FIFA 16 Review

By Blair Nokes on October 9, 2015

It would be fair to say that my experience with Fifa is fairly limited; of all the sports titles that are out there, it's just been a series I haven't really put as much time into. I am definitely familiar with the Winning Eleven/Pro Evolution series, and EA Sports has been on a bit of a roll lately with Madden 16 being such a tremendous improvement over 15. Nevertheless, I am well aware of Fifa's insurmountable popularity in the gaming community. Year after year it's a heavy hitter for sports, typically vastly improving with every instalment. This year's release sought to finally open their demographic to add in female footballers. For the first time, you are able to choose from 12 national teams: Canada, Brazil, United States, Australia, China, France, England, Spain, Sweden, Germany, Mexico and Italy. EA definitely didn't stop there with improvements and additions to make Fifa 16 more appealing to its target market. One thing is certain, the team at EA sports made sure to make sure this year's instalment catered to fans and veterans along with newcomers. Especially when you're dealing with sports games that tend to have a considerable amount of advanced mechanics, this works for all parties; vets still have their advanced mechanics that dominate online, and newcomers can still wrap their heads around the basics.

FUT draft is a new mode that allows a simple team building component that has players select the most appropriate fit for each position. As you draft your squad and challenge opponents, you will be participating in a series of up to four matches and can win rewards that will in turn add further support to your Ultimate Team club.

One of the most commendable aspects about the EA Sports development team behind Fifa is that they genuinely want to hear fan feedback and consumer requests for future instalments. When your franchise has annual entries, this becomes crucial as you are finding ways to continually improve upon yourself, year after year. After weighing some of the requests made for Fifa 16, they have chosen to address two particular to their career mode. Now, for your Fifa career, you are allowed to take part in individual player training, and pre-season tournaments. Player training lets you manage the skills of your players on any one team through skill games. This allows a player to develop a specific focus that will eventually grow based on the attribute. Also worth noting is that doing this will also increase the transfer value of that player. Pre-season tournaments are friendly sets that actually rewards players with a transfer budget boost. The skills games are perfect for newcomers, ensuring the overall flexibility with FIFA 16, and its accessibility. One thing worth considering is perhaps offering a mode for future entries where you could possibly act as a team owner "“ a staple in many other sports games.

Fifa 16 has a wealth of stadiums for players to take part in. There are 78 in total, with 50 real world stadiums and 28 generic ones. This year, EA added nine new stadiums including Borussia Park, Carrow Road, EI Monumental, King Abdullah Sports City and Vitality stadium. One stadium in particular is a rather touching addition. Fratton Park was added to the series in honour of Simon Humber. He was the Creative Director of the FIFA series, but sadly passed away earlier this year battling cancer. On top of that, as a tribute to Simon, if you were to look at the goalmouth you will see a wreath of flowers laid in his honour. It's such a touching Easter Egg for someone who has been such an involving figure in the Fifa franchise, and the Fifa community.

The core gameplay mechanics have received an overhaul, paying considerable attention to the defence. Defending as a unit essentially helps cover gaps, and with the new defensive AI, players are given better awareness of dangerous zones on the pitch relative to the ball and their opponent. There are also 25 new changes to the mobility and locomotion of each player, allowing players to change directions swiftly, and will stay with their opponent better than in previous years.

Goalkeepers have improved animation, ensuring their positioning and reactions are all heightened. One interesting thing is that the team took the time to make sure goalkeepers do not make as many mistakes, and also have them move authentically. New tackling mechanics bring a more refined approach to winning the ball back for your club. The new slide and standing animations make going in for the ball more responsive. You can also bridge out of a slide to stay in play. Passing with purpose is a mechanic that allows for sharp, and decisive passes that meet their mark with precision. On the flip side, players can anticipate passes and move to shut them down accordingly; smarter teammates will also look for spaces to allow for more opportunistic ways to build a play through the midfield.

Having played enough of the game to assess the basic mechanics along with noting these new additions and refinements, FIFA 16 definitely feels more realistic to previous years. In one sense, it's an expected improvement since we're only getting better with technology, but there have definitely been instances in other games where new engines based on "real simulation" only end in a cluster for the game's physics. I really dig the way players move, adapt and react in relation to what's going on around them. This seems to have been a commonality in this year's lineup of EA Sports titles, and I definitely appreciate how much attention EA has given to the actual simulation aspect, ensuring each respective sport and game pans out as realistically as it has ever been.

The visual fidelity and overall presentation is very well done this year. One of the biggest improvements is the addition of the Bundesliga Broadcast Package, that acts as an overlay package mirroring broadcast matches from one of the most popular leagues in the world. New commentary has also been included that will discuss notable players, team performances, debuts, or even transfer rumours. Like other sports titles, this will also pick up on team stats for matches. As a whole, they're nice, but the overall presentation in some of the other EA sports titles this year are definitely more memorable, and they definitely give more of a stylized broadcasting experience. I can understand the vastly different styles of broadcasting, as sports games are portrayed vastly different from one another, but it still feels more could have been put into the presentation here. The weather system has received new options building on last year's instalment. Fifa 16 also adds hazy, partly cloud and variable rain patterns. Player likeness has been captured from premier league players and also athletes from the women's national teams. As a whole, they're fairly well done; they aren't incredibly detailed which may only really matter when you're watching replays or highlights, but it's definitely not as detailed as other sports titles released this year.

Final Thoughts

As an infrequent player of the franchise, Fifa 16 has definitely been one of the more memorable instalments for the series. It's a far cry away from being my favourite sports title this year, but assessing the quality of components present in this title, from previous entries in the series, it's easy to see a lot went into the refinement and innovations to things we may not always consider, like player movement, reactions, and locomotion.

Touching sendoff to FIFA’s late Creative Director by adding his favourite Stadium.
Loads of new refinements and improvements on player movement and AI.
Player Training offers vital necessities to attract newcomers.
While the presentation is definitely good, it’s not as polished as other sports games.
Facial animations have great likeness, but again, other sports titles this year put more attention to detail.
A mode where you could simulate being a team owner could greatly improve replay value.
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