Fifa 16 is the latest in EA’s yearly football sim and, as per usual, it takes a few steps forward as well as a few steps back. Every year Fifa introduces a few new features, and this year, they touted the improvements in player strength.
In recent years, Fifa games have prioritised playing with pace and width, all-but ignoring the centre of the park. Real-life football often gets congested in midfield and a lot of important battles take place there. The defensive midfielder is a very important part of the football field, and Fifa 16 attempts to increase their presence on the digital field.
The defensive midfield position has improved; who, alongside centre-backs and other defensive minded players can influence the game more with powerful tackles and improved interceptions. Defensive players still play second-fiddle to attacking players however as Fifa 16 still finds the sim enchanted with the attacking flair football can offer.
Wingers still play an over important role in Fifa 16, despite the extra bite in tackles. A quick winger with quick feet can get through opposition defence like a knife going through warm butter, and shooting from a tight-angle inside the box proves to be Fifa 16’s sweet-spot (where you can score a lot of goals). Tricky players are the most essential to your play in Fifa 16, then, but don’t dismiss any position.
Success in Ultimate Team and Career Mode comes from having a well-balanced team, and you can beat any team as any team, if you play to your strengths, or against their weaknesses. No matter if you’re playing as Accrington Stanley or Barcelona, you are sure to have fun with Fifa 16. This is a football game that allows for plenty of different play-styles, despite some positions coming across as more important than others.
As usual, you can fully edit your formations to your liking, and play whatever player in whatever position (other than goalkeeper, which is a shame). I always enjoy figuring out what kind of team I want to field, in what formation I think suits my play-style, based on what players I have at my disposal. The attacking game is fun, but what I really like is that you can finally play the defensive game in Fifa 16.
The acid test for a football game comes from whether each type of game can be fun. Fifa 16 largely passes. Each result feels like it should: Fifa 16 gives you tense 1-0 victories, tough draws and exciting goal-fests. There is definitely one aspect of the game that can infuriate though: when a computer-controlled team decides to hold the ball. The computer is smarter with interceptions, but it doesn’t feel like your team is. The higher your difficulty setting, the more the opposition holds the ball. It creates for some infuriating matches where you never see the ball. Thankfully, this makes scoring a goal better than it used to be.
Strikers have been improved ever so slightly, with a brilliant range of finishes available. The improvements to the striker help to cap-off attacks. New to Fifa 16 is an improved finesse shot which essentially means that you can pull off some spectacular strikes. Finishing is better than in previous Fifa games, and so is defence, but there are some aspects of the game that have taken a step backwards.
Referees, for example have become incredibly anal. Most sliding challenges will result in a free-kick, and penalties are far too frequent. It’s too easy to play for a penalty, and more often than not, you will be given one. The referee is too quick to show a red card too. More times than I can say I have had a player sent off for an innocuous challenge. Offside is too strict also. If your player is a toe offside, the whistle will be blown, there is no leeway. If you pass to someone offside, even if they never get near to the ball, or if an opposition player receives it, the game will be stopped, later than it should’ve been.
Crosses are worse in Fifa 16 too. More often than not, a cross will end up nowhere near its intended target. You will manage to score a few goals from crosses, but they are just not good enough. This means corners rarely result in a goal either, even less so than in real games. The goalkeeper will catch pretty much every single corner and cross into the box; I’d like it if crosses were just a little more accurate. Passing has got slower this time around, but I actually quite like the slower pace of Fifa 16 compared to older entries, as it feels more life-like, with more misplaced passes happening throughout each match.
Goalkeepers are very quick to come off their line too, often sprinting out of their box to boot a ball away when you don’t tell or want them to. The new, no-touch football is a tad haphazard too, but with a lot of practice it could become a strong tool for the aforementioned tricky and wide players. Fifa 16 seems to add small enhancements to the formula, whilst making a fair number of smaller mistakes – it seems like EA are more than willing to release whatever.
The graphics are testament to this. Fifa games have looked the same since 2009. 16 looks exactly like any other Fifa game from the last seven years. EA really need to update the engine, as it looks stale. Now, there are a few new features that have improved presentation, such as increased licensing and a good number of very authentic stadiums. Commentary is improved on older entries too, with more unique lines being used for the bigger teams than ever.
I love the attention to detail in Fifa 16, and playing as Spurs at White Hart Lane, hearing unique commentary with authentic crowd cheers and chants is brilliant; no other football game can top this. I really liked the introduction of women’s teams too. For the first time ever, women’s football is represented in Fifa, with twelve international teams being represented.
For the most part, the women’s game is the same, but there are certain differences. Challenges don’t have the same power to them as in the men’s game, and shooting doesn’t feel as powerful. Passing and crossing feels a little more accurate and the pace is just a little bit faster. I would’ve liked to see more women’s teams represented in the game, but it is a step in the right direction and I’m glad they are finally in Fifa at all.
There are some very welcome additions to Career Mode here too. You can take part in pre-season tournaments to build up more transfer funds and you can become the manager of an international team at the same time as being in charge of the team of your choice. There are changes in how you sign players too, as you are not able to see a player’s rating unless you have scouted them previously – a nice change, as it makes scouting more important than it was before.
The biggest change in Career Mode however is training. Every week you can train up to five players in different areas of the game. The training takes the form of mini-games, or you can skip them, leaving it up to the game how your player does. The new training in Career Mode improves the RPG elements, and I loved it. I couldn’t stop playing Career Mode, and I still think this is where Fifa is the best. There is nothing quite like taking a League 2 side up to the Champion’s League (or Champion’s Cup as it is called).
Ultimate Team is still present, and it has seen a few smaller upgrades to its already popular formula. I liked Ultimate Draft, which gives you a random team, and you play a succession of more difficult matches against teams within the game. You win prizes for finishing Ultimate Draft of course, but to be honest, I never got into the mode, as I had more than I needed just with Career Mode.
Fifa 16 doesn’t reinvent the Fifa wheel, and shows that the series is in dire need of a new graphics engine. However, improvements in defence and midfield have improved the game despite it taking a few steps back in terms of poor crossing, dodgy referees and the odd bit of dodgy goalkeeping. I had a lot of fun with Fifa 16, but it isn’t the best football game ever made.