Developer: EA Canada
Publisher: EA Sports
Platform: PC [Reviewed], Xbox One, Xbox 360, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3
Release Date: September 22, 2015
Another year, another FIFA. As the sports season continues to roll out, we are once again granted another edition of the world’s most popular sport. Like most sports games, it’s the minor tweaks and features that make the game differ from its predecessors, but in this year’s edition, we were given something monumental – women’s national teams.
If you are unfamiliar with the history of the FIFA video game franchise, there has been a tradition of acknowledging the existence of the women’s teams, but neglecting to include them in each rendition of the game. This is the first year that they have been included, somewhat delivering more depth to the franchise. Every year, we would hear the same statement claiming that “this will be a feature down the road” or even hope that it would be a DLC at some point.
As gamers patiently awaited (relatively) the inclusion of the female teams—the wait is finally over. With 12 countries represented, you can now play the Women’s National Team Tournament in FIFA 16 complete with full player likeness and of course team USA’s dominating stats. Sorry, World.
If you were hoping to pin a women’s national team against an all-male team, you will be disappointed. There is no career mode as a woman athlete, no free play as a women’s team, and there are no women players in Ultimate Team. There is only the National Team Tournament. While that is indeed a disappointing fact, keep in mind that the inclusion of women in the game is monumental in its own right. Future versions of FIFA will most likely slowly add to the diversity of gameplay with the FIFA ladies.
For those of you returning to the FIFA franchise, you won’t find much different compared to last year’s version. The minor adjustments made to gameplay mechanics are so miniscule that it is hardly noticeable unless you do a side-by-side comparison.
That being so, if you are new to the franchise, you are in for quite a ride. The graphics are fantastic, the gameplay is very fluid, and the stadium sounds are top-tier. Capturing the energy of a soccer arena was a key focus in FIFA 16. When a goal is scored, the camera will shake as the entire stadium erupts with cheers and chants. This makes scoring a goal feel more rewarding than ever before.
There is also an inclusion of a “trainer” in gameplay that you can toggle on-and-off. This sets a white circle around your player which I like to call your player’s “personal space bubble”. This will also indicate which actions and buttons should be performed with your highlighted player.
For example, when defending, the layout will suggest to tackle or slide tackle and indicate what button or key to press to accomplish this. For new players, this is a fantastic feature that will help you get acclimated to the keyboard or controller scheme. For veteran or returning players, this feature is also very helpful more for the personal space bubble. I found myself keeping the trainer on only for the bubble as it greatly assisted with timing precision tackles and takeaways as well as aiming shots and passes.
There are a few new features when entering career mode: The first being this inclusion of a “starter tournament” when you create a new Manager. You will have the option to enter your team into one of three friendly world tournaments. This helps with adjusting your squads, formations, and getting an overall feel for your team before jumping right into a season.
The second big feature is the ability to put your players through training drills between matches to advance skills are overall team stats. This is also available in career player mode where you can train your digital athlete in five different attributes like dribbling, passing, defending, or penalty kicks. The last major upgraded feature was including more realistic transfer budgets for Managers and the inclusion of more “aware” AI when it comes to game announcing. If your player or team has been particularly bad at defending, the announcers will now actually mention this in your next match. This drives the focus more around team management than individual players.
Yet despite these enhancements, as I advanced my career player, I couldn’t help but feel that this was the same exact routine I’ve experienced for several years straight. The menu screens, career goals, customize player options, were all the same.
Even my GameFace hasn’t changed in three years, which attempting to update was nearly impossible. The GameFace website still shows FIFA 13 and the player hub is no longer in existence. This area needs a major update. GameFace was a big draw back when it was introduced several years ago with games like Grand Slam Tennis 2 and Fight Night Champions. While my original GameFace is still active, I was sadly let down that I could not update this. NBA Live 16 will have a companion phone app that uses the GameFace scanning technology. Hopefully this will make its way to FIFA in the future.
The lack of changes can be attributed to EA’s heavy push with Ultimate Team. It has been EA Sports’ front running game mode now for several editions. Ultimate Team is highly addicting, time consuming, and very frustrating.
Unless you are willing to break out your wallet for microtransaction-after-microtransaction, you will be stuck playing on the free-to-play system. As we all know thanks to mobile gaming, this business model is not always “free”. Player packs are expensive with regular coin, and the affordable packs will only grant you one or two worthwhile players—sometimes.
Don’t get me wrong, Ultimate Team can provide endless entertainment, but you get what you put into it.
The Bottom Line
FIFA 16 is a solid update to an already fantastic EA Sports title. While there are several new features that enhance gameplay quite a bit, there is still more of the same old, same old. For new players, this is a great edition to pick-up. For returning players, weigh your options.
If updated rosters are a big deal for you, then you will want to get the newest edition, however, if you are more of a casual FIFA player, there may not be enough “new” to warrant a purchase.