FIFA 16 Review (Xbox One)
Last seasons FIFA was solid by all accounts, so as long as EA didn’t try to fix something that wasn’t broken, FIFA 16 should have remained a solid product, especially with the addition of a couple of nice new features. Why is it then that I am rather underwhelmed by FIFA 16?
So far this year EA SPORTS has impressed me with their releases of NHL 16 and in particular Madden 16. FIFA 16 borrows on two of the highlighted features from these games. The “on ice trainer” feature from NHL is mimicked in FIFA 16, but it is not executed nearly as well. The suggestions it makes are just the simple Pass, Shoot, Through ball etc. though it does at least give you a direction indicator for making your passes. It doesn’t provide the useful service that the trainer in NHL does, which was far more contextual and helped you with both skill moves and shot aiming. The trainer is also very slow to react to a player change, and as it shows as a big white circle at the players feet, it is far more recognisable as a selected player indicator than the actual selected player indicator (which is a small arrow above the player’s head). Due to the lag of the trainer switching to the selected player, this makes it rather confusing and the whole system becomes more of a hindrance than the help it is supposed to provide.
From Madden, FIFA 16 also borrows the new feature of Draft Picks. In FIFA 16 you can play Draft mode in either single player or multiplayer. As in Madden you build your squad from a random selection of cards, with your first pick in FIFA 16 being your captain. The first choice you make is likely going to be between some of the best players in the game, such as Ronaldo or Messi. From here you pick each position from your selected formation and fill it with one of the five player choices you are given. It’s not hard to build a good squad here and all you need to worry about it raising the chemistry rating of your team. The overall rating will be great as every player you pick will be gold. You also get to pick all the subs and reserves, so this gives you extra opportunity to fill chemistry gaps in your team. Picking a squad is too easy, and doesn’t have nearly the same drama or pizzazz that Madden’s Draft Picks has.
Furthermore, the Draft mode in FIFA 16 requires an entry fee. One FUT Draft Entry coin gets you a free entry, and you will begin the game with one. It is understood that more Draft Entries can be obtained in packs, but if you don’t have any you can buy your way in using 15,000 Coins (rewarded through completing matches/competitions in Ultimate Team) or 300 FIFA Points. To put it in perspective, 500 FIFA Points will cost you £3.99, and 15,000 Coins would get you a Jumbo Premium Gold pack in the store. When they are available, these packs give you 24 Ultimate team items, with a guarantee that at least 20 are gold and 7 will be Rare. To get the maximum reward from the Draft mode you need to win 4 games without losing one. Fortunately for me on my first entry I managed this, and the reward was one of the above mentioned Jumbo Premium Gold packs, along with another regular premium gold pack (12 items; 10 gold, 3 rare). So had I paid 15,000 Coins to enter (which would take a little grind to accumulate) I really wouldn’t have made much of a profit from the venture. If you are a better FIFA player than I then you could increase the skill level that you play the Draft mode on, increasing the potential rewards, but then you are also probably not reading this review and have already been playing FIFA 16 since the beta…
Before I go into my next gripe about FIFA 16 let me just say that this years game is definitely the best looking FIFA we’ve had yet. Which is a good job because if it wasn’t, it wouldn’t have much going for it. The player models are all excellent, as are the stadiums. The crowds aren’t bad, but maybe not quite as good as they are in NHL 16. The actual player animations are good, though there is a lot of very noticeable player snap, where the whole character is moved slightly so that the next animation will fit to where the ball currently is. It should also not go unmentioned that FIFA 16 has added in the Women’s international teams, and the FIFA Women’s International Cup competition for you to play in. Again their character models are great, though the hair leaves a lot to be desired. The animations of the female footballers actually looks better than that of the males…
More emphasis has been placed this year on the physical part of the game. Nowhere is this more apparent than when trying to defend. Defending is no longer about timing the push of the tackle (B) button, but more about getting your player in the way. In fact, pressing the B button should be almost entirely avoided now, lest you mistime it and end up leaving your player stranded while the opponent runs on by. I can understand where EA Sports are going with this idea, and the physics behind the system are solid, but for me it just doesn’t work. Face to face defending becomes almost impossible. Perhaps if player switching worked in the way you anticipate it should work then the defending system would be so bad, but to me player switching is a mystery in FIFA 16. I’ve tried automatic, air ball only and fully manual switching, and in every setting the player switching seems to be completely random. The game thinks you want to switch to a certain player when really you wanted a different one entirely, even when trying to switch player using the right stick and moving it in the direction of the player you wanted to switch to. Not to mention that the selected player indicator is so small that it’s hard to tell which player IS selected and, as mentioned earlier, having the trainer indicator lag behind player switching just adds further to the headache. This, combined with the new defending controls, results in a lot of frustrating matches where you end up throwing away a perfectly good lead.
I’m going to come back to Madden 16 here. Madden 16 was fun to play, even when losing. Every part of the game had high tension and excitement. Every game mode was solid. With FIFA 16 that’s not the case. This years game is too frustrating to play, and the best feature is locked behind either grinding or microtransactions. If your main staple for FIFA is Pro Clubs or Be a Pro mode then your will enjoy the game, but controlling the full team this year will leave you mashing RB and yelling at the telly.
6 defenders on their arse out of 10