REVIEW: FIFA 21
So far this year we have been in a constant state of not knowing what is going to come next. From pandemics to elections and all the mayhem in between there are very few certainties nowadays. One thing that is for sure is that the guys over at EA Sports will release another edition of there world conquering football title FIFA. The new entry into the series promised to iron out all the issues that had been raised from FIFA 20 and try to fine tune the experience players had more so than a drastic overhaul. Read on to find out if we thought that they have added enough to warrant handing over your hard earned cash.
Unlike the last 2 installments in the series, FIFA 21 really doesn’t have any major new elements added. Previously we have been treated to the entirely new concepts of “Volta Football”, a small sided skill based gamemode, along with “The Journey” where you experienced a story like game mode, following the rise of a young player starting off their career. FIFA 21 has no new mode to boast, so it feels more like an updated version of FIFA 20 with improved menu layout and tweaks to the controls.
This is one of the main issues with games that are released annually. Unless you can actively freshen up the series and add new features there is a good chance that the game can begin to feel stale. Just a few hours into playing the latest edition I found myself thinking I had loaded up the wrong game. So many similarities remain with FIFA 20 that it really does seem as though EA have taken the cautious route and just tried to refine more than redefine.
Career mode has received some much needed TLC with the option to now jump into a simulated game at any point and take over if your team aren’t performing as you would like.
There is a strong focus on youth development and they have added the option to change a players preferred position if you feel their traits are better suited elsewhere. Why not have a left back playing up front if he’s 6 foot 8, right?
Ultimate Team and Volta have also gained a few improvements and new elements that help to keep them interesting. Ultimate Team has new community based objectives, along with EA deciding to ditch many of the unused or unwelcome aspects of the FIFA 20 edition. Things like player fitness being removed are a step in the right direction, as it was frustrating and pointless, so this is just one example of how minor changes can make a game mode better. Volta has added some famous former footballers alongside some other sporting legends. Eric Cantona, Thierry Henry and for some reason Anthony Joshua are making an appearance and they are now playable in some newly added locations and venues.
Audio / Visual
Again it’s hard to say that FIFA 21 is notably better looking than FIFA 20 but there are subtle additions and cleaning up of the visuals that if you have a reasonably decent TV at home you will notice. Players’ faces have been scanned and updated with more expression visible during gameplay. Stadiums and grounds from all over the world have been meticulously recreated to the point where some are photo realistic.
One of my favourite things about the new FIFA every year is to see what the new soundtrack will be like. There is always a good mix of some better known artists and songs along with some of the more obscure. Dua Lipa, Royal Blood, Celeste and our very own Irish singer Biig Piig feature and before you know it you will bopping away to some very well selected music.
Next Gen Editions
EA Sports have in my opinion taken the wise decision to offer gamers the option to upgrade your current gen edition of FIFA 21 to the next gen when they release in November. This means that if you now own the game on either PS4 or XBOX One you can upgrade to the PS5 or XBOX Series X for free if you decide to buy one of the new consoles. EA have called this dual entitlement. Some of the other developers out there have not yet committed to this idea so I have to give EA some respect for that. Gamers on average already spend a significant amount of money purchasing games, so to have to buy a version for each console would be a strain. Especially when FIFA 20 was released later than normal and that the next gen of consoles are due to release early to mid November. It will be interesting to see how the two will compare and if the upgrade from current to next gen consoles will be as smooth as people are hoping.
All in all, FIFA 21 is a step forward in the series. Be it the fine tuning of the controls and A.I. during gameplay or the new menu layout and game mode additions, there is enough here to make you want to play it instead of FIFA 20 although my question is if it should have the same price tag. I understand that games these days are not cheap to make, FIFA for example have a large amount of licenses required which means it’s a costly venture but I feel there could be room for an option in between. Why not bring out a redesign of the series every 2-3 years at full price but for the interim years, charge less for a product that is usually just an updated version of the previous. That way gamers know what to expect and not feel hard done by like I did with this year’s FIFA.
I look forward to seeing what can be achieved with the next generation of consoles but for me the current gen seems to have reached its limit and FIFA is an example of this.