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FIFA 16 review

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Summary

Our Score:

7

Pros

  • Stronger defense play than last year
  • Improved career modes
  • Draft makes Ultimate Team more accessible
  • Briliant match-day atmosphere

Cons

  • A slower, less exciting game than last year
  • Defence AI still struggles with fast players

Available on Xbox One (reviewed), PS4, PC

So, can FIFA 16 make it two storming performances in a row? In most respects, yes, building on EA Sport’s more authentic brand of football and fixing many of the few complaints we had about FIFA 15. The graphics and presentation might not have moved on much, but it’s an even more welcoming game of football and its modes are better fleshed out. All the same, some things have changed since FIFA 15, and not everyone will find these changes welcome. If you were looking for a polished, perfected version of the last FIFA, you won’t find what you’re looking for here.

Read also: FIFA 16 Best Players

It won’t take you long to spot why. This year, EA has focused on tightening up the defensive play while adding more scope for building attacks in the midfield. The AI has been rebuilt to work better as a unit, closing down on attacking players, restricting their angles of attack and giving you more support to go in and make the tackle without worrying that your CPU controlled team-mates will fall apart and let an easy shot or threatening cross through. The midfield, meanwhile, sees revamped rapid fire pass mechanics balanced by equally smart intercept AI.

FIFA 16

The result is a step away from the hugely exciting but slightly silly end-to-end play of FIFA 15 and a step back towards the slower, more methodical defensive play of FIFA 13 and 14. On the one hand, the defence is significantly stronger, strikers are easier to pin down and fast-paced attacking players aren’t continually storming your goal – all fixes for some of the major complaints fans had about last year’s FIFA. Time passes correctly and they’re fast, precise and controllable, helping you transform a sudden interception into a speedy, laser-guided assault on the oppositions’ goal. On the other hand, there’s more of a tendency to get bogged down in the midfield and to have carefully executed assaults on goal spoilt by last-minute interceptions or an impenetrable defence. The upshot? FIFA is both a better, more authentic football game and a harder one to love.

Let’s not go crazy. We’re still a long way from the dull, low scoreline football of FIFA 13 and 14, and while FIFA 16 hasn’t got FIFA 15’s pace or excitement, it’s nowhere near as slow as some of the more lunatic Pro Evo fans are making out. It’s not such a crowd-pleasing, goal-a-minute footie game as its predecessor, but there’s tension and release to be found in building up your play, tacking advantage of opponent errors and driving the ball forwards towards goal.

See also: PS4 vs Xbox One

FIFA 16

And while the defensive AI still seems curiously more vulnerable to solo runs by fast-paced players than flurries of passes followed by a cross and a shot, you’re not constantly being bulldozed by the likes of Messi and Ronaldo speeding through the centre and planting one right in the net. FIFA 16 has class. It’s happy for you to score but it won’t give you goals for playing cheap.

The core modes, meanwhile, see significant improvements. Career mode, again split into Manager and Player careers, has a bit more to it, with more emphasis on training and on drills to give your player’s skills a boost. While playing only as one player on the pitch won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, it still grounds the experience and makes you think more carefully about how you find opportunities, watch for incoming threats and support attacking team-mates. And if you prefer to control the whole team, that’s still very much on the menu.

See also: Best Xbox One Games 2016

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Ultimate Team – FIFA’s brilliant collectible card game meets fantasy football combo - remains one of the jewels in the FIFA crown, not to mention the key reason that fans keep coming back months after release. All the same, it’s always required the kind of commitment you’d associate with a Hearthstone, Diablo III or Destiny – fail to put in regular hours and you won’t get all that far.

Luckily, EA Sports appears to have both noticed and thought about what it could do to broaden Ultimate Team’s appeal. FIFA 16’s solution is FUT Draft Mode. Choose a difficulty level then choose a formation. Now pick a captain from a selection of world-class players to build your team around. Finally, pick your other players, get them in position and choose your team a manager, looking all the time to build synergies between your players that will affect the overall chemistry rating of your team. When you’re done, you can compete in a series of up to four matches, staying in and winning bigger prizes until you’re beaten. Coins, packs and loan players are all up for grabs.

See also: Best PS4 Games 2015

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The great thing about Draft mode is that you can put a few hours in and get something out, while getting a chance to field players you might never get your hands on in the conventional Ultimate Team mode. You can also learn about different strategies and building chemistry without wasting hours on some lame duck squad. If it’s a gateway drug to the full-scale Ultimate Team then it’s brutally effective. Draft mode could easily get you hooked. And beyond this we get the usual mix of solo friendlies and exhibition matches, tournaments and co-op championships, not to mention online leagues and games.

Draft mode isn’t the only concession to accessibility. Inter-match drills are better than ever, teaching genuinely useful skills and strategies, while a new built-in trainer surrounds the current player with a glowing ring plus context-sensitive prompts for appropriate buttons to press. Old-hands can switch it off quickly and without remorse, but if you’re trying to learn FIFA or teach someone else, you’ll find the trainer’s tips invaluable.

See also: Best Games 2015

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In terms of presentation, FIFA hasn’t moved on much since last year, but then last year was already pretty damn good. The visuals and music capture the atmosphere of live TV football coverage, with impressive if rather dead-eyed facsimiles of the world’s leading players and the best action replays in the business. The commentary from Alan Smith and Martin Tyler is almost eerily spot on. True, it grows repetitive the more you play, but players are picked out and discussed so believably and mistakes spotted so quickly that it’s sometimes hard to believe that the Sky Sports duo aren’t looking through the window at your TV screen. It’s a shame that things fall apart slightly if you switch to another headline feature – coverage of the women’s national teams. The commentary is fine but the presentation overall isn’t quite so slick and TV-like.

That aside, this is another fine FIFA, and while – hand on heart – I prefer the more aggressive style of FIFA 15, my reservations melt away with every hour. This might not be the most boisterous or action-packed version of the beautiful game, but it is a more believable one. It’s still stirring and atmospheric, with a real depth and thought to all its game modes. EA Sports has done things differently, but it has delivered a storming FIFA once again.

See also: PS4 vs PS3

FIFA 16

Sadlly, storming may no longer be enough. Last year Pro Evo gave FIFA some real competition, and this year that competition’s even fiercer. Powered by the same Fox Engine technology as Metal Gear Solid V, PES 2016 looks better than FIFA, has more realistic-looking players and – with the UEFA Champions League license, some of the old licensing issues seem behind it. More importantly, it plays a wonderfully fluid and exciting game of football that this year’s FIFA struggles to match. We’re still playing the new Pro Evo and working on a full review and it's entirely possible that problems may emerge with longer play. Yet this looks like a vintage year for Konami. Do you really want to buy FIFA instead?

Verdict

FIFA has abandoned some of the fast, furious, end-to-end play of FIFA 15 in favour of a tighter, more believable defensive game, but if that saps out a little of the fun, there’s compensation in the improved Career game mode and the more accessible Ultimate Team Draft mode. In fact, FIFA’s problem isn’t that it doesn’t play a great game of football, but that this particular version might not be great enough. With Pro Evo looking incredibly strong this year, the more conservative, authenticity-focused FIFA seems a little less exciting than it is.

Overall Score

7

John

June 18, 2015, 10:14 am

"David Luiz manages to stay in position"
It's clearly not very realistic then!

Sir_Ostepop Er Brun På Tunga

September 8, 2015, 7:38 am

I want diving back.

Ian Cooper

September 22, 2015, 10:08 am

"On the other hand, there’s more of a tendency to get bogged down in the midfield and to have carefully executed assaults on goal spoilt by last-minute interceptions or an impenetrable defence."

Okay, but isn't that what real football is like? Previous FIFA titles have been ridiculously movemented, with the ball often going from one side of the field to the other within seconds. The other problem has been the ease of scoring, with end-of-match scoreboards that all too often look like those of American Football rather than soccer. Surely, what the game needs is slowing down in midfield and better defense, so that video game matches look more like real football matches.

Crunchipop

September 22, 2015, 9:55 pm

PES 2016 looks better than FIFA, LMAO!!!, these was really funny, hehehehe nice joke guys

Jonathan Martinez

September 23, 2015, 3:42 pm

I don't know about you guys but so far I don't like it at all. Referee calls fails every 2 seconds and shows yellow cards for no F.... reason. so Frustrating. passing is so slow and fast players are not fast anymore. WTF???

SkjerpingsMister

September 24, 2015, 11:48 am

Ugh, I hate FIFA 16 already. Worst FIFA game in many years. Touches are horrible, passes are bad, and players going on retarded runs...

ghost

September 24, 2015, 4:19 pm

This game is atrocious. I would have been better lighting that $60 on fire for warmth.

The players are essentially all the same speed, agility means nothing, even the best players struggle first touching simple passes, and the runs are ridiculously bad. I doubt I'll play it even one more time.

Phil Hoyle

September 25, 2015, 6:58 am

Cant find an online head to head mode also you cant change defending from tactical and legacy!!!

Jbond

September 26, 2015, 12:48 pm

I like the game. I usually skip a year before buying the next Fifa. I read the comments and there are a few things I agree with. Diving was fun. Keeping players like messi from bombarding the goal is nice. Like the article said, that was pretty cheap play. I like career mode, pretty good. The game scores a 10/10 for me.

Dennis H

September 27, 2015, 5:54 pm

One of the worst FIFA games I've played in a long while. The graphics can't save it. Yes, the AI has been rebuilt, but stringing 8-10 touch passes without blinking and turning on a dime and scoring when you don't even know where the goals are is absolutely ridiculous. It literally is playing against a computer that's 3x faster in reactions that the players aren't able to pressure. The passing system is shot, and unmanageable. 5 out of 10 for me.

Stens95

October 6, 2015, 10:20 pm

After paying 70euro for fifa 16 over a week ago I can honestly say it was the biggest mistake of my life , the game is gone so bad I have stopped playing it and gone back to playing Fifa 15 and also moved on to play Pes. EA you need to sort out that passing and even the shooting like its gone to dirt and quite frankly its a bit boring. Sad times EA I buy your game every year never do I play Pes, always stick to Fifa but if this crap is going to carry on I guess im going to have to get use to Pes.

JohanQ

October 11, 2015, 5:56 am

Wow.... after playing around 50 games online and offline, I just have to say that this is one of the WORST FIFA ever. U cant tackle anyone because the ref is too hard, penalty given too opposite team without u even tackle them, my defenders stumble on the opposition and penalty is given.
Trusted reviews cant be trusted this time, I give this game 4/10, and dont buy it, kepp playing Fifa 14 or 15.

Peter Pirsten

October 29, 2015, 8:34 pm

FUT, as I prefer to play, is limited to a bronze tournament, a silver tournament and a gold tournament on online or AI mode. Furthermore there is seasons. A fairly narrow range in comparison with previous versions of FUT.

FIFA 16 is much harder then previous versions. Online has always been tough, but now the AI is probably even tougher. Unless you are prepared to lose every second game, If you are a moderate gamer, playing 4-10 hours a week, FIFA 16 not for you. First you become frustrated, then just bored.

Disgruntled Manutd Fan

November 1, 2015, 7:09 pm

Leave David Luiz aloneeeeee...lol ..what has he done to you ...lol
On a serious note..you're correct..he's shit but Fifa 16 made him look good...total pants!

Tevin Parker

December 3, 2015, 9:00 pm

Lol good suggestion.. fifa 16 is nowhere complete to 14/15 although there might be few glicthes but its still good whether offline or online.

Tevin Parker

December 3, 2015, 9:02 pm

I agree.. total rip off bra

Tj

January 15, 2016, 12:09 pm

Love FIFA 16 its the only game I play now. So my friend put me on to this http://959f98osmowkzv8-8qn8qem... and im addicted.

Luís da Cunha

January 18, 2016, 12:17 pm

Come on, you better than this EA!!! Back to FIFA 14 was the best game i played, now this BAD game, this WORST FIFA 16, you definitely can do better! Sorry, but i'm considering to play PES... Again!

Premier Gaming League

February 23, 2016, 10:01 pm

Our company Premier Gaming League is hosting a FIFA 16 tournament with some of the best players in the country. Registration is open, If you register before the end of February you will receive 50% off on your next tournament registration! For a short time only!

http://elevatedgamerinc.wix.co...

Mario De Souza Guedes

April 5, 2016, 3:05 pm

Horrible game. Stupid AI and a really slow, frustrating pace. And, the worse of all, how many wrong passes can you have in a single match? I play Fifa since Fifa 94 and, after the awful Fifa 15, the somehow managed to make it even worse. Rubish. Can I have my money back please????

Mario De Souza Guedes

April 5, 2016, 3:09 pm

I still have to play Fifa 14 due to the ridiculous 15 and the even worse 16. What are you doing EA?

Mario De Souza Guedes

April 5, 2016, 3:13 pm

That game is a complete rubbish mate... 1/10... just because the graphics looks good, otherwise it would be 0 out of 10.

Mario De Souza Guedes

April 5, 2016, 3:14 pm

The worse ever. I would not pay £1,00 for that.

Matched Betting Site

April 22, 2016, 4:05 pm

The game is absolutely dreadful this year. To busy raping peoples' bank accounts rather than improving the game.

Michael Fom

June 11, 2016, 2:41 am

No no no no no no no no no no no no! FIFA 16 IS NOT!!!!!!!! I REPEAT IS NOT! A DREADFUL GAME AT ALL. ANYBODY READING THIS SHOULD JUST BELIEVE ME..AND PLEASE ANY FIFA DEVELOPER THAT HAS READ THE PREVIOUS COMMENTS SHOULD PAY NO MIND TO THEM. WHAT DO YOU GUYS WANT? ANYBODY THAT DOESN'T LIKE FIFA 16 SIMPLY ISN'T JUST GOOD AT PLAYING AND GOES ON TO SPIT UTTER NONSENSE ABOUT IT. I TOTALLY LOVE LOVE LOVE THIS GAME AND FIFA15 HAS NOTHING ON IT . IF YOU PREFER 15 OR 14 THEN REALLY YOU SHOULD QUESTION YOUR GAMING SKILLS CAUSE ALL YOU DID IN THOSE PREVIOUS TITLES WERE LOB THROUGH BALLS AND SPEED CHEAT. FIFA 16 IS PERFECTLY BALANCED IF ANANYTHING I FEAR FOR ALL THE BAD COMMENTS PEOPLE MAKE ABOUT IT WHICH I CAN'T COMPREHEND AND I HOPE YOU DON'T DRIVE THE DEVELOPERS TO MAKE A WRONG TURN. MY WORD OF ADVICE IS PLAY IT. GIVE IT MORE TIME YOU'LL DEFINITELY LOVE IT. IT'S ALWAYS LIKE THAT WITH NEW TITLES. NOW LET'S WAIT FOR FIFA17 AND HOPE IT'S BETTER CAUSE EA KEEP IMPROVING EVERY YEAR. WELLDONE!!!!!

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