Developed by: ELECTRONIC ARTS
Published by: ELECTRONIC ARTS
Platforms: PlayStation, PC, XBOX, STADIA, Switch
Reviewed On: PlayStation 5
Another FIFA Game
Another year and another FIFA game. It’s almost like a religious ritual that only happens once every year where I will faithfully unfold my wallet and hand EA my hard-earned money. And every year around this time, my friends would laugh at me for spending money on something that’s the same every year (because to them, it is).
I didn’t mind it because as much as I too have things I absolutely LOVE to complain about when it comes to FIFA, I love playing it more. It should be noted, though, that this review is done from the perspective of a FIFA player (me) who mostly just plays the Career modes. As such, you will not find me talking about Volta and FUT that much (if at all).
Most Expensive Video Games Introduction, I’m Sure
FIFA 22 started off with a grand introduction. A nice cozy place in Paris before the camera shows David Beckam sitting down at a table having his breakfast. The game then went on to introduce the character-making screen where we’d have to make our own avatar and before long, I was dribbling a ball through the walkways of the most romantic city. The whole introduction phase included some tutorials showcasing the latest features of FIFA 22 and how to pull those moves in a game.
I don’t know how much EA paid for the production of this tutorial as a whole, but I can guarantee this is the most expensive tutorial ever made for a video game. Because not only David Beckam was in it, but the Arsenal legend Thierry Henry and the deadly PSG frontman Kylian Mbappe were in it too and not just cameo appearances. Their characters are voiced by the real players and they were in it for a solid 5-10 minutes! And at the end of the scene, another player I didn’t expect came into the frame and it was the Spurs winger Son Heung-Min. I wondered if the whole setup was leading into something bigger, like a story mode or sort, but as it turns out, it only lead me to the Menu screen where I’m free to do what I want.
The only benefit here is, if you had spent enough time at the character making and made yourself a good-looking fellow you can use anywhere, you can now directly import the said avatar into your new Manager or Player career mode.
Career Modes And What’s New
The career modes are where I spend most of my time in the series. It has been like that since the beginning. In the Manager Career mode, I enjoy building my team, training them, toying with them, and see if I can get them somewhere. As for the Player career mode, this is where I enjoy a ‘Locked Player’ mode and set the camera to ‘Pro’ and play my character as if I would in an action game.
I started off light with the Player Career this year and placed my player on my favourite football club, Liverpool. Two things immediately stood out here from the menu – the new skill tree and the setting that allows days to be skipped without the interruption of Training Days and Notifications. Training and notifications can be easily set to bypassed, creating a much smoother skip if I wanted. But since I was building my player, I decided to take on all the Training Days head-on to accumulate as much Exp as I could to level my player up to earn the badly needed skill points to improve my player. But even that is made easier this year as the Training regime no longer simulates the results randomly, in fact, I’d only need to hit the highest grade once in training, and from thereon I can safely simulate the regime at the highest grade.
Each training session would net around 3.6k EXP if simulated, you get another 300 extra EXP as an incentive for manually participating in them. At the start of every match, the gaffer would give me 3 objectives to complete and they are mostly easy to achieve. ‘Get a match rating of 7.5 or better’, ‘Successfully complete 60% of dribble’, ‘Intercept a ball 5 times’, ‘Avoid losing, win or draw this match’, and more. Successfully completing them nets a bigger exp reward at the end of the match and it’s quite easy to get enough of them to level up in the first 15 levels.
With every exp gained, I would get several skill points to invest into the RPG-ish looking skill tree, which feels more meaningful than the old “Complete 50 successful dribble to get +3 Dribbling”. From early on, my player could comfortably gain over 90 points in paces, making him a super versatile Attacking Midfielder. I then set my next course of investments into gaining him as much Stamina as I can so that he’d last longer on the field and hopefully produce some results. Other essential skills like Dribbling, Passing, Shooting, were all compensated by my individual skills and experience in the series. It worked well against lesser opponents and I’d eventually need those other skills to fare well against stronger teams.
In the previous FIFA games, the Player Career mode does not substitute my player into a game mid-game. The player is either one of the starting eleven, or he/she just didn’t make the team that weekend. Mid-game substitution only happens in the story mode back then and where we’re given a set of goals to achieve. In FIFA 22, that changed. Players can start in the career mode mid-game and are given objectives. This new adjustment adds more realism to the game’s structure and should remain in the next FIFA games if not improved.
My OVR 71 player needed to impress Jurgen Klopp (Liverpool’s gaffer) in order to fill the favour meter. Doing well on the field and training helps me to do that. It didn’t take long before my meter was full and I was guaranteed a starting position – I know it’s weird that an OVR 70+ player is guaranteed a starting post in Liverpool, but yeah. I was playing well until several games later when we played Leeds. Our Right Back, Trent Alexander-Arnold went up to take the corner and he curled that cross perfectly into the box and my player was waiting to head it in (hopefully) before one of the Leeds defenders fell on me in the mid-air scuffle. Even with my player rolling and groaning in pain, I didn’t think much of the Medical Icon that appeared on his head. It means he’s injured, but I wasn’t ruling him out for more than just a few days or more than a week because we rarely get injured in the previous FIFA games, and even when we do, they are just short-term injuries.
But then the message from our Senior Physio came and I was informed that I’d be out for 3 months. For 3….. damn months…I couldn’t do a single thing, not training nor watching the games. I could only skip through my injuries every few weeks at a time, hoping to catch the message that I could at least return to training earlier and I did, but only a week or so before the 3 months’ end.
During the three long months, Liverpool has managed to stay on top of the league sharing points with Chelsea but was knocked out of the Champions League by Porto, with the Portuguese club and AC Milan proceeding to the next stage as group winners. That wasn’t the worst news, my favour meter has depleted and I received a message from the gaffer telling me he will have none of my nonsense and that my performance so far was unacceptable (presumably due to the favour meter), totally discarding the fact that I was injured for 3 months. I laughed at the weird encounter since this was obviously a bug then I got another message from the boss, telling me he’d found me a lower division club I should go on loan for. I accepted the loan, arrived at the new club, and then saved the game and started Managers Career mode to see what’s new there.
The biggest addition in the Manager mode is the part where we can now create our own Football Club and start it in any league we want. I could go for a lower division and play my way up to the top if I wanted to. It’s quite interesting because the game also allows us to choose our stadium, our jerseys, and even team chants from existing clubs. So, there was it was, my Bunny FC donning a Black Home jersey and a Yellow Away kit bearing the logo I picked from one of the many pre-designed logos, and my team walks onto the pitch to the cry of glory that is ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’.
The manager mode with the new team creation function was fun for a while but the whole mode was largely the same as FIFA 21. But I do commend EA for the improvements made on the Quality of Life settings that I mentioned earlier, such as being able to Bypass training and notifications now, and how training can be simulated at the highest grade for the best results.
Visually, the game isn’t too big a leap from FIFA 21 but it’s leagues away from Konami’s PES replacement, E-Football. Compared to Konami’s game, EA’s FIFA looked god-send. There are many new animations that make the game feel more realistic this year in FIFA. Goalkeepers are like Oliver Khan on steroids after testosterone treatments, they are more aggressive and would sweep shots out of the air as a real goalie would. I am genuinely impressed with the quality of goalkeeping animation this year.
The gameplay also feels more mature compared to the more skill-driven FIFA 21 where everyone can be Neymar. FIFA 22 requires a more ‘Tiki-taka’ style football where possessions must be treasured and goal opportunities are pried open with patience. Opponents defend a lot better now, holding the line properly and their tacklings are a consistent threat to anyone driving the ball ambitiously. However, feigning a move also feels more natural, and AI opponents react more realistically compared to FIFA 21 where they usually see-through feints.
I’ve found myself doing a lot more passing in FIFA 22, including back passes in my attempts to pry open the defense by luring them away. At half time and at the end of a match, the game would present a stats sheet where I can see how my team was performing. It was amazing to have the data to review how my team was doing; where my opponents tend to take advantage of, the heatmap that shows where most of the duels and runs took place, the number of passes and where they mostly happen, and more. I found myself consulting the data more and more, especially when I’m losing. Just to see how I can manipulate the pattern or introduce a strategy to upset my opponent’s play. It’s fun because it introduced another perspective to look at the game and enables proper planning.
All this possession-based football and the work it needs to win a game, especially against tougher teams makes goal-scoring all the more meaningful. I’ve found myself celebrating my goals like a mad man and also castrating my teammates by yelling at the TV. FIFA 22 also added a subtle but noticeable sound effect when the ball hits the net, it was a nice touch and adds to the joy of scoring. I hated the adaptive trigger function on the PS5 on FIFA 21, I always felt the resistance was too strong when I held R2 down for my player to run on low stamina. FIFA 22 handled that perfectly by removing that resistance that didn’t make sense. Running feels natural again now.
New Game, Same Problem
But it isn’t all rainbows and sunshine in FIFA 22 even on the single-player career modes. Some of the old problems with AI are still present in FIFA 22, and they’d occasionally appear just to remind me they are still here. Some of the most clinical strikers in the sports like Ronaldo, Kane, and Mbappe still do the dumbest thing like turning around and passing the ball to the teammate behind them even when they could clearly drive the ball forward and try to score it.
Imagine this; there was no defender in front of the striker, only the goalkeeper and he was only 30 yards away max. The nearest defender was 3 steps behind him but somehow, the striker felt pressured enough to stop dead on his track, turn around, and pass the ball back to his midfielders. It was amazingly stupid and I don’t get why this is still happening. This sometimes hampers the gameplay experience especially when it involves a potentially game-deciding goal.
On the Pro-Camera mode, I’ve experienced instances where the camera just ran out of focus. Most of the time the game would look the way it’s supposed to look – which is clear and sharp. But halfway through a game, I don’t know what triggers this but the game would just choose to focus on the ball and its immediate surrounding, resulting in the visuals of those further away being blurred. It is distracting when this happens when you can’t see the players properly. Imagine smudges of reds and yellows (hints of players and their jerseys) on the lower half of the screen when the ball is in the upper half when Liverpool plays Borussia Dortmund
Why I don’t like Volta and FUT
On why I’m not reviewing Volta and FUT, it’s because these are the two modes I avoid like a plague. Volta because I dislike the attitude of the A.I who celebrates their meaningless goals disrespectfully whenever they’d scored against me. And FUT because it hurts even more when a real player does it. I’m just kidding, of course (or am I?) but for some reason, these two modes just didn’t attract me so much.
Volta has a new Arcade mode this year that features mini-games that only happens on the weekends (puzzling decision). So, I’m guessing those who loved Volta before this would have something more to play in FIFA 22. I prefer the traditional 11 vs 11 on a standard football field where my club will play meaningful matches against opponents that I didn’t need to worry about their ridiculous rainbow-coloured team and this effectively ruled out Volta and FUT.
What I Really Liked
- I didn’t mention it up there because it’s subtle, but this year’s FIFA has a pretty decent soundtrack playlist.
- New and Improved animation is fun to look at and adds to the gameplay experience.
- The improved Quality of Life settings is great.
- Overall gameplay experience feels more solid than FIFA 21
- The new RPG-liked skill tree in Player Career is realistically more achievable and meaningful.
- +1 because we can now create our own team.
What I Wished Was Better
- The same old problem with AI sometimes being dumb is being passed down from one FIFA to another like an inheritance.
- Pro-camera running out of focus can be mighty distracting.
- Bugs in the game’s decision algorithm need to be worked on. For example when Jurgen Klopp chastised my player for not performing well when in fact, my player was injured for 3 months.
I have played 9 FIFA games including this one and my past experience with the series has always been a love-hate relationship. I hated myself for loving to play it because it was always the same-old-same-old game. I wasn’t expecting FIFA 22 to do wonders this year but the game genuinely impressed me with its new ideas and implementations.
The new features gave the series the revitalisation it badly needed and players like myself desperately craved. The game is still sometimes visited by ghosts of its past but they look dimmed when compared to the new features and improvements.
With Konami’s e-Football disqualifying themselves as a worthy competitor to FIFA this year, I can only hope EA doesn’t start relaxing their foot on the pedal yet. There’s still more work to do (like improving the A.I and maybe do away with loot boxes on FUT?) and hopefully, we’d see an even bigger and better football game in the future.