On Tuesday, EA Sports released the demo for FIFA 16. However, based on what I’ve seen so far in the demos for FIFA 16 and PES 2016, EA will have to work very hard to keep its footy crown as PES 2016 has made a big step up, while FIFA 16 has plateaued compared to previous versions.
Game setup and presentation
In the FIFA 16 demo, you get to choose from Chelsea FC, Manchester City, Inter and a few others. The women’s teams included in the demo are USA and Germany.
EA Sports wastes no time getting you into a game. After the demo finished loading, I was immediately thrown into playing an El Clasico match between Barcelona and Real Madrid.
If you’ve played one FIFA game, you’ve played them all, so there were very few tweaks that I needed to make to set up the game. After playing the first game, I immediately set up a second game with the women’s team (more on that in a moment) and saw a few of the options to choose from, including kits, stadiums and time of day. I was hoping to have the option to adjust the weather condition as this year’s game is supposed to include dynamic weather but that option wasn’t available. However, the referee’s vanishing spray is available. Also, the offside line has returned.
As always with the game’s opening, Martin Tyler and Alan Smith provide the commentary and it was nice to hear the duo get a little more in depth with some of the players, but this has been one of EA Sport’s cornerstones, so improving the commentary was unsurprising. What I am concerned about is once the full game becomes available, how long will gamers play before we start hearing the same phrases over and over?
To be brutally honest, the graphics haven’t really changed radically from last year’s game. In a sense, it’s not a bad thing either as last year’s game was pretty good graphically speaking. If anything, what is noticeable is that the player models are a little better although some of the faces on the women’s team look to be a bit ‘mashed in’. One thing I did notice is that Lionel Messi’s new tattoo is included. So, does this mean we can start seeing a better representation for other players’ ink as well?
The stadiums, as always, look great and it seems that EA Sports has got the crowd shots appearing more realistic as opposed to the previous robotic movements. Some of the lighting is a better (not every stadium has the same lighting that they did in the last few versions).
Also remember last year when EA Sports made such a big deal about its “Emotion Engine”? FIFA 16 is a lot more emotive this time around. Expect to see more frustration from missed shots, botched tackles and bad calls. There is also more pushing and shoving from opposing players and occasionally slapped away hands.
One big improvement that I noticed is the slide-tackle animations. EA Sports stated that they were trying to improve them so we wouldn’t see so many canned animations. They were correct but the collision detection for the demo is a mess.
As stated earlier, FIFA 16 hasn’t changed much control wise and it’s very evident here. The only difference now is the no touch dribbling button. It’s easy to try but may take time to master. And as with any player, your results will vary. Using it with Cristiano Ronaldo is not the same as Falcao or Clint Dempsey, and the AI is not afraid to punish you for making that mistake. Otherwise, the controls for the game are the same as always and veteran gamers should feel at home with it.
Gameplay and AI
This is where the FIFA 16 demo gets dicey. EA Sports always promise to improve the AI, and yet it still feels like little has changed. I played with 4 different teams in the demo and, to be hones, with the exception of Real Madrid, I don’t think I really changed my strategy as much. It was just pass, pass, pass and, when open, shoot. As I stated in my review of the PES 2016 demo, I felt that PES 2016 has a certain flow to the game. For example, the AI knew when to double team players. I still didn’t get that with FIFA 16. Many times, players stuck to their zones only double teaming if I pushed a button for them to do so and this has been happening since FIFA 14. This was prevalent even in the women’s games as well.
What really frustrated me is the number of times when there was a loose ball, the AI would react poorly to get to it especially if it was in the box waiting for someone to score. This also was the worst part of the demo (which I hope they fix before releasing) in that there were too many times when defenders reacted poorly to balls being played in the box. Instead of sensible headers to clear the ball, I saw defenders trying to bring the ball in and pass. Instead of goalkeepers grabbing the ball, they tried to punch it out.
In one game, I saw a goalkeeper try to punch a ball to clear it when it should have been an easy catch, only to have that ball headed right into the goal. Yes, there are times when poor decisions are made in the real game, but these type of blatant faux pas were frequent in the FIFA 16 demo. Furthermore, with the collision detection, I saw too many players trip over each other and clumsily playing balls in the air. I am really hoping that EA Sports fine tunes that AI again before shipping this game in less than two weeks.
The inclusion of the women’s teams
It’s wonderful that EA Sports decided that women’s teams should be featured in FIFA 16. For some critics, it’s a sign that EA Sports is trying to be more inclusive, but what’s not so nice is that not all of the women’s teams will be included in the final release. What can you do with 12 teams? The game includes men’s teams from all corners of the world, but only 12 teams are included to play in a modded form of the Women’s World Cup. As far as the gameplay, however, much of what I said earlier also holds true, so your miles may vary as to how much you’ll enjoy using the women’s teams if you do so at all.
In conclusion, FIFA 16’s demo leaves a lot to be desired. In many ways, it’s the same game that fans year after year will flock to but underneath the gloss of a game that has many of the licenses to teams and player likenesses, there are still some glaring issues with the AI that still haven’t been addressed in years. Unless EA Sports really polishes the AI before release, I feel that it’s going to take a few steps back and PES 2016 will really shine.
FIFA 16 will be released on September 22 in the US and September 24 in Europe. For those that have EA Access, they will be able to get the game a few days earlier.
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