Since it’s the end of September, that means we’ve finally got another round of FIFA on our hands. No surprise. So, did EA actually change anything this year? Or has the series finally gone off the deep end? Well, that’s exactly what we’re about to find out in today’s review of FIFA 22.
The New Gameplay Additions of FIFA 22
Compared to last year’s edition, FIFA 22 hasn’t made the biggest of strides in terms of notable gameplay changes. Although one new feature I absolutely adore is the explosive sprint ability. Similar to the bridge skill – which has been nerfed a bit this time around – explosive sprint lets the dribbler immediately transition from a slow jog, straight into full steam ahead, flicking the ball in a direction just in front of the player. It can’t be spammed around the pitch however, as the move does have a cooldown of sorts. But it’s especially useful for forwards since counterattacks and quick breaks in FIFA 22 can absolutely devastate flat-footed defenders. Combine this with a skill move or a cheeky super knock-on or two and you can legitimately ravage the back four. On Ultimate difficulty, I was even able to make a full-pitch run with Harry Kane.
Another aspect I love is how the player can now pull off certain skill moves from the first touch. Adding another layer of strategy to the mix, as the defender has to account for several different options before the receiver’s even started moving with the ball. Second-man defending is much better this time around too. Teammates will actually add some decent pressure to the opposition, instead of that dumb, googly-eyed, ball-staring rubbish from last year. I also really enjoyed the passing of FIFA 22, because you can pull off some straight-up gold.
And not only do the general animations look super smooth, but almost every fumbled or failed passing attempt hardly ever felt like it was the result of the FIFA gods cursing me with terrible accuracy. Okay, every now and then you’ll get the odd “who was that to? Row Z?” kind of thing. But overall, it just feels so intuitive. I’d be remiss not to mention how fast matches load from kick-off on PC as well. It only takes about two seconds after selecting the kits and pressing start to get the ball rolling. A very tidy upgrade from FIFA 21.
FIFA 22’s Double-Edged Sword
However, what I don’t care for as much in FIFA 22 is the AI defence, especially on Legendary and Ultimate – they’re just too damn good sometimes! These guys stick to their formation like their lives depend on it. You’ll all too often find that if you prioritise build-up play in the middle attacking third, pretty much every passing lane will be blocked off or be made significantly difficult to find a breakthrough. And as much as I was praising the second-man defending and sprint abilities before, actually defending against the souped-up AI using these techniques is the equivalent of trying to stop a stampede of bulls. At the drop of a hat, they’ll just be like “nup, we’re scoring now” and there’s literally NOTHING you can do about it.
Moving over to Manager mode; it’s basically exactly the same as last year. Coaches and agents remain super creepy-looking and still just awkwardly mouth dialogue at each other, like they’re having the most passive-aggressive conversation you’ve ever seen. But in all seriousness, I think this mode’s already good enough as is. One notable change is that you can now build up a team of nobodies from scratch in FIFA 22 with all sorts of customisation options. From designing the club’s kit, logo, stadium, transfer budget, board expectations, etcetera. Although I always find it way more enjoyable to take an already pre-existing team to greater heights.
Volta Football Is Still No FIFA Street…
Ultimate team is back, of course…
Moving on, Volta Football has taken some baby steps towards the FIFA Street 2 style we all know and love, however it’s still not quite there yet. A new game-breaker-like power up gives players a temporary boost in stats like shooting and pace, and it definitely makes Volta more fun and arcade-y. I just wish they’d bring back the game-breaker system of the old-school FIFA Streets, because they actually made performing tricks worth something, other than simply looking cool. The best part about Volta though – hands down – is that there’s none of that garbage story stuff from FIFA 21. Instead, it’s just no-nonsense gameplay with Volta Battles against the AI for player upgrades and personalisation, as well as the online Squad matches and Arcade mode.
The latter being quite an amusing addition, as you can play all sorts of silly street-style games like footy-tennis and dodgeball to improve your player’s skills. The only thing is, why did EA restrict Arcade mode exclusively to weekends? I don’t think I’ll ever understand the logic there. However, I do like how they’ve introduced a skill-tree system for the player’s avatar in Volta and Player Career, as the unlockable perks can make a measurable difference on the outcome of a match.
FIFA 21 marked several key improvements out of the box, but even though there’s been a couple of changes to the various game modes of FIFA 22, it ultimately feels like a double-edged sword of sorts. For almost every positive new addition, there seems to be a related aspect that unfortunately falls flat or holds back key features in some way. FIFA 22 has had a fairly modest impact on the series in terms of evolution. But at the end of the day, with its myriad of game modes on offer, players can still find hours of footballing fun.
FIFA 22 brings a smidgen of interesting additions to the series, although a few of them recoil – for lack of a better word – upon closer examination. Manager mode is relatively the same, Ultimate Team still heavily prioritises micro-transactions and Volta Football only edges slightly closer to the glory days of FIFA Street. A decent entry overall.
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