FIFA 2016 – Review
PC, Xbox One, PS4
Year after year the Juggernaut that is EA’s FIFA franchise roles on. In the world of sports games FIFA has reigned supreme for many years. Each release sells massive amounts of copies all over the world and for a long time the game had been the dominant soccer franchise. But with the 2016 edition things have started to change. FIFA’s chief competitor Pro Evo has improved dramatically and is putting real pressure on FIFA to keep its position at the head of the pack. This leads to the big question, does FIFA 2016 do enough to reign supreme or will it finally have to hand over its crown?
That is truly a hard question to answer. FIFA has been a great game for some time now and FIFA 2016 is no different. The biggest problem is that it is still the same great game players have been enjoying all these years and while there have been some interesting improvements and additions there simply isn’t enough to make it feel like a fresh experience. The game is suffering from “King of the Hill” syndrome and resting on its laurels. So 2016 feels less like a brand new FIFA experience and more like a slightly tweaked version of 2015.
The most notable addition to the game is the very welcome and much hyped inclusion of women’s teams from around the world. It is staggering to think it took this long to happen, especially in a sport such as soccer that has a strong history of high level female competitions (many in fact would argue that women’s soccer is both tougher and more entertaining than the male competitions) but it is better late than never. Hopefully this becomes just a standard feature in the future and not something to be celebrate because let’s face it, it should have always been there.
The gameplay its self is, as always, highly competent and entertaining but this is where a sense of déjà vu sets in. EA assures players that there have been tweaks to passing, goalies and general ball control in 2016 but to be honest they are difficult to spot unless the player has spent enormous amounts of time with the previous entry. This is a franchise that has made its way with incremental upgrades and this year’s edition it probably the best example of that. Everything is just a little bit better, smother, faster but unless the player is hardest of hardcore fans they are not likely to notice it.
The game graphically follows the story of everything in FIFA 2016 so far, great but barely an improvement on last year. Players look crisp, crowds seem to interact well with what is happening on the pitch and the stadiums all look great. This is a good looking game but perhaps it is time EA really pushed things forward by using a new engine or upgrading Frostbite because it is difficult to see any improvement over the last few years in how things look. Also it is worth noting that there are still some janky animations here and there with players gliding over the pitch and goal keepers falling unrealistically.
Sound seems to have been the biggest improver in FIFA 16. Commentary in particular seems to have kicked it up a notch. It isn’t quite at the exceptional level that the NBA2k series is but the commentators seem to remark on the play much more accurately without sounding so robotic. It is much more conversational which is of course closer to the real thing. On pitch sound effects and crowd noise seems to have also received a boost making FIFA 16 one of the best sounding sports games kicking around.
In all FIFA 16 is about what players expect, a slightly better version of an already great soccer game. There is a lot here for the hardcore fan but not so much for casual players who have a copy of FIFA from the last couple of years. If you are someone that hasn’t played a FIFA game on the current gen then this is a great buy however if you have the 14 or 15 editions you may want to hold off on this year’s edition. It seems this year more than ever the developers rested on their laurels so we can only hope that the next version will be a big leap forward. With increased competition from Pro Evo the FIFA team can’t afford to stagnate for too long.