Despite several new game modes, the introduction of the women’s national team and a fresher physics engine, FIFA fails to deliver the ‘golazo’ it had the potential of scoring.  

Reviewed on a Playstation 4

By Jeff Weisinger

With the rise of the Pro Evolution Soccer series, most notably PES 2016, EA Sports newest chapter of its internationally renowned FIFA series had the opportunity to claim and control the top spot in soccer gaming once and for all. It creates an awesome attack and even draws the penalty in the box, however FIFA’s shot at the greatness it claims it is hits the crossbar worse than Chris Wondolowski’s miss against Belgium in last year’s World Cup.

The build-up to the shot, however, is where FIFA 16 shines.

Visually, FIFA 16 is gorgeous — per standard by this generation’s EA Sports games. The players look like their real-life counterparts — maybe just a bit bigger in size — they move a lot more realistically around the pitch and the game itself flows a lot more realistically, with the battle in the midfield emphasized more than ever before.

The crowd is a lot more detailed, louder with numerous new, clearer and recognizable chants. They react as a crowd would when you score or allow a goal, and the stadiums that house these crowds are just stunning from the Eithad to St. James Park and throughout. Seattle’s CenturyLink Field even made the cut in this year’s version and looks just like CenturyLink looks in Madden, let alone in a real-life MLS match.

However, with the rise of the MLS, it’s surprising that FIFA, or the MLS, didn’t make a push to add some of the other MLS soccer-specific stadiums like Toronto’s BMO Field, Red Bull Arena in New Jersey, San Jose’s new Avaya Stadium or even StubHub Field in Los Angeles.

Sorry NYCFC fans, as awesomely weird as it would’ve been to have Yankee Stadium in FIFA 16, “The House That Jeter Built” isn’t anywhere close to owned by FIFA or even MLS. It is safe to say that EA Sports missed the ball with the MLS and can only hope that FIFA 17 starts to include the MLS in the same regard as they do the English Premiership, Serie A, Bundesliga and La Liga.

But, they did make sure to include the vanishing spray. Details everyone, details.

Audibly, the crowd noise and even this year’s soundtrack are the best parts. The commentary, despite being a bit fuller, has come to the point where it needs an overhaul – or more commentators.

Martin Tyler and Alan Smith handle majority of the English commentating, although there are options for Arabic, Brazilian Portuguese, French, German, Italian, Latin American Spanish, Japanese, Polish, Dutch and Russian.

Once again Clyde Tyldesley and Andy Townsend handle the international matches on the English tracks and, once again, are a bit more exciting to listen to than Tyler and Smith.

With that being said, the Spanish commentary actually makes the game sound even more exciting.

The commentary, like most other sports games, gets repetitive after a while and simply becomes background noise. But it does hit the nail on storytelling in career and FIFA Ultimate Team modes. Both Tyler and Smith do a good job of filling the player in with what’s going on with their team, whether it’s what happened in the last match, how the team has performed throughout the season and even new player or manager debuts. They talk about the importance of pre-season tournaments and are aware about the difference between a men’s and women’s game.

Both Tyler and Smith also hit the nail in their commentary in the women’s games and treat the women’s games as they do the other men’s matches — an awesome sight to see given how much importance there was on their inclusion into the FIFA franchise.

Within the “90 minutes” on the virtual pitch the game feels a lot more like a real soccer game. Sure, you can blow out the opponent like Germany did Brazil in 2014, however your teammates’ AI and the opponent are much improved this time around, making the seven-goal blowouts seem like a thing of the past.

Your attacking forwards will look to space out and make runs while the opposing defensive backline and defensive midfield look to cut passing lanes and even intercept passes. The battle in the midfield is much, much more challenging than in FIFA 15 and previous games and the team instructions that you can give your players with the D-Pad are much more important than ever before. While you can be fully aggressive, the opposing team could create counter after counter, getting past your backline and creating one-on-one situations with your goalkeeper.

The women’s game is much slower compared to the men’s games, however it’s more technical and precise – and no, you can’t play a men’s vs. women’s game.

Despite there not being enough for the women’s side to do, their slight inclusion into the FIFA series is a solid start to something that EA Sports can grow going forward in the franchise.

FIFA Ultimate Team returns and is as strong as ever, however the newest mode this year is FUT Draft which is almost an exact replica to Madden’s Draft Champions. You draft your side based on positions, like Draft Champions and play I a short tournament, winning prizes for your FUT. The only difference is that FUT Draft costs virtual currency. The first go-around is free, however after it’ll cost you 15,000 coins, or 300 “FIFA points,” the latter being bought for real money.1screenshot5

FIFA 16 is, once again, another solid title and should silence the critics that chose PES 2016 over FIFA. However the game itself isn’t perfect. The game looks great and feels great, is a bit more challenging compared to FIFA 15 and really makes you think strategy while you play. Despite adding 900 new chants (none of which from NYCFC), the lack of more MLS soccer-specific stadiums is kind of disappointing and the lack of more new, more exciting commentary takes away from the broadcasting experience. It could be time for a new announcing duo.

The inclusion of the women’s national teams is a great, great step forward for the franchise and makes it interesting to see what FIFA does with the women’s side in the coming years – more importantly, will they add the women’s pro leagues in FIFA 17 and beyond?

As usual, this year’s FIFA is a must buy and, once again, FIFA shows that they own the soccer gaming throne.

Score: 8.2/10

Photo by inforumatik

Featured Columnist for FanSided and Beat-Writer for New York City FC. My #LifeAfterQB is incredibly #blessed.