|System: Xbox One, PS4, Xbox 360, PS3|
|Dev: EA Canada|
|Pub: Electronic Arts, EA Sports|
|Release: September 22, 2015|
|Players: 4 local, 2-22 online.|
|Screen Resolution: 480p-1080i||Content is generally suitable for all ages. May contain minimal cartoon, fantasy or mild violence and/or infrequent use of mild language.|
by Patrick Tretina
EA Sports has really stepped up their game these past few months by answering to the laundry list of game-specific requests players have demanded from the video game giant. The final quarter of 2015 has been perhaps one of EA’s most innovative and impressive performance in a long time. They’ve managed to take full advantage of the next-generation consoles by delivering both original and inventive games across their entire portfolio. They have also managed to right the ship from last year’s debacle of sport games that felt more like expansion packs rather than completed games. The upward climb started with Madden 16, and recently made it’s way to NHL 16, as they’ve provided more of what gamers wanted and less of what they thought could turn a profit. The good news is that EA Sports has delivered much more value this year than in previous years. The even better news, FIFA 16 is no exception and provides a great title that will have football fans yelling Olé, Olé, Olé from sunup to sundown.
My football fandom most certainly lies in between World Cup seeding and World Cup Final – any other time, I’m just not interested. It’s not that the game isn’t exciting or entertaining, it’s just never been my cup of tea since my sporting landscape has been dominated by just about every classic American sport since I was old enough to walk. With that being said, I’ve always enjoyed playing the FIFA franchise when it pops up every now and again, which essentially makes me a de facto causal fan. However, this year’s version has really captivated my attention and definitely pushed me in the direction of full-on FIFA fan.
After bonding with EA’s newest football title like it was a brand-new puppy, I have to say I’m rather impressed with the game as a whole. I had a blast with my first match, even after two red cards and scrubbing the post nearly half a dozen times. The one touch dribbling was really nice and allowed me to string together a multitude of moves to blow by the defender while the responsive and dynamic passing was a perfect compliment for transitioning the ball into the offensive zone. I wasn’t too fond of the shooting mechanics since I couldn’t help myself from letting the power-bar get too full before unload on the goaltender. Eventually I evened out and managed to hammer home a handful of nice goals from a few different sports on the field.
The intuitive features that EA Sports has been raving about are clearly present with impressive responsive accuracy. A perfectly timed slide tackle is both highly rewarding and can lead to a quick fast break down the other end. AI players transition very well after a turnover and no lag was experienced during my time with the game. This made the match feel much more authentic while providing an opportunity to keep the excitement and momentum going without disrupting the overall flow that’s present within the game of football.
The defensive controls were a bit stagnant for me initially, like the shooting was, but they soon became second nature once I learned how to track the offender and strike with a perfect tackle. If I got beat by the dribbler, which happened more than I would have liked during the first half of my initial game, the defensive set would shift over and the cover the gap left by my broken ankles. I also like that the defense would fall back from the recovery once I scooped up my jock and got back into the defensive play. This took me by total surprise, that the AI is so advanced that the players would shift based on my movements, or lack there of. I felt much more comfortable relying on the computer generated maneuvers of my teammates after my first initial dusting by none other than the cover boy, Lionel Messi. The good news, I found that the more I played the game, the better I become and the more confidence I found myself exhibiting.
The presentation of the game is rather impressive and I was really blown away by the opening sequence of my first match. Everything from the shadows cast by the players from the lights breaking through the night sky, to the fluid movements of the character models, and even the perfectly trimmed grass, made me feel as if I just stepped onto the field of a profession football game. The one aspect that really grabbed my attention was the sheer size and beauty of the over 50 detailed stadiums - EA really got this aspect right in this year’s version. This is clearly conveyed when the camera zooms in on the goalkeeper just before you deliver a strike to your teammates.
After logging a few games, I experience EA’s new attention to detail in the weather patterns offered within the game. The rain simulator made the players and the ball actually feel like we were playing in the rain while the winter flurries gave me the sluggish sense one would expect if they were playing during these conditions. I like that the game provides players with nine separate weather conditions that uniquely impact the player’s ability, and inability, to play. The only issue I had regarding the weather was the lack of detailed contained within the snowfall. For whatever reason the snow flurries looked like they were pulled right out Madden 97 rather than FIFA 16. However, the attention to detail paid to the other 8 conditions, and the fact players might never experience snow within a game, clearly picked up the slack where the snowfall fell short.