FIFA 16 enters the fray this year with one of the most diverse rosters in video game sports. From your favourite Premier League pro’s to a dozen Women’s National Teams to hallowed football legends and more, everybody is prepared to take to the pitch, so get ready to take control with EA Sports’ latest take on “The Beautiful Game”.
FIFA 16 is developed by EA Canada and published by EA Sports
New to the game?
I grew up on EA Sports titles, but I’ll be the first to admit that when I was a kid, football (soccer) was not at the top of the list of my favourite sports, so I’m a bit more at home in franchises like Madden or NHL. That’s why I was very happy with FIFA 16‘s built in “Trainer” mode. Firstly, an optional graphic overlay during actual gameplay can be engaged to show button prompts and even suggested play options – perfect for a casual player like me who doesn’t have the control scheme burned into memory. Miniature training drills prior to each match also provide key skill development, but are broken up in a pleasant way so that you don’t feel as though you have to spends hours in a full-on training session before diving into a proper game mode. Of course if a crash course is what you are actually after, the skill games can all be accessed directly through the training menu as well.
Time for the women to take the field
One of the most progressive and exciting new features in FIFA 16 in my opinion is the first-time inclusion of female players in the game. Twelve Women’s National Teams are ready to compete, and these aren’t simply hasty generic modifications on the male player models either. Likenesses were captured in the same manner as other league pro’s and legends, and each team is imbued with stats reflective of the high level these athletes compete at. They aren’t simply delegated as a curiosity for exhibition matches either, as new franchises often can be the first time they are introduced into an established sports game series. The women’s teams can compete in Match Day, Offline Tournaments, Online Seasons, and Online Friendly Matches.
Career Mode sees a few new innovations in FIFA 16 as well. Firstly, this year sports the introduction of Pre-Season Tournaments. Each year your club will be invited to three of a possible nine tournaments played across four continents. Just like as in the real world, this is a great opportunity for you to test out your team, work out some kinks, and develop your best strategy moving forward toward the regular season. And the best part? The prize cash from winning these pre-season tilts goes directly into your budget, giving you more to work with in your championship quest.
Player training has also been introduced to FIFA 16 Career Mode, and each week, up to five players can be selected to participate in a series of attribute-boosting drills. Training is important not only for improving the quality of your squad’s overall play, but for adding value to your club as well. Sure, focusing on improving your core players will ensure you always have a strong starting roster, but developing the younger, more inexperienced members on your payroll will add significant value to them, and subsequently to your club as a whole. Having all that extra cash to deal with is definitely every manager’s dream.
I absolutely enjoyed my time in career mode, although one thing that I was never really comfortable doing was dealing with was player transactions. Perhaps it boils down to a lack of intimate familiarity with the economics of football, or the players themselves, but I was always hesitant to buy or sell. Sure, I could assume that the game was giving a generally fair assessment, but my experience with other sports management game modes tells me that’s not always true, and so I was always afraid I might be dealing my star player for a song, or over-paying for another club’s under-achiever, and for that reason I was always just a little hesitant to pull the trigger. As a player without a broad knowledge of the pro football economy, I would have really enjoyed a difficulty setting with just a bit more AI input from my advisors as to which deals I should be more inclined to make.
FIFA Ultimate Team
FIFA Ultimate Team (FUT) is back will an all-new mode as well – FUT Draft. Here you will get to make roster decisions based on randomized card draws and ultimately build your own squad of players, then take them on a series of up to four matches with increasingly enticing rewards for winning. This is a great feature on multiple fronts. First, it give you the opportunity to play with some great players that might not be otherwise-easily obtained in FUT mode, since any player (even superstar legends, but on Xbox One only) can appear in the draft. Second, winning will net you valuable FUT rewards, including coins, packs, and more.
The big downside to FUT Drafts, however, is that they are not free. Sure, you may pay your way in with in-game currency that you’ve accrued, or with token consumables found in packs, but outside of that, the only option is through microtransactions. Currency and tokens are definitely a limited resource within the FUT economy though, so either way you look at it, you’re spending something for the privilege of drafting, which is a shame when similar draft modes across other 2016 EA Sports titles do not require an entry fee. That said, the value of the rewards you can in in terms of the FUT economy may be greater to compensate.
A better, more realistic experience
As with any annualized EA Sports title, quite a few innovations and tweaks have been added in the hopes of making the experience ever-more realistic. Notable inclusions this year include a ramped-up control experience in the midfield, featuring “Passing with Purpose”, a revised control scheme that allows for sharp, precision passing. Balancing this out is a bolstered midfield AI that will better anticipate passes on defense, or conversely seek out space for greater opportunities on offense. Further changes to specs such as agility, spacial awareness and goaltender AI are just a few more examples of ways FIFA 16 attempts to improve on authenticity.
Sights and sounds
FIFA 16 looks great of course, rendering a very aesthetically pleasing football experience on current generation hardware, and nine new stadiums certainly don’t hurt when building a deep and immersive visual experience. I also really enjoy the in-game commentary, being a veteran of many sports games I know how tough it can be to grow tired of a repetitive or uninspired audio track, but I consistently enjoy Martin Tyler as the English-speaking voice of FIFA 16, which significantly adds to my appreciation of the game on the whole.
FIFA 16 is a solid entry among this year’s annualized offerings from EA Sports. Being more a veteran of some of those other series’ myself, I thought the FIFA Trainer was an awesome tool for acclimatizing myself to the action on the field (although I could have used a bit more know-how from behind the manager’s desk). Career mode is comprehensive and FUT has a lot of extended play value as well, especially for the Ultimate Team fanatics among us – I just wish that the intriguing new FUT Draft mode wasn’t tied to an entry fee. Most of all, with the progressive inclusion of the Women’s National Teams, FIFA 16 is definitely an entry in the franchise worthy of checking out.
+ Inclusion of Women’s National Teams
+ FIFA Trainer
+ New stadiums, solid commentary
– Entry fee to FUT Drafts
Lasting Appeal/Replayability: 4/5
Overall Rating 4.2/5 (84%)