FIFA 22 Review
The FIFA series has dominated the virtual representation of the beautiful game for years. With its closest rival amid a controversial rebrand, EA Sports has the opportunity to capitalize on Konami’s wayward strike, solidifying the franchise as the Ballon d’Or. Although last year’s iteration made the jump to next-gen consoles, fans were disappointed with the minor updates accompanying the release. Built with the PS5 and Series S/X in mind, EA Vancouver has implemented HyperMotion technology that aims to truly capture the sport’s nuances, but will it actually make a difference to the gameplay?
Rather than placing you directly in the hot seat of a cup final, the game starts by showing the journey of a Volta player on his way to the match. Presented like a slick Adidas advert, you begin by creating your avatar before running through the streets of Paris. Segments are interspersed with chance meetings with legendary players and minigames that act as a tutorial. Although these are simple enough for veterans of the franchise, the novelty factor supersedes this making it thoroughly enjoyable. Upon arriving at the stadium, after a training session with Henry and Mbappe, you’ll take the reigns as PSG against Liverpool in the Champion’s League Final, which is where the fundamental changes are evident.
Instantly, you will notice that the tempo of matches has decreased. The previous entry placed speed at the forefront, creating a high-tempo game where the player’s pace was vital. This resulted in balancing issues, hindering the effectiveness of particular athletes. EA Vancouver’s decision to alter this will likely result in experimenting with different players to suit the style of football that you want to achieve.
HyperMotion has been front and center of the advertising campaign of FIFA 22. At first, I just dismissed it as it sounded like another buzzword, a fad to suggest that the game had made significant improvements; however, I can confirm that HyperMotion is a game-changer. Players actively look for space and intelligently make runs, constantly giving you options to attack. In addition, the ability to manually call players towards you or make them run forward also helps when playing possession-based football.
While players like Messi and Ronaldo have always stood out amongst the rest in FIFA, other great footballers used to be overlooked due to their lack of pace. This is no longer the case. For example, Pogba possesses the strength to push opponents away, the footwork to weave in and out of tackles, and the vision to make that sumptuous pass that will ultimately lead to a goal. Due to this, matches and teams are more diverse, adding a lovely additional layer of strategy to the game.
Defending has always been problematic in FIFA. Players tend to wander off on their own, leaving a gulf in your defense; however, due to HyperMotion Technology, this is no longer the case. Each member of the squad seems to work together, creating solid lines in defense and midfield. If you decide to make a surging run forward with Harry Maguire, a player will drop back to plug the gap which would have been left in previous releases.
Give It a Crack!
Improvements made to the weight of the ball have affected the passing and shooting. Adding to the realism, passes are not as zippy and are quite similar to their implementation in the Pro Evolution Soccer series. Although the game doesn’t manage to capture the ferocity of strikes that permeate its real-life counterpart, EA Vancouver has collected to take an essential stride in the right direction.
A myriad of additions has also been added, refining the moment-to-moment gameplay. You can now switch to the exact player you require with a simple click of the right stick and a tilt of the analog. This allows for defensive strategies to be easily implemented, adding additional tactical elements to the game. Fans will be pleased to know that the clumsy goalkeepers that bumbled between the posts in FIFA 21 are now gone. Completely reworked, keepers are assured in net, making suitable saves and intelligent decisions; however, they are not overpowered and may flap at the odd cross. The range of animations added is evident with authentic goal-line scrambles that will make your pulse race.
I was dubious when I heard about the inclusion of explosive sprint, but it works pretty well. Players can launch forward, racing past defenders or allowing you to catch up with the opposition. Providing the context is correct, this short burst can give you that much-needed boost, which is particularly useful with 1-on-1 encounters.
Kicking Lee Dixon out of the commentary booth is one of the best decisions EA Vancouver made. No longer do you have to hear bizarre phrases such as, “He’s got the defense on toast” or the dreaded “It’s a double bubble, Derek!”. Stewart Robson, although traditional, works and is a welcome addition to the game.
Moving off the pitch, FIFA 22 has made several improvements to the range of modes packed within. In Player Career, your journey to the top builds from a young prospect to coming off the bench and eventually solidifying your place in the starting lineup. You will be able to personalize your player’s growth by selecting perks further distinguishing your avatar. The cinematic presentation has also been developed with pre-match sequences that sum up the importance of the match and fun antics that portray the camaraderie in the dressing room.
Volta has been refined, incorporating more elements from the FIFA Street series. A new skill meter has been added, allowing you to use a signature ability, such as super-speed, for a short amount of time. The most significant addition to the mode is Volta Arcade, a selection of minigames that you can enjoy online. Here, you can team up with three friends to play Foot Tennis, Dodgeball, and much more. While they are fun, the odd decision to make them online only and available just at the weekend will mean many won’t even try them out.
Probably the most popular game mode, FIFA Ultimate Team, remains essentially unchanged. After its successful implementation at the end of FIFA 21, preview packs have become standard practice for the series, allowing you to see which footballers and items you’ll get if you purchase the pack. Accessing the coveted Squad Builder Challenges is now also more straightforward because it is placed directly on the home screen. While EA has fixed some of the issues, Ultimate Team is still littered with monetization, adding frustration to an enjoyable mode.
FIFA 22 is the improvement that many fans have been waiting for. Shifting the focus away from pace, the game has managed to achieve a new level of realism. Due to HyperMotion Technology, players act and move intelligently, increasing strategic possibilities in offensive and defensive scenarios. With a litany of tweaks and refinements, FIFA 22 is the best iteration of the sport in the franchise.
*** A PS5 key was provided by the publisher ***
• HyperMotion technology
• Slower pace
• Improved keepers
• Volta arcade is weekend only
• Shooting still needs work
• Monetization in FUT