Another year, another FIFA, another season for fans around the world to enjoy one of the biggest pastimes in the world: soccer. Electronic Arts takes players for another spin across the pitch as the 2016 season starts with new features and improvements. But in a year where it’s biggest competitor has made a great comeback, does this fresh layer of paint on the franchise hold its strength?Visually the FIFA franchise made a great leap forward with last year’s installment, but of course at one point the differences do become more subtle with each iteration, albeit the details can make quite the world of difference. For games in the sports genre there are two goals for presentation; looking good up-close and looking good afar, though previous installments have usually managed to cover both fronts effectively, and FIFA 16 is no exception, though for non-frequent players the transition from 15 tot 16 can go without notice when it comes to visuals.That’s not to say that FIFA 16 hasn’t improved upon its predecessor, but its advantages are a lot more subtle, though not completely dismissible. Lighting has been significantly improved and model details have been refined very well overall, which is most apparent during replays where you’ll get a more up close and personal view of these details, which range from improved player models to the detail of the stadium and pitch itself. The newly added female players share the same visual fidelity as their male counterparts, with the same level of touch to the animations as well, albeit some instances of repeated animations throughout the game can make for some slightly jarring results at certain moments. Presented at 1080p both the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One versions of the game are played at a variation of 60 and 30 frames per second, depending on the section of gameplay being performed. General gameplay throughout matches is presented at 60fps, whilst intros, secondary acts such as penalties, goals kicks and such are presented at 30, though the framerate does remain locked and smooth in both instances and the change isn’t as jarring as one would think due to the fact that only certain sections share this change in technique, which isn’t new to the franchise either.The past few years FIFA has been on the top of its game in the industry, reclaiming its throne as the lead-selling soccer game on the market, and whilst its commercial appeal remains for the masses, the truth behind the curtain is a little bit more divided than usual. Despite some seemingly big additions such as female players and no-touch dribbling, the game really does feel more safe than some of the previous installments, which leads to some disappointing introductions when first returning to the game. The fact is, FIFA 16 is a good and sound game when it comes to gameplay, offering many (if not all) of the previous features, along with some welcome additions, but at its core it feels more like a big title update for FIFA 15 than it does a standalone title.Similarities aside, the game does feature some nice additions to its arsenal, beginning with the changes made to career mode. Mirroring the training/traveling of actual teams during the summer months, pre-season tournaments have been added, which make for some great opportunities to try out new tactics, test new squads and more before the real game starts as the season officially begins, which grants you some extra spending money for your transfer budget as well, should you perform well during these tournaments.
The game spends a lot of time getting right and improving upon its predecessor, and it does so admirably with some nice features, with the noted additions to the career, more advanced player training and an even more refined ‘Ultimate Team’ section, which has been the heart of the franchise for many players the past few years, and understandably so. The added Draft tool makes Ultimate Team a lot more accessible, which makes working with player relations a lot easier for inexperienced players, which speeds up the pace of the game and makes for a more enjoyable experience.
A big gripe I had with last year’s installment was the fact that the AI was problematic to say the least. EA has greatly improved upon the game in this aspect where the AI is much more effective and precise in strategizing and teamwork, where attack, defense and interception are all the more effective on their part, which makes for a much more challenging experience that feels a lot more rewarding when it comes to winning the game. Fast players