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FIFA 16 Review

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Frustration…

Back in June, after playing preview code before E3, I stated that FIFA 16 could be the best in the series if EA didn’t mess things up. That sentiment (mostly) held true after I played it at gamescom too, so it’s fair to say I was very much looking forward to the final game. After playing it for a solid week, hours on end, it pains me to say FIFA 16 doesn’t manage to take that crown. In fact, on a gameplay level, it’s one of the most disappointing entries in the series to date.

Game: FIFA 16
Developer: EA Sports
Publisher: EA
Reviewed on:

ps4fifa16 x1fifa16

(PS4 review code provided by publisher, Xbox One version played via EA Access)

It all starts off well, with slower pace of the game and the ability to play a good passing football impressing, but delve further and the shine starts to wear off. This is mainly down to the changes EA has made to the defensive AI. It’s an element of FIFA 16 which, depending on whether you’re playing other humans or on your own, is indifferent to say the least. If you’re playing multiplayer (online or off), the new defensive AI is great. Your teammates will cover spaces well and track back intelligently, leaving you less exposed on the break or vulnerable to players with pace. It’s a refreshing change compared to FIFA 15, making multiplayer matches lots of fun. However, offline, playing against the AI (on world class or above), it makes for a horribly frustrating experience.

You see, it seems like EA forgot to balance or tweak the defensive AI to cater for a good experience when you’re not playing a human. Your AI opponents, no matter the team, will usually hold a very rigid, unrealistically solid defensive line. This, more often than not, will mean you have to pass, pass and pass again in an attempt to break down two banks of four to create a chance or simple shooting opportunity. This might sound fun and “realistic” to some, but given that the pitch in FIFA is already quite small it makes for an extremely frustrating experience. 99% of the time, I felt like I had very little space to manoeuvre in and create nice, flowing passing moves. Even when I did, the opposition would home in and close down the space before I had a moment to think about my next move. Throw in some incredibly static attacking AI (you have to press a button to trigger teammates to run) and it’s just not fun. The majority of my games ended 0-0, 1-0 or 2-1, and I’m very few of them were the true definition of fun.

All of this has a domino effect, with the lack of space making dribbling in FIFA 16 a complete chore. There little to no room to express yourself with the decent players let alone the star ones. Given the reliance on top players in FIFA 15, especially their pace, I get what EA has tried to do, but they’ve gone completely the other way. Dribbling feels like you’re battling with a combination of your controller and the game itself. It doesn’t feel responsive, with players taking an extra touch or two rather than moving in the direction you want. It almost feels like you’re trudging through mud. As a result, before you know it the opponent is on top of you in flash or simply shuts down the space you want to move into. One of the new features, no touch dribbling, helps to somewhat alleviate the frustrating nature of the dribbling, but far from a solution. Plus, this facet of the beautiful game isn’t all about feints and skills, so it really shouldn’t be a “fix” in any case.

On the off chance you do manage to create some sort of space, the shooting isn’t particularly satisfying. Pardon the pun, but it’s incredibly hit and miss. It was the same in FIFA 15, and it would appear EA has done little to fix this part of the game. Sometimes it will feel great when you smash the ball into the net, whereas you’ll feel like you’ve punted a heavy balloon. Thankfully, unlike last year, goalkeepers react pretty well to shots. Sure, they’ll make the occasional error, but nothing catastrophic like FIFA 15. I just wish the shooting was a bit more consistent so the shot stopper could shine a bit more. Still, it’s not all bad as the passing side of FIFA 16 is excellent. You can actually play a nice game of passing football; it’s just shame that surrounding elements (mentioned earlier) restrict you from taking full advantage of it, especially the new ‘pass with purpose’. Due to the lack of space, it’s actual purpose is almost completely negated. That said, the passing side of the game is still one of the best parts of the game. The new dynamic crossing (actually varied depending on players in the box) is also very good, and something you’ll do a lot given the lack of space in the middle of the pitch.

Gameplay is mixed bag, but EA continues to excel with its presentation in FIFA 16. That Sky Sports broadcast feel is more apparent than ever, with player stat comparisons displayed before matches and noticeably improved commentary. Martin Tyler and Alan Smith are great, chatting about relevant topics and building up matches nicely. It’s the best, most natural sounding commentary I’ve heard in a FIFA game to date. The visuals side of the game is mostly positive, with improved player models heading up the new changes. Body types still have some way to go, but now look far more realistic than the WWE style ones that plagued FIFA 15. Moving hair is now in too, thanks to the introduction of women’s football (more on that in a bit). Gameplay visuals remain vibrant even though some detail is lost compared to close up shots, but that’s to be expected given the impressive stadiums and 3D crowds. Animations are mostly buttery smooth, but this year more than any other I noticed at times it feels like the game is a bit over-animated. Players will take an extra touch or move a little bit more than you want them to, resulting in a lack of responsiveness. There’s also a slight drop in the frame rate during foggy matches or snow. Nothing huge, but it’s worth a mention nonetheless.

Quality of gameplay and small visual niggles aside, as a package, FIFA 16 is fantastic. All the modes from last year are present (both online and off), with new additions to career mode and Ultimate Team (FUT) bulking things up. I’m still not a huge fan of the mode (think it’s extremely unbalanced), but if you dig FUT then you’ll get right on with what’s on offer in FIFA 16. The introduction of the draft mode to FUT means you can quickly get into the mode, get some top players and go online to earn some prizes. It’s essentially a way to get new people into FUT mode proper by giving them a taste and eventually getting them hooked. I didn’t bite, but I did enjoy the immediacy of it and the fact that it’s actually (ironically) more balanced the proper mode.

Career mode is FIFA 16’s other big mode, and boy is it fantastic. From player management to transfers, the depth is almost up there with Football Manager. The additions of pre-season tournaments and player training only serve to highlight its brilliance. Depending on how you do, you earn extra transfer money by jetting off to play in friendly cups with the likes of Barcelona and Juventus. It’s great, giving pre-season matches some meaning, especially if you need that extra cash to fund a big deal. Player training allows you to train up to five players in different areas, improving certain attributes based on how they do. It’s pretty balanced too, as mainly the promising young players will improve at a steady rate. Older players will improve slowly, or sometimes not at all. Example, I trained Anthony Martial for half a season on his finishing and he went from 77 to just over 78 in that area. It’s completely your choice if you want to play or simulate these sessions too. I mixed and matched, choosing to simulate more than play in a bid to move through the season.

Elsewhere, the introduction of women’s football is a big headline, and it’s pretty good. I’d even go as far as saying it’s more fun, responsive and open than the men’s game. It’s a slight disappointment that you can only play as women in a few modes, but I’d imagine their inclusion in FIFA 16 is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of what EA has planned. I just hope that before they think about expanding that part of the game for FIFA 17, they look long and hard at the mixed bag that is the gameplay in FIFA 16. It’s a real shame that it has ended up like this. The preview code I played before E3 was fantastic, verging on being the best FIFA and in turn a great football game. However, yet again, EA has delivered a final product that is quite a bit off what they showed off a few months before release. Is it better than FIFA 15? Yes, probably, but just. Is it better than FIFA 14? No, and that speaks volumes. Personally, I think it might be time for a new engine as it seems like Ignite is holding EA back from taking that next step with FIFA. That step to match something like NBA 2K16. I could be wrong, but either way EA has to do something next year otherwise Konami will smell blood.

VERDICT

Jam packed with top modes and great presentation, FIFA 16 continues EA’s tradition of offering lots to get stuck into. However, when it comes to gameplay, it’s a different story altogether. Against other humans it’s enjoyable enough, but play against the AI on higher difficulty settings and its flaws are very much apparent. More frustrating than fun, FIFA 16 is one of the most disappointing games in the series to date.

7/10

A SECOND OPINION

Adam Neaves: After hours upon hours of playing FIFA 16 one word rushed through me head when I sat down to write this second opinion… Frustration.

FIFA 16 plays a balanced enough game of football. The pace of FIFA 15 has been toned down a lot, defensive awareness of your team-mates has improved and it’s fun to play with your friends. Playing against Asim, we had a couple of great matches, which included some memorable moments such as Asim completely destroying me with Memphis Depay! Unfortunately, the same cannot be said about playing on the higher difficulties against the AI. The fun just dissolves instantly into pure frustration. What looks like a big pitch suddenly turns into a small cage, with next to no space available to move around in. This isn’t fun, nor is it realistic, making it a real chore just to finish a match. EA needs to make huge improvements to the AI and balance things next if they want their fantastic career mode to truly shine next year.

To sum up, FIFA 16 is a decent football game, but ultimately extremely frustrating. EA needs to think hard about where its heading when it comes to FIFA 17. An overhaul might well be in order.

47
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JammyUX
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JammyUX

Do you think the ‘space issue’ playing against the AI could be tweaked with the sliders, have you looked at this option yet as to what settings have you based this review on?
Sounds disappointing 🙁

obbarius
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obbarius

Ahh – couldn’t post here earlier. Disregard my email, Asim, questions are better posted here. Just like Jammy i was wondering if sliders could make up for some of the problems, but also setting the game speed to slow. Also, have you noticed anything about morale in career mode? I… Read more »

JammyUX
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JammyUX

Taking the review above with a pinch of salt, patches and sliders will (hopefully improve the game). Matt10 & Orion said it’s miles better than Fifa 15 and already have sliders available if you Google you should find them.

obbarius
Guest
obbarius

You’re absolutely right. I never touch the slider in the beginning in order to get used to the game as it is, and playing the demo i found it as frustrating as Asim. Part of that is getting used to old tricks not working anymore and finding new ones that… Read more »

shaan
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shaan

its the same every year, hence why i buy both games every year, pes excels offline and fifa online. yeah i agree the pitch feel very small at times, but they normally produce 4 gameplay patches etc, i feel like the roles have been reversed, pes is more arcaedy and… Read more »

Rich
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Rich

I’ve played both the Demo and 10 hours of EA Early Access. A majority of the 10 hour trial I spent playing FUT online against real people, I have no idea how good the opponents were I was playing, but I found the experience overall very frustrating. Every review I’ve… Read more »

Göönerjay
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Göönerjay

Bang on. Half way through my first season in career with Arsenal and there are some things i like and the game doesn’t feel so arcady. Can’t stand the AI defence this year though. Every single team is the most organised, energetic, high work rate defence you will have ever… Read more »

Rich
Guest
Rich

Great comments… The more I play the more I get frustrated with my inability to effectively pass. Even using players with +80 short passing rating, I’m missing players with the short pass…they don’t even come close at times. That is if they are not intercepted. I’ve never had this problem… Read more »

obbarius
Guest
obbarius

I agree per default you have to hold down the button too long to get power on shots and apsses, which means you get caught on the ball, but there’s a setting for that. You can adjust how quickly the power bar fills, so that’s easily fixed.

JammyUX
Guest
JammyUX

FYI – ‘slow gameplay’ is the in the settings, which is the game speed, by default this is set to ‘normal’, but in the past all Fifa games are more enjoyable in this ‘slow gameplay’ mode, just switch it to ‘slow’ and see how it plays?

Rich
Guest
Rich

That only applies to offline gameplay though right?

kenneth
Guest
kenneth

the game is crap this year. a fifa15,5 game. i agree they really need a new engine and really step up! nba2k games is miles ahead of fifa now. frustrating for us football lovers

Martin Vlach
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Martin Vlach

Do you play on full manual controls? I play it several years this way and the game is high above using auto or semi-auto controls. The pace and the chance creating is much more realistic because it is YOU who creates the game, who must think and aim first before… Read more »

AsimT
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AsimT

I tried all pass settings. Always do. Still the same core gameplay. Won’t magically change.

JammyUX
Guest
JammyUX

I play on semi-manual, all manual (passing, thru-balls, crossing etc) except shooting (because I’m not used to it yet.)

obbarius
Guest
obbarius

I see what you mean. Introducing more error using the sliders (for both cpu and human) gives the game a huge lift and makes it much more enjoyable. Much more alive and unpredictable. I tried on full manual once (and believe me i do have the patience to learn it),… Read more »

Martin Vlach
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Martin Vlach

Without patience you never achieve anything valuable. The value you get always reflects what you invested.

BanjoTandoori
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BanjoTandoori

I don’t visit this site often anymore because these days it is quite neglected. But I can’t help feel disappointed in important aspects of this review. Rather than complain about the single player AI and ‘lack of space’, why didn’t Asim try changing difficulty or adjusting a few sliders? Only… Read more »

AsimT
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AsimT

Also, I played for a week before reviewing. Around 50 hours. Oh and yeah, totally biased. From the guy who loves FIFA 14. Played FIFA (not PES) from 08 to 14. Slated PES 2014. Yup, I’m totally biased.

BanjoTandoori
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BanjoTandoori

Ok. Good of you to respond and clarify.

Jamie Amaral
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Jamie Amaral

You’re simply a moron. FIFA 16 is hugely disappointing, and this is coming from someone who has played them all to date. PES doesn’t need sliders because the AI actually know how to play football. You don’t get teams like Stoke doing Barcelona passing as I just experienced in FIFA… Read more »

BanjoTandoori
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BanjoTandoori

Are you always so small-minded and obnoxious? Indeed, I see a lot of your Disqus posts across the boards are inane personal attacks on people who have a different point of view. https://disqus.com/by/jamieamaral/ As for being ‘a moron’ for liking a modded FIFA 16, you yourself recently posted “I’d argue… Read more »

AsimT
Guest
AsimT

Also, we update the site regularly with news. Adam Neaves does it all the time. I don’t look after FSB anymore, but help out now and again.

AsimT
Guest
AsimT

Also, I messed around with team tactics too. No help.

AsimT
Guest
AsimT
Medhatithi Chattopadhyay
Guest
Medhatithi Chattopadhyay

Who are saying bad things about this game first learn to play it , or shut your mouth.This game use pure hardcore and majority of hardcore players love it. So kids find any other game for this year to play don’t be a cry baby and if u want to… Read more »

AsimT
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AsimT

Yup, I’m a moron. Completely.

Salman Kon
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Salman Kon

Dude… you are a noob. This game sucks ass. It’s supposed to be a videogame, not real life. EA give beautiful passing, then f— it up with OP interceptions. Great idea, horrible execution.

JammyUX
Guest
JammyUX

Harsh but people are easy to jump the gun if they first of all don’t like it, I haven’t played it yet (PS4) getting it at midnight today, so I’ll give an update on how I thought it plays, but even Fifa 15 was frustrating at times but you still… Read more »

Mustafa Bile
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Mustafa Bile

I love the way Fifa fanboys cry like babies when they come across a score rating they do not like from by a review. He gave you his honest review, take it like men and keep your mouths shut! Fifa is a scripted game, and do not even try to… Read more »

BanjoTandoori
Guest
BanjoTandoori

Talk of scripting in FIFA is a broken old record. Have you even played 16 much? The consensus is, if anything, it’s more appropriate to talk about scripting in PES these days.

Jamie Amaral
Guest
Jamie Amaral

There is no scripting in PES, I can safely say after a good amount of time with both games, that FIFA is insane with the scripting.

Mustafa Bile
Guest
Mustafa Bile

Good to know that you admit the game is scripted, i always find it funny how not a single Fifa player denies this. Scripting in Pes? Don’t make me laugh, pes 08-12 were bad, also include pes 2014, but not scripted. There is a reason why Pes 2016 is repeatedly… Read more »

dibils
Guest
dibils

so you praise it when you were getting access to early builds but now the games out the gameplay is shit?

Jamie Amaral
Guest
Jamie Amaral

In fairness, the demo seemed to play completely different than the full game for me.

dibils
Guest
dibils

i hear this all the time.. i dont get it. they play exactly the same, go back and play the demo, then do the same match in the full game.. do you still think they completely changed the game?

Fran Sáez
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Fran Sáez
Rami Qassom
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Rami Qassom

maybe the reviewer should start watching real football games.

Ιορδάνης Χότζογλου
Guest
Ιορδάνης Χότζογλου

I disagree with this review completely. FIFA is a football sandbox. It gives you the sliders, it gives you the ability to edit the players attributes if you want it so much and most importantly it gives you amazing foot planting,thousands of animations for every situation on the field, realistic… Read more »

andrew
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andrew

i think fifa 14 is the best game so great to play geting the goals is good this blog is great the content is good all lade out nice http://games-for-all-consoles1.blogspot.co.uk/

Sports Network
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Sports Network

-~-~~-~~~-~~-~-
Please watch: “FIFA Skills, Tricks & Moves in Real Life | NEW”
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9BKyn88POuw
-~-~~-~~~-~~-~-

Reaz
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Reaz

Buy any players on Fifa 16 for FREE.. Get Free Coins and Points On Fifa 16.. What are you waiting for? http://fifa2016coinsgenerator.blogspot.com/

JustFashion
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JustFashion

Free FIFA 16 Coins: http://free-fifa16-coins.com/

kenneth
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kenneth

i hope fifa 17 is much better because this year it is one of the worst fifa ever! the same year in year out! on gameplay pes is so much better this year! and i really want more from the career mode! beside the matches wanna see thinks like in… Read more »

jim
Guest
jim

This looks like a good game for my grandson,is it hard

rsgolecuicui
Guest
rsgolecuicui

Who are saying bad things about this game first learn to play it!
u2fifa

rsgolecuicui
Guest
rsgolecuicui

with sliders, you can find the perfect balance of realism and fun for yourself.
mmogo