Identity politics

FIFA16 Season 1 after 30

I’ve played another session since the above screenshot was taken, a session in which I had several ruinous draws and a defeat and slipped down to the bottom end of the playoff places.

Seasons in Career Mode are incredibly long, so there’s some way to go.

My target for FIFA16 is promotion at the first time of asking – hence keeping it on Professional. Which I would be doing anyway, as I’m not finding Professional easy at all. The low-quality players really ‘shine’ through. I’m having an old-school ML Default-type experience here in FIFA16 in Career Mode, and loving it.

Gameplay is sometimes rather stodgy, in a way that negatively reminds me of FIFA14, but that accounts for perhaps 5% of the overall experience. The remaining 95% is composed of really deep, really satisfying, really engrossing football gameplay.

Going 1-0 down in FIFA16 with a team of knackered League 1 players on the pitch, and then going down to 10 men, really poses a problem. ‘How on Earth am I going to get back into this match?’

In many other recent football games, that wouldn’t be a problem at all. Getting back into the match would just happen. It would happen so routinely that you’d barely even notice.

The watchwords of recent football games are ‘fun’ and ‘flowing’. Which simply isn’t what football games should be all about, but I’ve already flogged that horse to death repeatedly.

FIFA16 is also surprisingly deep tactically. Moving the ATT/DEF levels (to use PES-style nomenclature) up and down using the d-pad is, in FIFA16, the most effective I’ve ever seen in any football game,

Keeping it on Defensive, or lower, pins your full-backs in their own half, seeing them rarely stray beyond the halfway line.

Increase it just a notch towards the Attacking side and your full-backs go haring down the wings. If you then concede possession, the AI will seek to exploit the space left by the marauding full-backs. Football 101.

All-out Attack sees every player camped out in and around the opposition penalty box – which invites devastating counter-attacks from the AI.

I’ve been having tight, tense matches, usually decided by the odd goal, or no goals at all. It’s a high quality football gaming experience. FIFA15 was a superb game, and so is FIFA16, so much so that I believe anybody who thinks differently must have an agenda other than football gaming itself.

As late as the 1970s there were still Japanese soldiers in the wild who refused to acknowledge wartime surrender. Today there are still self-styled hardcore PES fans living in the depths of the jungle who refuse to acknowledge any value in FIFA. It’s all about identity, in my opinion. They want to express the kind of individual and group identity that ‘we’ used to have, way back in the day. Sadly, that identity pretty much died on the day PES2008 came out.


  1. nG – There’s only one word for your opinion of FIFA 16; grown-up. We all know the place that PES holds in your heart (it does for all of us), and how many seasons you give it before even considering that-which-shall-not-be-named. But you’re right, it takes an ardent fanboy in denial to still trot out the “FIFA is rubbish” line.
    As you know I moved over to FIFA when we got an XBox (for the kids of course), and haven’t played a PES since 2012 (custom patched on the PC). Yes FIFA is different, and yes there are things that PES is still better at, but FIFA is capable of giving a hell of a good offline career.

  2. What’s the analogy for a “hardcore PES Player” currently so impressed and immersed in Fifa 16 that he’s almost excited at the prospect of not going back? I ask because right now that’s me.

    Imagine, no more option files, no more stipped down ML, no more wishing they would just take something we had 10 years ago and stick it back in today’s game.

    When Fifa gets scrappy I do find myself missing the ease in which you can ping the ball around in PES – a game recently where every match and every sequence of play is a chance at goal. I find myself thinking the same when watching footy on TV, which is perhaps the biggest compliment I can pay FIFA 16.

    On the attack defence level thing, I am using it and I sense the AI using it which does indeed add a tactical aspect to the game. Formations and player instructions also work which, as I’ve mentioned before, has been sadly lacking in PES since Konami favoured Heart and team spirit gubbins.

    The only minor criticism I have on the attack levels is that you can’t seem to manipulate them unless the ball is in play – leading to some rather frantic multi-tasking.

  3. Chris99 — what PES traditionally does better is magically create that feeling of natural flow and diversity in the moment-to-moment and match-to-match experience of playing the game. The point where FIFA does that as well as, or better than, current PES, is the point where the footy game wars are effectively over and the ‘bad guys’ won.

    At the moment I’m very pleased with how FIFA16 plays and each session is a satisfying one, but time will tell. I played 5-6 seasons on FIFA15 and gave it 9/10. There might be time for a similar amount of seasons on FIFA16 — or more? If PES2017 is a microscopic iteration on PES2016, as I believe it will be no matter what we’re told now, with no fouls and uber-responsiveness, I might pass quite quickly.

    Shed — if the wartime analogy is continued then you’d have to be a prisoner of war who ended up staying in the enemy country and building a life there. You’d be Bert Trautmann.

  4. Are you calling Shed a pain in the neck?

  5. Guilty as charged!

  6. Season 24 nearing the end and top of league and in CL Semis. Next seasons sextuple is nearly on. Boom!!

  7. Lloyd — Lampard at 0:37! Gobsmacking. Best one I’ve seen on PES2016 for sure.

  8. NG – made me glad I took the England job. If I win the league and CL this season, next season could see SEVEN trophies to play for. Septuple on the cards. Boom!!

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