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Ea Sports churn out FIFA titles quicker than Sepp Blatter can dodge a footballing Scandal but every now and then things will eventually catch up with you and leave you with a red face. Has EA Sports managed to keep the FIFA footballing series ahead of its competitors like Pro Evolution Soccer or is it heading into trouble?

I’ve played FIFA games since I was a child in fact every console I’ve owned has had the latest FIFA title to go along side it, from the days of indoor soccer on FIFA 97 to the chiseled looks of going 3D for the very first time. It’s a series I’ve grown up with and in many ways been blinkered to what issues it had. Im sure many of us have spent hours on FIFA loved it then bought the newer version and looked back to the previous years iteration and wondered how did you live with it!

Unfortunately this year FIFA has surprised me by making me look at FIFA 15 and saying to myself that wasn’t as bad as I thought. FIFA 16 brings with it a host of new features and updates aimed at streamlining the gameplay and making it feel that bit more realistic. Improved AI is the big sell from defending to attacking and the introduction of one touch dribbling should add to players variety in game. EA Sports have also built upon popular cash cow mode Ultimate Team with the introduction of Football Ultimate Team Draft.

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So it all seems to be heading the right direction and for the most part it is with goalkeepers becoming more agile and not quite as error prone as previous years unless you play pro Clubs of course. Much like all FIFA’s that have come before it your first few games will be a bit uncomfortable and may need you to switch out some old habits. One of FIFA’s biggest gripes was that players were finding ways to score and doing nothing but this, running down the wing, cutting back and scoring in empty nets, or in previous years finesse shots from outside the box having a 90%+ success rate. This FIFA is no different and for myself the use of LB ( L1 on PS4) meant that I had to change my style of play entirely I had relied on that button too much and this was EA Sports way of enforcing change on my playstyle. Now whether I like this or not I could tweak the settings to get things back to the way they were but hang on surely we want to be progressive and adapt to new FIFA’s in order to maximise our experience?

Now adapt I did in the first 10 hours of playing and it was a bit painful I was loosing games I would have won easily in the past and as I was playing I found there’s been a huge array of changes to gameplay which impacted not only my enjoyment of the game but it was significant amounts of change that made me want to find a one route to goal approach sacrificing gameplay variety for a one fits all approach.  So the changes on the pitch come in many disguises and Im sure are aimed at trying to create balance, in previous FIFA installments Pace was abused and for defenders it was too difficult to defend against. In FIFA 16 this is still the case but in some instances its swung too far the other way, slow players are able to catchup with your Messi’s, Ronaldo’s and Robben’s of this world and that just isn’t realistic. Its a shame as it prevents me from really exploring the skill moves on offer because even if you pull one out the bag there’s every chance you aint going to be able to sprint away.

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Passing in FIFA 16 is well to put it simply completely unreliable, EA have introduced a mechanic that responds to how long, you press the button to how powerful your pass is and have also introduced the threaded pass using R1 and X, its a nice idea however the result is terrible. Passes are consistently misplaced, switching to auto, manual and semi assisted didn’t offer any concrete solution and what is more frustrating is that the AI still cant interpret what the pass should be. it begs to wonder why they even introduced the FIFA tutor overlay feature. The amount of crazy passes into touch or soft passes when the power has been held is frustrating and the result was that I found using the trough ball button the most efficient, it may not play to feet but at the very least I know where that pass is going.

So for a potential one match game mode the entry fee is too steep and needs to be addressed.

Shooting has also seen some tweaks focusing the player more on learning the advanced techniques as simply pressing circle will no longer guarantee an accurate or powerful shot. The shooting is still no where near as fulfilling as it is on Pro Evolution soccer and leads again to more player frustration than enjoyment. In yester years the finesse shot was overpowered and almost always guaranteed a goal. This was addressed in FIFA 13, 14 and 15 but for whatever reason EA have again buffed the finesse shot so again we are seeing more players utilise this over powered method.

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Game Modes are as they were for FIFA 15 but with the new introduction of FIFA Ultimate team Draft, a new game mode aimed at giving players access to the best players in Ultimate team and picking from a Draft pick for each position. Its a great mode and removes the frustration of never getting those players in the main Ultimate Team mode. However this mode has an entry fee and it comes in the form of either 15,000 coins or 300 FIFA points. The rewards are significant if you can get a win in your first game and should see you being paid back almost all your 15,000 coins. However where this mode is let down is the variability in the draft, sometimes you can get a great pick and others you’ll be left with a choice of players that end of leaving you with a terrible team chemistry.  Now FIFA Ultimate team draft is brutal and unrelenting, its a straight forward knockout system, you have 4 games in total you must win each match to progress to the next failure to win will knock you out and your time in the draft mode is ended. So you may buy in for 300 FIFA points ( thats real money) get beat and that you done. So for a potential one match game mode the entry fee is too steep and needs to be addressed.

The server side to FIFA 16 Ultimate team is also distressing, having played this game on both PS4 and Xbox One I have on several occasions had games end due to EA server issues, one such time was getting to 3 game wins in online draft then during the fourth game being 1-0 up I was kicked from the game and had a loss counted against me. I can accept server errors will happen but when players are paying real money this should not be happening. This issue is not contained to just the online modes in Ultimate team, Single player leagues, tournaments and single player draft all suffer the same issue. Servers have always been an issue in FIFA however FIFA 16 takes them to such an unreliable state that I have become completely untrustworthy of the mode as it has no respect for my time.

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Again Legends remain exclusive to the Xbox One version of the game and include a range of new players to win or play with using Ultimate team draft.

EA have also made tweaks to career mode making the experience much more immersive and detailed, better transfer capabilities plus player training all add to further realism for those that love the game mode. In addition the inclusion of pre season tournaments are a nice touch to reflect the money making exploits of clubs in the real world. Players are offered choices of a series of pre season tournaments with each one offering a bump to your transfer kitty if you win it.

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Women finally grace the pitch in FIFA 16 and is a change EA should be applauded for and theres alot of detail that has went into the game mode, players have female physiques which mean they move and respond just like the women’s game, player animations have been designed just for this mode and the selection of teams caters for the international mode on offer. Although its only international teams the international tournament offers a mode to get involved in and several trophies on the Playstation to work towards, the mode also sees a raft of new commentary to bring it to life. Hopefully next year EA will build on this and look to introduce club football or take inclusion even further and offer women players within FIFA Ultimate team.

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Overall FIFA 16 is a solid build on last seasons iteration but is blighted by on pitch balancing issues around passing and shooting, EA servers give players a kick in the nads at unexpected moments all too frequently and the cost of entry for an unbalanced matchmaking in FIFA Ultimate team draft overshadow some of the great improvements and additions brought to the title. The inclusion of women’s football is a great sign of showcasing that gender inequality in games is shifting and EA should be applauded for this. For me this game needs a lot of tweaking and since launch not enough has been done to address some of its obvious issues. Again FIFA is a visual stunner despite not having a redesign of the match engine with sites and sounds all delivering a truly immersive and realistic footballing experience. FIFA 16 still keeps the crown despite its obvious flaws.

FIFA 16
8.5
Gameplay
6
Narrative
9
Graphics
9.5
Sound
10
Value
Our Score 8.6
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