48

Posted by on

FIFA 16 Review

Frustration…

Back in June, after playing preview code before E3, I stated that FIFA 16 could be the best in the series if EA didn’t mess things up. That sentiment (mostly) held true after I played it at gamescom too, so it’s fair to say I was very much looking forward to the final game. After playing it for a solid week, hours on end, it pains me to say FIFA 16 doesn’t manage to take that crown. In fact, on a gameplay level, it’s one of the most disappointing entries in the series to date.

Game: FIFA 16
Developer: EA Sports
Publisher: EA
Reviewed on:

ps4fifa16 x1fifa16

(PS4 review code provided by publisher, Xbox One version played via EA Access)

It all starts off well, with slower pace of the game and the ability to play a good passing football impressing, but delve further and the shine starts to wear off. This is mainly down to the changes EA has made to the defensive AI. It’s an element of FIFA 16 which, depending on whether you’re playing other humans or on your own, is indifferent to say the least. If you’re playing multiplayer (online or off), the new defensive AI is great. Your teammates will cover spaces well and track back intelligently, leaving you less exposed on the break or vulnerable to players with pace. It’s a refreshing change compared to FIFA 15, making multiplayer matches lots of fun. However, offline, playing against the AI (on world class or above), it makes for a horribly frustrating experience.

You see, it seems like EA forgot to balance or tweak the defensive AI to cater for a good experience when you’re not playing a human. Your AI opponents, no matter the team, will usually hold a very rigid, unrealistically solid defensive line. This, more often than not, will mean you have to pass, pass and pass again in an attempt to break down two banks of four to create a chance or simple shooting opportunity. This might sound fun and “realistic” to some, but given that the pitch in FIFA is already quite small it makes for an extremely frustrating experience. 99% of the time, I felt like I had very little space to manoeuvre in and create nice, flowing passing moves. Even when I did, the opposition would home in and close down the space before I had a moment to think about my next move. Throw in some incredibly static attacking AI (you have to press a button to trigger teammates to run) and it’s just not fun. The majority of my games ended 0-0, 1-0 or 2-1, and I’m very few of them were the true definition of fun.

FIFA16_XboxOne_PS4_FirstParty_Messi_HR

All of this has a domino effect, with the lack of space making dribbling in FIFA 16 a complete chore. There little to no room to express yourself with the decent players let alone the star ones. Given the reliance on top players in FIFA 15, especially their pace, I get what EA has tried to do, but they’ve gone completely the other way. Dribbling feels like you’re battling with a combination of your controller and the game itself. It doesn’t feel responsive, with players taking an extra touch or two rather than moving in the direction you want. It almost feels like you’re trudging through mud. As a result, before you know it the opponent is on top of you in flash or simply shuts down the space you want to move into. One of the new features, no touch dribbling, helps to somewhat alleviate the frustrating nature of the dribbling, but far from a solution. Plus, this facet of the beautiful game isn’t all about feints and skills, so it really shouldn’t be a “fix” in any case.

On the off chance you do manage to create some sort of space, the shooting isn’t particularly satisfying. Pardon the pun, but it’s incredibly hit and miss. It was the same in FIFA 15, and it would appear EA has done little to fix this part of the game. Sometimes it will feel great when you smash the ball into the net, whereas you’ll feel like you’ve punted a heavy balloon. Thankfully, unlike last year, goalkeepers react pretty well to shots. Sure, they’ll make the occasional error, but nothing catastrophic like FIFA 15. I just wish the shooting was a bit more consistent so the shot stopper could shine a bit more. Still, it’s not all bad as the passing side of FIFA 16 is excellent. You can actually play a nice game of passing football; it’s just shame that surrounding elements (mentioned earlier) restrict you from taking full advantage of it, especially the new ‘pass with purpose’. Due to the lack of space, it’s actual purpose is almost completely negated. That said, the passing side of the game is still one of the best parts of the game. The new dynamic crossing (actually varied depending on players in the box) is also very good, and something you’ll do a lot given the lack of space in the middle of the pitch.

FIFA16_XboxOne_PS4_E3_Kane_HR_WM

Gameplay is mixed bag, but EA continues to excel with its presentation in FIFA 16. That Sky Sports broadcast feel is more apparent than ever, with player stat comparisons displayed before matches and noticeably improved commentary. Martin Tyler and Alan Smith are great, chatting about relevant topics and building up matches nicely. It’s the best, most natural sounding commentary I’ve heard in a FIFA game to date. The visuals side of the game is mostly positive, with improved player models heading up the new changes. Body types still have some way to go, but now look far more realistic than the WWE style ones that plagued FIFA 15. Moving hair is now in too, thanks to the introduction of women’s football (more on that in a bit). Gameplay visuals remain vibrant even though some detail is lost compared to close up shots, but that’s to be expected given the impressive stadiums and 3D crowds. Animations are mostly buttery smooth, but this year more than any other I noticed at times it feels like the game is a bit over-animated. Players will take an extra touch or move a little bit more than you want them to, resulting in a lack of responsiveness. There’s also a slight drop in the frame rate during foggy matches or snow. Nothing huge, but it’s worth a mention nonetheless.

Quality of gameplay and small visual niggles aside, as a package, FIFA 16 is fantastic. All the modes from last year are present (both online and off), with new additions to career mode and Ultimate Team (FUT) bulking things up. I’m still not a huge fan of the mode (think it’s extremely unbalanced), but if you dig FUT then you’ll get right on with what’s on offer in FIFA 16. The introduction of the draft mode to FUT means you can quickly get into the mode, get some top players and go online to earn some prizes. It’s essentially a way to get new people into FUT mode proper by giving them a taste and eventually getting them hooked. I didn’t bite, but I did enjoy the immediacy of it and the fact that it’s actually (ironically) more balanced the proper mode.

FIFA16_XboxOne_PS4_Women_Germany_LR

Career mode is FIFA 16’s other big mode, and boy is it fantastic. From player management to transfers, the depth is almost up there with Football Manager. The additions of pre-season tournaments and player training only serve to highlight its brilliance. Depending on how you do, you earn extra transfer money by jetting off to play in friendly cups with the likes of Barcelona and Juventus. It’s great, giving pre-season matches some meaning, especially if you need that extra cash to fund a big deal. Player training allows you to train up to five players in different areas, improving certain attributes based on how they do. It’s pretty balanced too, as mainly the promising young players will improve at a steady rate. Older players will improve slowly, or sometimes not at all. Example, I trained Anthony Martial for half a season on his finishing and he went from 77 to just over 78 in that area. It’s completely your choice if you want to play or simulate these sessions too. I mixed and matched, choosing to simulate more than play in a bid to move through the season.

Elsewhere, the introduction of women’s football is a big headline, and it’s pretty good. I’d even go as far as saying it’s more fun, responsive and open than the men’s game. It’s a slight disappointment that you can only play as women in a few modes, but I’d imagine their inclusion in FIFA 16 is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of what EA has planned. I just hope that before they think about expanding that part of the game for FIFA 17, they look long and hard at the mixed bag that is the gameplay in FIFA 16. It’s a real shame that it has ended up like this. The preview code I played before E3 was fantastic, verging on being the best FIFA and in turn a great football game. However, yet again, EA has delivered a final product that is quite a bit off what they showed off a few months before release. Is it better than FIFA 15? Yes, probably, but just. Is it better than FIFA 14? No, and that speaks volumes. Personally, I think it might be time for a new engine as it seems like Ignite is holding EA back from taking that next step with FIFA. That step to match something like NBA 2K16. I could be wrong, but either way EA has to do something next year otherwise Konami will smell blood.

FIFA16_XboxOne_PS4_E3_Courtois_HR_WM

VERDICT

Jam packed with top modes and great presentation, FIFA 16 continues EA’s tradition of offering lots to get stuck into. However, when it comes to gameplay, it’s a different story altogether. Against other humans it’s enjoyable enough, but play against the AI on higher difficulty settings and its flaws are very much apparent. More frustrating than fun, FIFA 16 is one of the most disappointing games in the series to date.

7/10

A SECOND OPINION

Adam Neaves: After hours upon hours of playing FIFA 16 one word rushed through me head when I sat down to write this second opinion… Frustration.

FIFA 16 plays a balanced enough game of football. The pace of FIFA 15 has been toned down a lot, defensive awareness of your team-mates has improved and it’s fun to play with your friends. Playing against Asim, we had a couple of great matches, which included some memorable moments such as Asim completely destroying me with Memphis Depay! Unfortunately, the same cannot be said about playing on the higher difficulties against the AI. The fun just dissolves instantly into pure frustration. What looks like a big pitch suddenly turns into a small cage, with next to no space available to move around in. This isn’t fun, nor is it realistic, making it a real chore just to finish a match. EA needs to make huge improvements to the AI and balance things next if they want their fantastic career mode to truly shine next year.

To sum up, FIFA 16 is a decent football game, but ultimately extremely frustrating. EA needs to think hard about where its heading when it comes to FIFA 17. An overhaul might well be in order.

Join the discussion
  • Salman Kon

    Dude… you are a noob. This game sucks ass. It’s supposed to be a videogame, not real life. EA give beautiful passing, then f— it up with OP interceptions. Great idea, horrible execution.

  • AsimT
  • AsimT

    Also, I messed around with team tactics too. No help.

  • AsimT

    Also, we update the site regularly with news. Adam Neaves does it all the time. I don’t look after FSB anymore, but help out now and again.

  • AsimT

    Also, I played for a week before reviewing. Around 50 hours. Oh and yeah, totally biased. From the guy who loves FIFA 14. Played FIFA (not PES) from 08 to 14. Slated PES 2014. Yup, I’m totally biased.

  • AsimT

    Yup, I’m a moron. Completely.

  • AsimT

    I tried all pass settings. Always do. Still the same core gameplay. Won’t magically change.

  • BanjoTandoori

    Ok. Good of you to respond and clarify.

  • dibils

    so you praise it when you were getting access to early builds but now the games out the gameplay is shit?

  • Jamie Amaral

    You’re simply a moron. FIFA 16 is hugely disappointing, and this is coming from someone who has played them all to date. PES doesn’t need sliders because the AI actually know how to play football. You don’t get teams like Stoke doing Barcelona passing as I just experienced in FIFA 16. You get them doing the long balls they’re known for in PES. The sliders barely affect the run frequency at all. Yeah they may run more, but in tactically stupid directions. It’s no competition this year at all. It’s PES hands down.

  • Jamie Amaral

    In fairness, the demo seemed to play completely different than the full game for me.

  • Jamie Amaral

    There is no scripting in PES, I can safely say after a good amount of time with both games, that FIFA is insane with the scripting.

  • dibils

    i hear this all the time.. i dont get it. they play exactly the same, go back and play the demo, then do the same match in the full game.. do you still think they completely changed the game?

  • Fran Sáez
  • Göönerjay

    Bang on. Half way through my first season in career with Arsenal and there are some things i like and the game doesn’t feel so arcady. Can’t stand the AI defence this year though. Every single team is the most organised, energetic, high work rate defence you will have ever seen to the point that it really isn’t realistic and saps all of the fun out of the game.
    I, like you at times, have to resort to ping pong passing just to work some space… that isn’t realistic nor fun. I like you would like a bit of time to pick my passes and spot the runs but once you get into the final 3rd it just becomes hectic and frustrating.
    Passing is so hit and miss and why do i still see the problem of a highly rated pro player like Mesut Ozil pea rolling a 10 yard pass with all of the power of a 5 year old.
    Played against AFC Bournemouth last night and dominated them in the 1st half and was winning 2-0 at half time (although felt i was being scripted because all of a sudden my players were moving into space and passing with a bit of speed) but then in the 2nd half some of the football Bournemouth played would have been the envy of the 70’s Brazil team… quite literally a series of 5 first time bullet passes before a first time shot from 25 yards straight into the top corner… literally can’t defend against it nor is it anywhere close to being realistic.
    Referees…. Never in any previous Fifa game have i said the words ‘What for?’ so often. I have given away at least 5 penalties because a player i wasn’t even controlling walked into an opposition player in my area away fro the ball!
    The part of your comment that really resonated with me though was the part about the strikers being non existent. I brought Cavani for Arsenal for 40m having used him on LW for PSG on the Demo… in 14 games, he has 5 goals and most games he barely touches the ball! Just constantly marked out of the game by 2 overly aggressive CB’s and he never moves.

    One more thing. SHOT BLOCKING…. Soooooooooo tedious! Yes block the occasional shot with a defender… not the majority though! It gets annoying and isn’t realistic. Let me get more shots off that miss the target or show off a bit more of the GK improvements… don’t constantly keep jumping in with last ditch blocks from weird and wonderful positions ! Again not realistic and just gets frustrating after 20 games of seeing it constantly.

  • Rich

    Great comments… The more I play the more I get frustrated with my inability to effectively pass. Even using players with +80 short passing rating, I’m missing players with the short pass…they don’t even come close at times. That is if they are not intercepted.

    I’ve never had this problem in Fifa before. I’m typically a short passing, work the ball around the midfield type of build up. Missing the passes is killing my game and making me want to quit playing. I’m that frustrated…

    I’m ready to quit FUT and just play offline career mode until I can figure this out. I’m hoping over time I will adjust. Based on your comments I’m not that encouraged.

    I’m wondering if the problem is less the game and more a controls issue. I understand missing passes when you’re on manual passing or semi-assisted to some extent. But when you’re playing on fully assisted passing and your player with +80 passing has his shoulders squared to the target and misses…something is wrong.

  • Rami Qassom

    maybe the reviewer should start watching real football games.

  • Ιορδάνης Χότζογλου

    I disagree with this review completely.
    FIFA is a football sandbox.
    It gives you the sliders, it gives you the ability to edit the players attributes if you want it so much and most importantly it gives you amazing foot planting,thousands of animations for every situation on the field, realistic ball and player physics and referees who actually take part in the game.
    The A.I. is not as we all would like to but you can edit the team strategies and save your own personal squads.As with PES you need time to mold the game to your liking.
    If you like PES more now, you should change the title of your site and stop bashing this game because you are lazy to actually play the game as the simulation it is now.

  • BanjoTandoori

    Are you always so small-minded and obnoxious? Indeed, I see a lot of your Disqus posts across the boards are inane personal attacks on people who have a different point of view. https://disqus.com/by/jamieamaral/

    As for being ‘a moron’ for liking a modded FIFA 16, you yourself recently posted “I’d argue that a modded FIFA is better than a modded PES.” So according to your own definition of morons, you yourself are one.

  • andrew

    i think fifa 14 is the best game so great to play geting the goals is good this blog is great the content is good all lade out nice http://games-for-all-consoles1.blogspot.co.uk/