The Fifa football series has always delighted gamers with its slew of incremental upgrades in the yearly releases. However, this year's Fifa 16 feels like a step back to Fifa 12, in which tactics, and not brawn, are the key to winning a match.
For instance, you can no longer rely on speedy players to outrun the opposition and score. Your speedy players would be either dispossessed or tackled before they can even make a turn.
Trying to get past the midfield is also tougher, with opposing players able to make accurate tackles and interceptions. It takes much longer to string passes together, find pockets of space to exploit, and deliver killer through passes for a player to score. That is, if he manages to beat the goalkeeper.
The player's shooting ability, his speed and the way the ball bobbles before he strikes it all play a part in determining whether the ball ends up at the back of the net.
Yet the opposition can often cut through your defence like a hot knife through butter, with a simple through pass, or avoid your tackles as if your defenders were not there.
In short, Fifa 16 has become more like Pro Evolution Football - more tactical and requiring more thought. And it probably requires more practice and training, too. So you might have to swallow your ego and dial back on the difficulty level.
That said, Fifa 16 remains as gorgeous as before, with all the players' faces and the teams' jerseys faithfully reproduced down to the finest detail, such as hairstyles and facial hair.
The soundtrack is lively and adds plenty of atmosphere and life to the gameplay. The interface is as intuitive as before. When the action starts on the pitch, it is like watching a live match on TV. While the commentary becomes repetitive quickly, at least there is no lag in the comments and pitch action.
And with its Fifa licensing, all the teams and players are really what they are in real life. Plus, the teams have updated rosters.
The much-hyped new Women's National Teams mode lets you choose from 12 teams and compete in offline tournaments or online friendly matches. However, the women players seem to be much slower and much more unpredictable than their male counterparts. Shots and passes get easily wayward. Not a very favourable introduction to women's football.
I like the new Fifa Ultimate Team Draft mode. It lets you pick a player out of a random five for each position. You can assemble your own squad with superstars, such as Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, and challenge different opposition teams.
My favourite mode, Career, where you create your avatar and play him from rookie to superstar, now includes pre-season games and weekly training. A great way to improve at a faster rate and become a legend.
The attention to details is excellent in Fifa 16. When my avatar scored a hat-trick, there is a clip showing him getting the match ball from the referee after the match.
PRICE: $69.90 (PC), $79.90 (PS3, PS4, Xbox 360; Xbox One, version tested)
GENRE: Football simulation
This article was first published on October 15, 2015.
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