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FIFA 22 Review - A Goal for the fans.



 

Developer: Electronic Arts

Publisher: Electronic Arts, EA Sports

Reviewed on: PlayStation 5

Also available on: PS4, Xbox One, Xbox Series S and X, Nintendo Switch, PC

Release: 1st October 2021

Rating: G

 

Now we all know that the general consensus around sports games is that they are the same year after year. Well for the first time in years FIFA 22 feels like a genuine improvement. Don't worry, I’m not here to tell you that FIFA 22 is a reinvention of the FIFA franchise, because to be honest, without reinventing the sport, I don't really see how that's possible. However, there are across the board improvements and as a whole the game really benefits from them.



One of the biggest surprises for me was the addition of a genuine storyline, upon booting up the game you find yourself dropped right into the middle of an entertaining and immersive story, I won't give any details for the purpose of remaining as spoiler free as possible. But what i will say is that this story is both interactive and packed full of cameos from both ex football stars such as David Beckham to Boxing superstar Anthony Joshua. Now i know what you're thinking right, ugh not more forced celeb cameos, well surprisingly these cameos don't feel forced and actually add to the immersion of what EA are trying to make you feel with their storyline. While FIFA have dabbled in these storylines before, this one just felt different.


Gameplay wise FIFA feels both familiar and a big step up from last year's version. FIFA’s new “HYPERMOTION” technology actually plays a big part in this, it gives players a very realistic feel, movements feel smooth and purposeful rather than the usual scrambled mess of animation files being mashed together. Things like tackles and aerial duels no longer feel clunky but feel rather physical and look just like the real thing. For me, FIFA22 has a slight Pro Evolution Soccer vibe to it with the movement of HYPERMOTION, I don't know, I just found myself a few times comparing the gameplay to Pro Evolution, something I've not done before.



One of the more noticeable changes however comes in the form of a deemphasis of pace, Pace has long been the holy grail in FIFA, especially in Ultimate team where opponents would stack their team with lower rated players with the highest possible pace rating and they would blow past your 90 rated defenders with ease as they simply couldn't keep up. Well this time round, the game seems to have been slowed down not a massive amount, but is a noticeable improvement. This takes that emphasis away from the paciest players and shifts it more towards ball movement and passing. In my opinion, this is a massive improvement to the overall enjoyability of the game.


I've been playing FIFA on an almost yearly basis for about 25 years now, and during these 25 years I've spent probably 80% of my time playing career mode and 20% of my time split between ultimate team and couch co-op. Career mode is one of the game modes that features some of the more meaningful improvements. For instance, rather than just taking over your favourite club as a manager, you now have the option to create a club from scratch and insert them into any league you wish. I did this first as I was very intrigued as to what it would look like. You are prompted to give your club a name, kit (both home & away), a stadium, a badge etc. Then you're given the choice of how good you want your randomly generated players to be, how much money you want to spend, and how strict you want the board to be. I did this, I created Gaming Australia FC and away I went. This version of my own club, based on the settings I chose, was almost a bit “cheat mode”, I had a 93 rated winger and a wonderkid in my academy who was 16 years old with an overall rating of 82. In hindsight, I could have probably dialled back on the team rating slider a little. Other than that, I only came across one issue with this mode that I have never come across in other modes, and that was it seems to struggle to automatically select your kit based on the colour of both yours and your opponents. This lead to me playing an almost impossible preseason game against a team wearing the exact same kit as me. Other than that the game mode brought all that regular career mode provided with the added immersion of being your own team with players you very quickly build a rapport with.


Check out this image below for what I mean in terms of the two teams having identical kits... The struggle in this match was real.



Other ways in which career mode is improved is in things such as player development, fitness, and sharpness while the on field action is probably where the biggest changes are. Things such as new animations, celebrations and the commentators having many more things they are able to say, things such as commenting on the manager being on a winning streak or a goal scorer's dry spell really give the commentary some life and further immerse you into the gameplay as if it were a broadcast. While all these things do definitely push FIFA 22’s career mode in the right direction, there's still a bit of room for improvement. There are still a few of the game's worst/ most annoying features that persist after years of fans' disapproval. Features such as transfers still being annoying and repetitive, the post match interviews and player interactions all being the same. To be honest, EA could do with completely overhauling the entire transfer system to be honest as it's very, very cumbersome.


The overall presentation of game day also feels much more like an actual television broadcast rather than a “game of FIFA” from the line up presentation to watching the fans walk in through the turnstiles and possibly my favourite thing in the entire game, the players stand in a line for their respective club songs and just like in an actual EPL game , each player accompanies a child onto the pitch to take part in the pregame antics, these kids are adorable and each has a very different personality in the few short moments we get to see them, this includes some of them being a little distracted when they all run off after the referees whistle to them standing and smiling at someone in the crowd etc. This is a very insignificant feature in terms of the overall game, but it's super cute and adds a bunch of personality to the game.



Let's get into the graphics, there's absolutely no doubt that FIFA 22 is graphically superior to FIFA 21, it looks truly next gen, from the lighting, the players, the movement, the stadiums, everything looks great. Players' faces for instance are some of the most realistic, true to life faces I've seen in a video game, at least most of the time. Then there's Lionel Messi and co. You'd think being the best player in the world would afford you the ability to look pretty damn close to real life in a game that manages it with so many others, however he doesn't. Take a look at the image below and while I can't quite put my finger on what it is, there's something just not right about his likeness. I know he is “the G.O.A.T” but making him look like an actual goat is a step too far.


Here is a comparison, see if you can tell which is the real Messi.... I'm joking, of course you can

One way in which EA can probably do better is the crowd, These animations are clunky to say the least, for example whilst playing against Barcelona in career mode, the Barca fans had flags and banners, the movement of these flags is about as smooth as the launch of Cyberpunk 2077 on PS4. They are glitchy, stutter and just look terrible. It's not the end of the world, but it is definitely something I think needs fixing.


One more thing that impressed me graphically however was the players hair. There has clearly been a lot of effort put into this and it really adds another dimension of realism to the character models. Each strand of hair seems to have a mind of its own, moving independently of each other making it look quite real, especially at speed. This is only true for the pre existing players in the game, for instance, if you create your own club with randomly generated players, these players won't have the same graphical fidelity.

Overall, FIFA 22 still has some room for improvement, but is definitely a huge step in the right direction. If you're a die hard FIFA player then I have no doubt you're already sold on getting it, however if you're on the fence due to the lack of changes in recent years, I’d recommend it. There is still a few things that could be done to make it a much more polished, well rounded game, but there are enough changes that I think any shouts of it being a copy and paste are unfair.



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