PC, PS4, PS3, Xbox One & Xbox 360
BEFORE I begin this review, I feel it necessary to confess to being a hardcore FIFA fanboy. EA Sports’ football simulation is and will always be a permanent fixture in my gaming collection. It is the only video game I will buy without fail each and every year, and the only game I purchase almost immediately after its release. However, this years installation of the longest running video game franchise of the beautiful game, whilst mostly enjoyable on current gen consoles, leaves PS3 and Xbox 360 users feeling significantly short-changed.
Gaming on a student budget is never easy, and hence I, like many others, have not been able to afford to shell out for one of a sexy new console. Unfortunately, EA have neglected old-generation gamers to the degree that this year’s installment is almost unchanged from last year’s game, making the £45 price tag seem ludicrously bad value for money.
Aside from the updated teams, leagues and transfers, FIFA 16 on PS3 and Xbox One is virtually the same as FIFA 15. The shiny Premier League and Bundesliga graphics, variable weather conditions and dynamic new crowd animations which last year gave the PS4 and Xbox One versions of the game a level of realism, are still absent on this years installment, as are almost all of the new features touted as the game’s main selling points.
The Career mode, which gives users the ability to manage their chosen team to glory, is also unchanged. Whilst PS4 and Xbox One users are able to benefit from new pre-season tournaments, two year loan deals and training sessions to boost your chosen players stats, PS3 and Xbox 360 users are left with what is essentially FIFA 15’s career mode with a makeover and updated rosters. Annoying niggles, such as the fact that there are far too many top transfers (Neymar, Lewandowski, Benzema and David Silva all moving in a single transfer window!?), also tamper with the realism of the game and make playing as smaller clubs all the more frustrating.
Gameplay wise, the game also feels eerily familiar to FIFA 15. The jump in difficulty between semi-pro and professional levels remains gigantic, meaning that playing as a mid-table side is either impossibly difficult or stupidly easy. The match-day experience is also still very one dimensional; the overreliance on passing over crossing and dribbling means that the easiest way to win as a team like Stoke is still to put on your best impression of Barcelona. If anything, the game is also slower than previous incarnations, diluting the influence of rapid wingers such as Raheem Sterling and Theo Walcott to the point where you may as well be playing in a Sunday League mudbath. Goalkeepers are much improved, but consequently crossing the ball in the box very rarely leads to goalscoring opportunity, further increasing the reliance on slow build up and passing movements.
The main issue with the game, both on old and current gen consoles, however, is that purchasing the game is only the beginning of what a player is expected to pay for the full FIFA experience. Ultimate Team, which has long been a cash cow to milk more money out of the game, is even more expensive than in previous years. Users can now be expected to pay around £2.50 to enter into the new Draft Mode, which enables users to create a superstar team for use online without having to shell out on Ultimate Team packs. It’s a nice idea in principle, but one that is in reality nothing more than another hidden in-game purchase advertised as a great new feature to con gamers into buying the latest game in the series.
Despite these gripes, however, FIFA 16 is still the most comprehensive and realistic footballing simulation on the marketplace. The sheer volume of stadia, clubs, game modes, and the addition of women’s teams, means that the game has enough longevity to satisfy even hardcore football geeks such as myself. The graphics and player likenesses are still currently streaks ahead of the game’s main rival Pro Evolution Soccer, and the realism that comes with having 50 real world stadiums, 30 leagues and more than 650 playable teams is unrivalled.
On the current generation of consoles, FIFA 16 is a fanboy’s wet dream, honed and refined into one of the best football games ever made. It’s just a shame that EA didn’t bother to invest the time or the effort for those unable to afford a brand spanking new console.