It’s that time of year, the time of year where all of the sports games are released to the public. A time where all sporting fans can feel like they’re a professional. Whether it’s basketball, wrestling or football, the sport is in the control of the fans.
A game headlining the start of the sport game season is FIFA 16.
FIFA 16 has grown up from FIFA 15 significantly. In FIFA 15, chip through balls were the bane of every player’s existence, and at the same time, the player’s strength. Shocking defensive errors in FIFA 15 would cost you games, such as defenders running into each other or horrendous goalkeeping blunders, such as letting in a shot from half way, or pulling a Robert Green and letting a weak effort just slip through your legs.
Sorry Robert, we haven’t forgotten quite yet.
FIFA 16 introduces a variety of new defensive mechanisms in order to vastly improve the defensive side of the game, obviously.
Defensive Agility allows the player access to more mobile defenders that can close down space and change direction quickly in order to keep up with the opponent and shut down play. This is a great asset to many players, since it can stop the cross abuse and launch a quick counter attack. With that comes new defensive AI that closes down the opponents should you choose to take over a Central Defender and close down a striker running straight at you, combined with new tackling mechanics that don’t result in the ball magically landing at the feet of the opponent once again, you’ll be sure to win a challenge properly.
With all of the defensive buffs, mechanisms like interception come in automatically.
As a young football player myself, I was told that controlling the midfield is key to winning the game. I tried to project the same mentality onto the youngsters I coached, and it worked to an extent. It works in professional play too. If you control the midfield, you control the game. You only need to look as far as Barcelona during the tiki-taka days, or even Barcelona now to understand that.
FIFA 16 makes the midfield matter. No more over the top balls from the holding midfielder to the pacey striker and plonking it into the back of the net. Staying in possession is vital, with patient build up play, or clinical grounded through balls to the wings and to the striker assist in kickstarting attacks.
Messi’s (and only exclusive to Messi) No Touch Dribbling has been introduced. Feint and weave through defenders as you dribble without touching the ball. Magic.
Crossing has been fixed, so you don’t deliver ridiculously poor crosses, instead they’re built for precision and accuracy. Clinical finishing too, so you don’t scoff those sitter chances.
The FIFA trainer is basically a guide. Learn to play as this graphical overlay option prompts you depending on the position you are in and the level of the trainer itself. Basic commands can get you started, while deeper hints can improve the game for the more skilled players too.
Finally, and I mean it literally. Women’s national teams have been introduced. Play as 12 women’s national teams for the first time ever (revolutionary…) in the FIFA franchise in offline tournaments, kickoff mode and online gameplay.
Now that we’ve rattled off most of the fantastic features FIFA has to offer, let’s review them accordingly.
The defending on FIFA 16 is scarily difficult to work around. In fact, I would say it’s just like learning a new FIFA game. I started a career mode with Arsenal, and I had trouble weaving around the defence of Lyon. I could not get a ball in, they would close me down too quickly. After a while of exploring my offensive options, I was able to do some damage. Defending in this game should be no problem for anyone, it’s relatively simple and fun to do. Your tackles don’t make the ball fly and land at someone elses foot and they have a shot on goal. You defend, retain the ball and play on from there.
This also means that a defender such as Per Mertesacker will not be able to chase down Cristiano Ronaldo like he was able to in FIFA 15, instead he will close down play accordingly with the enhanced AI. Defending has been fixed, but occasionally there are minor slip ups, such as players running into each other, or a bad touch.
Fielding a second string team against Lyon meant I was bound for some trouble against the likes of Lacazette. However, with the advanced AI defending and the controlled defending of myself, we were able to close down Lacazette completely and force him to lose the ball out of pressure and mount a counter attack from the flanks that bled into the middle and allowed Giroud to score, which showed me how on point the defending has been. With defensive buffs comes the goalkeeping buff, much needed since FIFA 15. Goalkeepers pull off tremendous saves, as if they would in real life, and is a great indication as to where the game is headed with the evolution of goalkeepers. I am very happy with these advancements.
The midfield game has improved dramatically, too. Being able to pull off some wonderful passes with midfielders such as Luka Modric, Aaron Ramsey and Carli Lloyd is what I look forward to. I love to pass it around and make it look like a well worked goal, and making midfield matter is crucial and essential, and I think EA have hit the nail on the head with this. Absolutely magnificent to see a pass go correctly, whether it’s to the next midfielder or a through ball to set the striker on goal, dominating the midfield finally comes to play in FIFA 16 and does so wonderfully, though, it might matter a bit too much, if your opponent has immaculate passing, it may be difficult for you to get back into the game unless you stop the flow of their play and start your own from scratch. If you want to be in control and frustrate your opponent, control the midfield.
Though, over the top balls have been nerfed to absolutely nothing, so don’t bother trying it unless you’re 100% confident you’ll be through on goal. Ground through balls are still okay though. Phew.
Messi’s No Touch dribbling is just that. See it to believe it. A wonderful addition to the game, though, I hope people don’t pick Barcelona all the time online now just because of it.
Crossing and finishing have been fixed, slightly! Rejoice! Slightly.. With the addition of clinical finishing, you’re probably thinking that you’ll never miss anything again.
Throwback to FIFA 12/13 where finesse shots ruled the game. It’s like that now, except keepers will save them occasionally. I scored a finesse shot with Marco Reus from outside the box against a full strength Barcelona side, so, if that’s not an indication of how good finesse is, I don’t know what is. This doesn’t mean that other shooting methods are underpowered, you can still shoot normally, or use your head to score a goal, except you won’t miss from 6 yards out.
Unless you’re playing with Giroud…
Keepers will pull off some tremendous saves, but if you control the midfield and know where to place the ball (near post or finesse) you should be fine, and the finishing is clinical.
The FIFA trainer is self explanatory, it trains you to play FIFA on a basic, or advanced level should you choose to toggle it on.
FIFA 16 Career Mode (Manager) is back, as always. Making your manager and setting it up to be a world beater, whether you start at Real Madrid, or Sydney FC. You work your way up the managerial ladder to become the best there ever was. Better than Arsene Wenger, Sir Alex Ferguson, Ange Postecoglou (shoutout for winning the Asian Cup with us), Jose Mourinho, Carlo Ancelotti and Diego Simeone? Sure, why not? If you played the last FIFA you’d see a 60% increase to your transfer budgets as well as a world class transfer scout. Handy. Here’s where it gets interesting. No more are the days where you play meaningless fixtures in the pre-season against teams such as Sporting CP, Brighton Hove Albion or a top tier team such as Paris Saint Germain. You now embark on international pre-season tours.
If anyone remembers Real Madrid, Manchester City and AS Roma coming out to Melbourne, it’s like that.
The international cups are existent for all clubs, just different tiers. Clubs such as Arsenal are subject to three different offers to compete with the top tier local teams and top tier European teams in three separate locations. The player chooses one, and plays through that tournament with a handsome reward fee. If you choose a club like Watford, never fear, you will play in one of these too, with weaker teams and a lower payout should you win the tournament. Finally, pre-season has meaning, and it may leave more time for rest before the season starts, as opposed to having a friendly a week from the start of the season or if you’re in the Community Shield, you’re well warmed up and ready to go tear up. I found this really handy in my Arsenal career mode, after warming up and beginning to learn FIFA 16 through the International Cup and winning it, I felt more than comfortable heading back to Wembley in England and handing Chelsea a taste of their own medicine.
So I did, 4-1 victory to secure our 2nd piece of silverware for the season.
It brings career mode to life, and allows you to take your brand of football to other countries aside from Europe, such as South America, Asia and North America. National team jobs are the same, you’ll get an offer and choose one from there.
There are two features that I did not cover above that will be mentioned now, in order of personal importance (that is, how important they are to me)
FUT Draft. The FUT Draft mode is something that many players have hyped up over the course of the demo being released and now the actual game. Initially, you get a FUT Draft Token to play for free, otherwise it’s 15,000 coins or 300 FIFA points (so, it’s like buying two Premium Gold Packs). Essentially, you pick a captain, and then you pick players to build around that. You can build a hybrid team, or a sole LIGA BBVA team (assuming your captain is Messi or Ronaldo) and try to win the four games you’re set up against in order to win the big prize. This allows players to build a dream team and take on the world, but also provides the challenge of getting 100 chemistry, which is vital to Ultimate Team. Whether you plan to go for chemistry, or build the best side you could possibly build, FUT Draft is filled with endless possibilities, shock draft pulls, a team you never want to look at again, or a team you wish you could afford to play with for the rest of your FIFA career. Definitely a game mode worth checking out at least once, as it provides players with a mental challenge, as well as a test to their abilities.
Who knows, you could end up with a front line like Ronaldo – Martinez – Messi, or Messi – Neymar – Suarez, or Ronaldo – Benzema – Bale. The threats and possibilities are endless, and truly drives a player’s creativity to see what masterpiece they can create with the tools provided.
Finally, the most important feature that I think was added to FIFA 16.
Women’s National Teams.
Women finally get the coverage they deserve in football games, and it came through FIFA, naturally. Why they’ve been left out for so long is questionable, but the important thing is that they’re in the game in some form. The teams are USA, Canada, Mexico, Brazil, England, Spain, Germany, Italy, France, Sweden, China, and Australia.
Women’s National Teams are available in Kick Off, Tournament Mode, and Friendlies. No Manager Mode…
Well, okay, it’s a start, but… Considering how long women have been playing for, you’d think there would be more. I would have loved to have taken the reigns of The Matildas in my manager Career Mode and taken them to World Cup glory eventually, and if it took long, to just have had randomly generated talent come in so I could pick from them. It is a start, but these three game modes are limiting, yet fun to play in.
I decided to try a kick off game, with Australia vs China. I had already worn out my use of USA and Germany in the demo.
I was really excited to play with a women’s team. Far more excited than I have been ever before for FIFA. Actually, this is probably the driving force behind my immediate purchase of FIFA 16. It’s always a pride of mine to lead Australia out virtually. I can now do it with the women’s team too.
Leading out players like Kyah Simon, Lisa de Vanna, Samantha Kerr, Melissa Barberi is truly something different. I proudly supported these women during the 2015 World Cup in Canada, and I can do so in this game too.
Scoring absolute rockets with Simon, de Vanna and Kerr was a blast. Stringing together passes with van Egmond made me excited. I felt good, and the scoreline reflected it. 5-2.
Playing with players like Carli Lloyd, Alex Morgan, Hope Solo, all of the World Cup heroes was exhilarating. I could finally do what I’ve been longing to do, and that’s play with a women’s side. Seeing their overalls and stats made me truly happy.
However, the happiness is short lived. They are not in career mode, so there’s only so much fun one can have with the women’s team. Whilst their addition is probably the biggest thing since the introduction of FIFA Ultimate Team, there is still a long way to go in terms of their place in the game. Eventually, I would like to see the women’s leagues in the game, more national teams and the ability to take over a women’s team as National Team manager, and manage a women’s side in a league. Maybe even gendered managers. Those features would be nice.
Alas, for now, this is a great stepping stone, but there is still a great way to go.
Overall, FIFA 16 feels like more of a challenge this year, as if I need to re-learn how to play, which is a good thing to me, since it makes it feel as if the mechanics have changed, and they have evidently. The FUT Draft is a wonderful insertion into the game itself and provides loads of fun strategically and gameplay wise. The addition of women in the game is a step, but more steps are required in order to do the women’s game true justice.
As for the servers.. Well. We all know the story for that. Definitely needs remedying.
Finesse shots need a slight nerf, and so does defence overall.
Since FIFA is a hard game to review, since it builds off of the last one, I must say it’s a general improvement overall compared to FIFA 15.
So, to that, I say well done EA.
Review by Jonah Raj