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Review

FIFA 16 Review

  • First Released Sep 22, 2015
    released
  • Reviewed Sep 22, 2015
  • PC
  • X360
  • XONE
  • PS4
  • PS3
Aaron Sampson on Google+
272 Comments

Unbeaten streak.

GameSpot may get a commission from retail offers.

Football!

With that note of excitement hanging in the air, allow me a moment of clarity. FIFA is a tough game to review. It's an aggregation of several years’ worth of features and modes, all of which are changed and updated to varying degrees with each iteration. Anyone who’s played FIFA, or PES, or any sports game will know, it’s impossible to really know how you feel about that game until you’ve played it for months; Loved it, hated it, loved it again, and then decided it’s, you know, alright for a game you’ve played for 300 hours.

With that in mind I intend to limit this review to a look at two crucial things that have changed in FIFA 16, which are: the addition of a new Draft mode within the extraordinarily successful FIFA Ultimate Team; and, well, everything.

We should probably start with ‘everything’, as there’s a lot to get through. What I mean by ‘everything’ is that the heart of the game, the way in which FIFA plays football, has for the first time in a few years made a jump big enough to feel like a distinct break rather than an iterative polish. Last year’s slants and foibles--pace, over-the-top through-balls, maddening defender behaviour--have been taken sternly in hand, to the extent that playing FIFA 16 feels like learning a new game. It’s hard, and the first few games are a mixture of frustration and promise.

The stated objective was to remove player speed as the pivotal factor in deciding games, to make the midfield meaningful, and to enable different styles of play, rather than FIFA 15’s dominating tactic of high balls out to the wing where fast man will get behind the defence. EA Sports' latest soccer sim wants players to compete on a level footing. And while, realistically, we’ll have to wait until the online population has stress-tested the new system for millions of hours and reported back before we’ll really know, this is how the changes currently feel.

FIFA 16's Ultimate Team now also comes with a compelling new Draft Mode
FIFA 16's Ultimate Team now also comes with a compelling new Draft Mode

Defending is easier. Or at least, defenders are now better equipped to win the ball and compete against attacking players. Slide tackles have regained some of the old potency; players really do slide again, meaning it’s possible to win the ball from unexpected distance. Well-timed toe-pokes, meanwhile, can satisfyingly break up play, while desperate moments give players more options to deliberately foul players just before they break into space (this is usually harshly punished, but so much fun). I’ve been caught by defenders when I thought I was out of range, I’ve won the ball with crunching block-tackles at fullback, and I’ve used the slide to channel runners by blocking off their path. This new, stronger, more flexible slide tackling is a success.

Other noticeable additions to defending include a tackle feint, for counter-baiting tricksy opponents during one-on-one battles. No longer does the protect-the-ball crab pose offer an impenetrable defence; it’s easier to slip around players in possession of the ball and then get a foot to it. Perhaps most significantly of all, defender AI has been fine-tuned to make more interceptions and to track runners with more doggedness.

These last points are the ones that really contribute to FIFA 16’s most obvious shift; the fact that the midfield is now a battlefield. Working the ball through the middle of the park feels attritional and muddy, full of physicality and friction. More than ever, it’s a game of inches and interceptions, with defenders urging themselves towards the ball wherever possible, pressing and lunging and reaching out feet. It can get scrappy, with miscontrols and turnovers spilling messily around for a few seconds at a time, but it feels like an organic sort of mess, a footballing mess.

Click on the thumbnails below to view in full screen
Click on the thumbnails below to view in full screen
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In response to all this there are offensive tools to make the midfield an even fight, if an asymmetrical one. No-touch dribbling adds another layer to the game’s skill system, enabling players to duck and feint over the ball, looking to send defenders the wrong way. This is pretty but so far, for me, not hugely effective; I rarely had enough space in-field to dance over the ball, and on the wings I went for reliable old step-overs. But more integral is the new precision passing system, which effectively introduces a hard, pinged pass that can be pulled off by holding R1 (RB). It’s clearly been designed as a foil to the stickier, interception-prone midfield, and it comes with an element of risk and skill. Lesser players are more likely to fumble these stinging passes, and judging angles, ability and distance adds a new dimension to the basics of FIFA’s play.

The result of all of this is that FIFA 16 is full of scrappy back and forth, the ability to play patient possession football, and a greater range of passing than ever. The dominance of pace in last year's game is over, although sometimes it does seem as though it has been offed through foul means, with through-balls, for instance, feeling conspicuously limited, unwilling to put players in the clear either up the lines or over the top of defences. But for the most part the new style of play--slower, grittier, but still skilled--seems like it’s been achieved through nurturing rather than nerfing.

And so that is everything, in terms of its gameplay pillars, which no doubt is the area on which I place the most importance when judging FIFA. But FIFA’s success during the last few years has been as much to do with the collecting and trading compulsions of Ultimate Team as it’s been about actual (pretend) football. So the arrival of Draft mode, a significant addition to Ultimate Team, is also worth a good look.

For the first time, FIFA 16 features women's international teams.
For the first time, FIFA 16 features women's international teams.

Draft mode sits aside from the main business of buying packs, building teams, and playing them against opposition online. It’s like a paid-entry one-off Ultimate Team tournament, in which players build a temporary team position by position, opening a pack for every slot and deciding which player inside best fits the side under construction. The finished team is then played against other Draft players, with bigger than usual coin rewards for a winning run (the maximum streak is four wins).

Putting aside the longstanding misgivings about how Ultimate Team commodifies the magic of football, and how it sort of encourages kids to gamble, it’s great. Draft takes the pleasure of building a team--piecing together strong chemistry, the thrill of opening packs--and gives it to you without the need to pull your main team apart. It costs 15,000 coins (or 300 microtransaction FIFA points) to enter, and of course Draft mode is, in the end, about making more money. But that’s OK if it’s something worth paying for, and Draft offers something more substantial than the chance to simply reveal a randomised selection of players. Building a new team is a complex puzzle that’s different with each Draft, and winning a few games delivers substantial rewards (my first four-game winning streak gave me a total return of around 60,000 coins, which is a fine start to the season).

FIFA needed a year like this. Without serious competition from Konami’s PES in the past few years (until now), and with Ultimate Team keeping players playing and paying all year round, there’s been no pressing motivation to ring the changes. Annual titles will always evolve gradually, but recent progress has felt glacial. FIFA 16 can be stubborn and stifling, but it feels gloriously new, and having to learn fresh strategies and nuances in a game series like this is an almost-forgotten pleasure.

Back To Top
The Good
Draft mode is a smart addition to FUT
New range of passing opens tactical doors
Beefy defending combats over-reliance on pace
Big gameplay changes feel fresh and exciting
The Bad
Through balls feel unfairly tamed
Refs can give soft penalties
9
Superb
About GameSpot's Reviews

About the Author

Nathan played FIFA 16 offline and online on PlayStation 4 and on Xbox One, where he got George Best in Draft mode and didn’t want to say goodbye.
272 Comments  RefreshSorted By 
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Wfxisml

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Edited By Wfxisml

Are you sure youre playing FIFA 16? A 9? Really? The worse FIFA ever. I felt disrepected after all the years im ddevoting to FIFA, EA suddenly delivered one of the worse instalment ever. Wasted my time and money on this game.

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TruSake

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9???

a 6 at best.

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sylvzz

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@TruSake: Exactly. One of the worst FIFA sequels of all time... to get a 9, EA should have improved A LOT more the franchise.

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f0rward

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Game reviews can't be taken serious on any website. A 9 LMFAO.

I could start typing everything that is wrong with this game or just plain lazy from EA, since some of these bugs/issues have been in there for many interations now, but I won't. There is just too much wrong with it.

Fifa is just a milking cow and a realistic grade for this years edition is 5 or 5.5.

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alanzare

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Ea sport should really think about the fifa in console version beacuse compare with pc fifa in ps4 it far away to perfect graphic

Graphic in ps4 its horrible need mire noise reduction and improve the lines its so disappointed by ea sport that did impoved the console version xbox one or ps4 both are shit and horrible

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BobDole

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@alanzare: wat

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yasendi

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Edited By yasendi

Hi there, I really hope the reviewer see this. The game got a 9 rating but now it is completely different after the 1.02 update. EA has lied by saying they did not change the gameplay and speed as the game now is very pacy and is reliant on dribbling mostly. The game feels so much different than initial launch and demo. It is unfair to continue have this rating. I would drop it to 6 at least. Plus Gamespot as a respectful gaming website should protect the gamers by teling how EA has made unethical acts. People will need to know what they have done.

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alanzare

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Ea sport should really think about the fifa in console version beacuse compare with pc fifa in ps4 it far away to perfect graphic

Graphic in ps4 its horrible need mire noise reduction and improve the lines its so disappointed by ea sport that did impoved the console version xbox one or ps4 both are shit and horrible

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bigruss51

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A 9? NO its not. At least not imo. I can't even begin to describe how f###ing absolutely horrible this game is. When I played the demo I genuinely enjoyed it and was looking forward to the final product only to be disappointed. How the hell can you mess up so bad. I won't bother going into details about why I'm disappointed. All I wanna say is that I'm not having fun playing fifa 16. Since release I have spent more time playing the demo than the released version. The way the demo played felt great, I even enjoyed playing with the womens teams. It somehow felt fresh. Final product I find nothing but frustration and disappointment.

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ronan32

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Every team plays the same..it doesn't matter if you're playing barcelona or burnley

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Ezioprez9709

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@ronan32: Burnley are world class.

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ronan32

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There is no draft in football.

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rob_devitt

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there is nothing related to a draft in football. Stupid addition. Pandering to the american market.

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Sean9334

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@rob_devitt: And Ultimate team is related to football is it? Its called a gamemode pal

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mattcha

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No offence to Nathan Ditum but he's a FIFA fanboy (see PlayStation Access youtube channel). My mates, 2 of whom are hardcore FIFA players have switched to PES this year because of the backward steps FIFA has made this gen and the giant leaps PES has made. PES this year, without question.

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JavanC

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not sure if it's just that I am bad or if anyone also experienced this..... if you play against CPU opponents on World Class or Legendary, they will just keep possession at the back for very long time, especially when they are leading. There is no way to take the ball back unless they made a bad touch (but that's rare). I tried to time my standing tackles but it seldom pulls off, and sliding tackle is basically useless because they can ALWAYS "guess" the direction of your tackle. In terms of attacking, basically we can very rarely use through balls because even if we wait for a clear chance, the through ball would go astray regardless of your teammate's run and the passing ability of your player. Also it is almost impossible to hit your opponents on counter attack because even if you have Hulk (in my team) a player with great speed and strength, your opponent will run faster than you and muscle the ball off from you. As mentioned through balls are also literally useless, we can only keep the ball at the back and try to play like a D-bag at first, and slowly pass the ball up field as your opponents press you (this in turn will be difficult if you are trailing, coz they won't press). I am not saying precision in passing gameplay is bad, but it seems to restrict every player to use a fix tactic in order to win a game. Has anyone have any similar thoughts? Anyway to "improve", or whatever the word should be?

p.s. I also got PES 2016 for PS4 and I gotta say it is more realistic, requires precision while keeping the excitement of fun and pacey football games.

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fursecu

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@JavanC: i agree with all you said. it was very frustrating in fifa 15, but now they really overdid it, i guess the solution is to alter their precision or speed pass or something..

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Van_Alfreyd

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@JavanC: In World Class and Legendary, the AI reads your every moves, has the referee in its pocket, keeps the ball effortlessly, is insensitive to pressing, can press relentlessly, isn't subject to any stamina loss, can't be outrun, can't be outskilled, magnetizes the ball. I lowered the precision of AI's passes, the accuracy of first touch controls and the marking a bit. So far I've never played against a team using its own strenghts (pacey player, player good with header, long shot player etc...), or any different tactic. It's just a long road of You Vs Barcelona clones. No long ball teams, no counter attacking teams, but only teams playing the possession game. It's been the case for me since FIFA 14 and it's starting to get old now.

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JavanC

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@Van_Alfreyd: yeah exactly. glad that no one thinks i am bitching because I sucked at this game!

like I said it seems that EA is restricting everyone to play possession football, there is no way for you to press your opponents and get the ball back immediately, you can just wait for it to misplace a pass, then pass the ball around and wait for them to open up...

but then Professional is just like a walk in the park, so it is quite disappointing. The game looks good, the career mode is fun too for me, but the supremacy of possession of AI teams is just killing the game.

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Van_Alfreyd

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@JavanC: I think the changes they brought to the game were meant for the online experience mostly. Which makes me think that FIFA has now became the Call Of Duty of sports sims with a slim offline content only there to prepare you for the online mode.

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Nassarco

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@JavanC: Yea the CPU sucks in this game, they don't take risk at all, once I was playing it and a winger near my corner crossed all the way back to the center back because i had two players on him!! that was fucked up.

the thing is weak teams don't take risk, strong teams are easier because they play forward and want to score, but found out that weak teams don't do that and just care about keeping possession and hence alot harder to beat.

which is kinda unrealistic when deportivo la coruna gives me the Barca treatment while barca them self's don't play that way in the game.

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JavanC

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@Nassarco: things have been a bit better for me, since I tried to change the CPU game play settings so that they will push higher and take some risks. Speed up the game a bit and make it more balanced. Still need to play possession football myself and really wait for the right time to hit.

My situation is a bit different, still tough against "weaker" teams ( I control Valencia), can beat most teams on the same level (e.g. ATM, Sevilla, Villareal). Never won a single game against Barca, Bayern, Real Madrid. I did really well defensively and managed to kept them out for most of the game, then in the dying minutes they just scored incredible long shots or free kicks and beat me...

One thing in particular is that the refereeing is quite ridiculous. Refs are sometimes very lenient to fouls against my players in the box and I rarely got penalties. On the other hand it is very easy to commit fouls on CPU...

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Nassarco

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@JavanC:

for me the main problem is with the teams that don't open up the play, I am also playing Valencia in career mode, and I find my self getting a draw with las palas, never been able to beat them because they never open up, while I won on barca 3-0 because they do open up attacking me.

In the end as with every edition it will take some time to get used to, the first 10 games I was not even able to score once on legend mode, now its a bit better.

the fouling thing I didn't suffer from because I rarely tackle and just try to block the way to the goal in the penalty area, if I try to pull them or wrestle the ball from them specially from the back am very likely to bring them down so I don't in the area.

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hotwog21

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it has to be unbalanced and backwards, how else are they going leave room for patch after patch after patch and drum into every little kids head out there that patches are here to improve games :) let me know when its finished :)

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ohjtbehaaave

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If all you care about is 'gameplay' than PES 16 is the no brainer purchase this year.

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uk_friday

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what a disappointment fifa 16 was....the most unbalanced football game ever....now the cpu is super human players with pace of 50 can out sprint players with 90, rubbish teams play like 1970 brazil and super human interceptions none stop regardless of who you play against. The tweeks have ruined the game, do these idiots not test the game? Fifa i preferred as the all round package but now it dosnt have that its just shite instead....Maybe i should switch back to PES

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WillyWynn

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Edited By WillyWynn

My honest opinion is this. PES finally after many years of average pes games come back and this one is actually quiet good, i dont even remember when it was the last time i played a pes game better then a fifa game. It was like the time from pes to pes 6 when i dont even remember when i last played a good fifa game. Both games are good but to honest i think fifa still better because Fifa have the advantage from have a licence game and more content then pes. Don't get me wrong both games are really good this year. Like i said fifa have that advantage, if you dont mind that you can get pes with no problem, but if you are that kinda guy really like to see everything licence and lots of content you should not pick pes. From every football game i played in my life fifa 16 is the game with most realist gameplay i ever play, i said many times that about pes and fifa before but this new game is new level i never saw something like this. Pes still a bit more arcade sort a say. That is honest opinion. Anyway if you get pes or fifa this year you will well serve.

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nyran125tk

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@WillyWynn: I just changed all the names and kits to the real life Premier leagues, so the PES premier English teams, look pretty much like licensed teams now.

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EQl33t

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@WillyWynn: pes wins over FIFA in content plenty of user mods not hard to do get more stadiums shies balls teams etc:-)

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No_one

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Someone who has Fifa can they tell me if they improved the headers. In the demo, it was way too overpowered. I could hit headers for fun with short players like Messi and Aguero over big defenders.

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Gooey26

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@no_one: I've found it very difficult. Either my cross goes straight to the goalie regardless of how I aim it. Unless I pull way back in which case the player will overrun the cross. I got Crouch in a pack and he rarely wins me a header.

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JavanC

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@no_one: I controlled Valencia and used Mustafi and Ginter as CB, but often concedes headers to short players. While in attack Negredo seldom wins a header, let alone scoring from it.

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uk_friday

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@no_one: its just very unbalanced full stop

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G4mBi7

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Edited By G4mBi7

My issue with this is that we have FIFA 16 and PES 2016 both of which got a 9/10. The reviews are very uninformative. There are only two soccer games, so they should at least compare and contrast with each other because they aren't equally good.

Gamespot, can we please get a professional review and not just an uninformative opinion. What good does your opinion do me without any perspective or context to compare it to previous other titles in the series or it's ONE competitor.

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Gixzr

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@G4mBi7: AGREE 100% It feels GM/IGN are always trying (rushing) to make reviews sound like a short story. That has a certain amount of words, will fit in a certain amount of time. Instead of spending more time comparing & reviewing more aspects of a game. (The little stuff we Don't already know) ie: I wanted to know if Forza 6 will have adjustable race time/ No. of laps 0-100%? Instead they tell me about rain drops...and we all knew already that the game will have weather.

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tasosk7

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@G4mBi7: Its football and not soccer, and FIFA has FUT so its way better

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EQl33t

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Edited By EQl33t

@tasosk7: here in Us its soccer get over it we have our own football we don't really dig English sports ei cricket vs baseball

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kalarro

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@EQl33t: It's not US vs UK, it's US vs the world. This is football. You can call your sport handegg or something descriptive, instead of stealing a name. If I invent a new sport which you do lying in the ground, Ill invent a name, I wont call it running.

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kalarro

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@kalarro: Oh, I forgot, not only is the name a copy, the sport is a copy from rugby too. Well, it IS rugby, but with protections and stopping the game at every ocasion instead of just going on like in real rugby

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tasosk7

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@EQl33t Cricket and baseball suck, but football is the worldwide king of sports.And guess what,its played 99% with feet ,just like your american rugby is played with hands...

change it to US rugby or american handball ,or something like that

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G4mBi7

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@EQl33t: You're both idio7s. Who cares if it's called Football or Soccer, it's the same sport.

American Football = Cricket; both of which are fun to watch. Baseball is boring, this isn't a cultural preference, it is a personal preference.

FIFA = Federation Internationale de Football Association
PES = Pro Evolution Soccer

If the two of them don't care about naming convention, why do you? FIFA is too easy to score in compared to PES but PES has some AI issues. Both games have their merits, stop being fanboy trolls.

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kalarro

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@G4mBi7: We care because communication is important. And 1. this makes a problem in communication 2. it doesn't make sense. At all. They invent a new sport (copy it from rugby), and then copy the name from another sport... which has a description embebbed in the name that doesn't fit the sport! I mean, wth xD

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LTJohnnyRico

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So called Gamers on this site make me laugh:

Game gets a score you agree with = Reviewer is Spot on

Game gets a higher score than you THINK it deserves = Reviewer got paid off

Game gets a lower score you THINK it deserves = Reviewer doesn't understand Games and needs a new job

Assessment based on the above = True Gamers make up their own minds and care not what others think as we just crack on the enjoy the Games we like !! = Most commenters on GS are not True Gamers !!

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kalarro

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@ltjohnnyrico: You only read the comments you need to rage against them it seems. There are comments (not even mine) which clearly say why this is a bad review. With arguments. For example one explains that there are only 2 big football games, and that this review gives 0 hints about which the reader would find better.

I think that is a very valid point. Of course a review is an opinion, but it is an opinion coming from a professional, not from a random guy. So it should serve a pourpose. And deciding if I will like the game, based on his comments, is something that a review should accomplish

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PC Master Race!!

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coydog2020

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LORDY LORDY this guy reviewing this game needs to find another job. There is no way this game even comes close to a 9. I played the Ultimate team during beta and early release with EA pass. This game was so boring. Felt very arcade. The graphics didn't even seem that great. I've had all the fifas and most of the pes games. PES is a whole lot better. I really was hoping FIFA was going to be great. FIFA just didn't give me the feeling of wanting more. After a few matches I had lost interest.. Hope this helps for you who wants the truth and not the BS.

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MrColdFire

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Edited By MrColdFire

@coydog2020: Yeah, now lets help PC gamers who want the "truth":

Buy PES 2016!

...but only if you don't care for these little inconveniences:

- No offline play -- if you're not connected to the internet, the game simply doesn't run.

- Lame graphics (PC version).

- Useless goalkeepers.

- Robotic -- yes, still -- player movement.

- Lack of licenses and stadiums.

- Very bad referees -- games often end with no fouls.

- Unstable online experience.

- Artificial crowd.

- Ancient user interface.

- Strong arcade feeling.

- False advertising on Steam.

- Did I mention always-online DRM bs?

If you think you can take all that and keep a smile on your face, PES is your footie game this year.

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nyran125tk

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Edited By nyran125tk

@MrColdFire: I can play offline PES on PC, What are you on about? Also I have changed all the logos and kits to represent the real life counter parts, so the Premier League is pretty much like real life. The graphics look fine by the way. Not as crisp, for whatever reason KONAMI decided to downplay the PC version (god knows why, PC's are far ahead of consoles in the hardware specs department, the PC version should be the #1 version to play), but fine. the graphics are fine. The game plays the same as the console version.

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EQl33t

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Edited By EQl33t

@MrColdFire: your way off animations are killing FIFA the collision system is killing FIFA the refs our not as bad as people say I played a game and my friend got sent off for a back tackle there were about 4 fouls i play pretty clean my freind is more reckless ,and anyone that knows Pes knows with the editor and user mods it lacks no content actually a properly modded pes has more content and leagues. Just not the women FIFA got Pes this year with that yawn....

FIFA 16 More Info

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  • First Released Sep 22, 2015
    released
    • Android
    • iOS (iPhone/iPad)
    • + 5 more
    • PC
    • PlayStation 3
    • PlayStation 4
    • Xbox 360
    • Xbox One
    FIFA 16 is a soccer simulation game from EA Sports.
    6.5
    Average Rating327 Rating(s)
    Please Sign In to rate FIFA 16
    Developed by:
    EA Sports, Electronic Arts
    Published by:
    Electronic Arts, EA Sports
    Genre(s):
    Soccer, Sports, Team-Based, Simulation
    Content is generally suitable for all ages. May contain minimal cartoon, fantasy or mild violence and/or infrequent use of mild language.
    Everyone
    No Descriptors