I liken a new FIFA game to the start of a new football season. We've all been swept away with the build up, listened to the promises from the manager who is trying to convince us that this year will be different and I'll admit I even get a little excited just before my first game.
followed the same path as my team Millwall last season. We showed a bit of promise at the start then were exposed game after game before finally being relegated.
initially seemed to have fixed the small issues from FIFA 14
but once the rigorous testing of competitive online gaming got involved its warts became more noticeable. People found ways to exploit it, to turn the game into into a mass of frustration and as a result I quit earlier last year than I did any other football game for as long as I can remember.
But here we are again, facing another year of football, hoping that things will work out for the better and to be fair to EA, it's looking good.
The competition is harder this year, with the bar being raised to rugby standards. PES 15
was good, PES 16
seems to be even better. I've not had the chance to play the full game but the demo shot some pretty big bullets FIFA
Thankfully EA has made some really big steps in the right direction.
The biggest improvement sits within the player physics. More than ever the players feel completely independant from the ball. If a pass is too strong then they'll need an extra touch or two to control it, leaving you open to being dispossessed by a nearby defender.
Shifting weight is now something you have to take note of, too. Previously a player's balance was only really something you had to worry about when riding tackles, but here it'll affect everything you do from crossing to passing. You can no longer flick the ball directly to a teammate behind you when running towards your own goal. Instead you have to compose yourself, turn and pass or if there are no options, put it out of play.
The work EA has done on players completely changes how games play out. There's now a battle for midfield. You can't just tap 'A' a few times and find yourself outside of your opponent's area. Through balls have been nerfed completely as defenders react better to interceptions.
It's all about finding space. There will be times where there isn't an open player to pass to and only a bit of magic or a safe clearance will do. It just feels like a massive improvement and if you're lucky enough to play against someone who is trying to play the game like FIFA 15
, you'll rip them apart.
Not only do the players feel like they've been worked on, the ball physics have clearly been tweaked too. EA has made the ball feel less on rails over the past few years but FIFA 16
shows the biggest improvement in this area.
The ball now feels as though it's being played in the direction you're aiming rather than automatically making its way to a teammate who's roughly in the direction you're pointing. It's as though the assists have been turned down by default and the ball no longer magically finds its way to a receiver even though there's a defender in the way. Now, the opposition will either intercept or if there's too much pace on the ball it'll bounce off them and change the direction of the ball.
Some may think that the deflections are a step back into the pinball game of old but each deflection feels warranted. In previous years when FIFA
went down this path the problem was that the ball would just bounce between players before someone was lucky enough to end up with it. This isn't the case here.
Everything is a lot more logical. If you're taking a shot on the edge of the area and there are three players in front of you, of course there's a chance that it'll bounce off a leg. If a player can control it they will, but the emphasis on the speed the ball is travelling affects everything and although sometimes you'll get unlucky with a deflection, it doesn't feel as though the game is cheating you.
Shots are more manual, rather than following a path. This, coupled with the more focused build-up play, makes goals more memorable because they're not simply following FIFA
's blueprint to success.
When crossing I can now decide where I'm going to play the ball as I'm bombing it down the wing, and if I see a gap in the defence I feel confident about getting the ball to where I want it. But this does expose one of the biggest problems I have with FIFA 16
- player AI seems to be left behind a bit.
When I'm controlling my winger and planning a pinpoint cross I need my player in the box to react to the open space within it. They don't. If anything, they make a b-line for the six-yard box and refuse to attempt to get to your perfect ball in, which is frustrating as hell. There's no point in improving crossing if you don't see the benefit of good play.