hard way.
The cutscenes and visuals off the pitch are pretty cool too, although they fall flat in comparison to what we can find in 2KSports titles. But with that said, EA doesn't market themselves as cinematic geniuses, so well let them off on that front.
For the first time, we will be spending a fair chunk of time in our Player Career Modes.
Again, the lack of players available to play this mode means that we haven't spent too much time on it, but we have played enough to get a decent take on what to expect.
The Player Growth system works well, similarly to the Player Career mode it gives you more of a reason to ensure you play to the final whistle, whether you're winning or losing.
The ability to play as a female player is also a very nice addition, one which doesn't impact the way that you play per-ce, but feels very important in promoting the ever-growing women's game.
The overall Pro Clubs experience doesn't feel awfully different to previous years though. It's a mode that we'll enjoy playing with our friends on a Friday night, but one that still feels as though it has a lot more to offer.
Our Verdict - 4/5
As a whole, we can't complain with what EA has conjured up for us this year. Their first full Next-Gen release has got enough going on to keep fans happy, with the visuals taken to a whole new level on the PS5 and Series X|S
Unlike last years release, there aren't too many noticeable issues that need improving on either. EA have been afforded more time to get this game to where they need it to be, and they seem to have done exactly that.
On the other hand, there are still modes with untapped potential that EA has to put more focus on in order to appeal to their full market of players.
It's a strong release from EA, one which will keep them at the top of the footballing sim market, but without a leading competitor to challenge them, that isn't awfully difficult.
Disclaimer: EA provided the PS5 copy of FIFA 22 for this review.