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Real-Time Tactical Action: FIFA 16 Demo

Our Graham often writes posts about EA’s FIFA games, but as he’s off on holiday this week (sitting in a quiet, dark room, for all I know), I’ll have a crack at this one. Hey there, FIfans! (I imagine that’s the term.) EA yesterday released a FIFA 15 FIFA 16 [official site] demo, so we might finally answer the question on all of our lips: have they managed to keep the action lively for the sixteenth game (sixteen! can you imagine?) in their real-time tactical series? I strapped on my leg armour to find out.

If you’ve played Unreal Tournament’s Bombing Run mode, you’ll get the basics: two teams are fighting to gain control of a bomb (defused, in this) and launch it into the enemy’s goalzone. Except you only have melee attacks. It’s made tricker yet by playing from a third-person perspective, and having 11 characters yourself. You only control one at once, switching in real-time (no tactical pause!), while an AI babysits the rest.

Though the bomb is the key to victory, you’ll quickly realise that controlling space is paramount. Using your active chap to deny areas and block enemies, narrowing their paths and options, gets you further than nipping at their ankles. Speaking of, a little violence is permitted, but curiously little. It’s tricky but awfully interesting. I was only disappointed I couldn’t control all 11 warriors at once.

The demo has twelve factions: Chelsea, Inter Milan, Real Madrid, Barcelona, Borussia Dortmund, Borussia Mönchengladbach, Manchester City, Seattle Sounders, River Plate, Paris Saint-Germain, and the USA and German Women’s National Teams. Though each character looks different-ish, they play about the same, with no unique skills (beyond the bombwarder, who has hand strikes) or customisable gear. If you do want stats, though, the demo has a slice of its Ultimate Team mode, a squad-building collectible card game sort of thing.

It’s curious that FIFA 16’s graphical detail goes down to even individual blades of grass when the terrain is simply a flat field–why not some interesting obstacles? (Maybe there’s something to say for the simplicity.) The well-modelled crowds could be more involved too, perhaps as a neutral third faction both sides would vie for control of.

The cinematics are ludicrous, wedging in narrative nonsense. Each battle has a long intro filled with lore and guff and actual songs, while frags and bloopers get slow-motion replays, and half-way through it pauses for a montage cutscene, then an even longer montage with awful music comes at the end. These are skippable, at least. Two narrators gab and freely break the fourth wall too.

Having played only two or three of the 15 earlier FIFA games, I couldn’t reasonably judge 16 as part of a series. However, if you enjoy real-time tactical action, I’d say maybe give it a look.

You’ll find the demo on Origin.

CHAMPIONS!

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Alice O'Connor

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