Game Review: 'FIFA 16'

A beautiful version of the beautiful game.

Longtime FIFA fans know that some years are better than others for the annual soccer simulator. With refinements across the board and the addition of women’s soccer, FIFA 16 is the best we’ve seen from EA Sports in recent memory. 

Don’t get us wrong, these are largely incremental upgrades, but you can see them in every aspect of the game. AI teammates make better off-the-ball runs and defend more aggressively. The flip side of that coin is that AI opponents will also defend you harder, jostling and attacking without mercy, and that means you really have to earn your breakaways, counterstrikes and goals. 

Luckily, FIFA 16 gives you more tools than ever to combat the vicious AI. The excellent control system that FIFA has honed over the past decade returns intact, from simple passing to modified chips shots, but this year has a new emphasis on moving without the ball. In fact, fine-tuned, off-the-ball controls are now mapped to left bumper so you can intentionally make fakes or take runs sans-ball. It’s an effective new addition that will make you a more formidable player. It’s also fun to fake friends right out of their cleats when you pull it off with players like Messi and Ronaldo who really sell the fake and can move without the ball with lightning speed. 

Speaking of Messi and Ronaldo, FIFA 16’s graphics have improved so much that those two aren’t the only guys in the game who actually look like themselves. Even lesser known players from teams you might not see on TV have incredible similarities to their likenesses. We know because we actually googled some of these players to verify that fact. This is especially noticeable in all of the cinematics and cut-scenes that make a game of FIFA 16 look identical to watching a televised World Cup game. We highly recommend checking it out for yourself, and the easiest way to do that is by scoring a goal and sprinting over to the cameraman for a celebration. You won’t be disappointed. 

If you’re really intent on comparing in-game likenesses with their real life counterparts, you’ll be well served to do it with one of the new women’s national teams that were added to the game this year. Somewhat overdue but totally justified by the hype surrounding the Women’s World Cup this past summer, we couldn’t help but feel compelled to have a women-on-women matchup against friends. The ladies may fall short of the stats you’d find on even the four-star Premiership teams, but to their credit, they’re on more than level footing with any of the MLS teams that found their way into the game years ago. 

All of these changes, major and minor alike, come together to form one of the best iterations of FIFA we’ve seen. If you’re looking for the 90-minute grind of soccer, this year’s PES might be a better route for you to take. However, if you want the best and most exciting parts of soccer with all the flair and skill of the best players in the world, FIFA 16 is a necessity. 

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