‘FIFA 22’ game review: Next-gen goals, almost

Despite being a small incremental step for the yearly football gaming series, FIFA 22 offers a giant leap in next generation sports games, but with a few annoyances that EA should have anticipated

Though 2022 may not be here yet, the 2022 edition of FIFA is here, right on time. Another chance to hear that ever familiar ‘EA Sports, it’s in the game’ in a new instalment of the football (or soccer, if you’re American) video game series. With competitor eFootball 2022 having a hard time as the worst-reviewed game on Steam, the road is open for FIFA to keep its crown. This year, EA has introduced the first upgrades for in next generation sports games for next-generation console owners, we are intrigued at what has come.

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FIFA 22 has a flashy intro that throws in David Beckham, Lisa Freestyle and Thierry Henry to get you warmed up as you dribble the ball through the bustling streets of Paris in a glorious tutorial intro. Instead of a traditional story, FIFA 22 has a Career Mode that lets you manage your own football club. You can get really granular here with tactical presents in Chance Creation that lets you design your team’s offensive style My continual bingeing of Ted Lasso prepared me for this. You not only play as a club manager but also jump into the shoes of a player as you take on other clubs in fantasy matches.

FIFA 22

  • Developer: Electronic Arts
  • Publisher: EA Sports
  • Price: ₹4,499 on Playstation 5, Xbox Series X, ₹3,999 PS4, Xbox One, ₹2,999 for PC and ₹2,499 Nintendo Switch

From creating your crest to customising your team kits, even building and customising your stadium, you can start by playing pro right away or choose to grow your team from a fresh batch of players and then go pro — it is up to you. If managing your club tires you out, you can jump into the game and have some control over things.

FIFA Ultimate Team — a microtransaction-riddled dream team mechanic also known as FUT — is largely the same as last year, with the same loot boxes, though there is a handy Preview Mode to see what you buy first… but dabble at your own peril here. Volta, the street football mode we loved in previous FIFA games, makes a comeback and benefits from the new tweaks. The real question here is, why Volta is not its own game or even a DLC which would make the FIFA 22 experience feel less crowded and more focused on the more stadium and big goal elements of football.

New boosts of tech

Now that the modes are out of the way, the new mechanics can be broken up into universal and new consoles only. There is a new intuitive passing system using the controller’s thumbsticks — a minor change but a big leap in getting the ball to the right player in the heat of the moment. The much-touted goalkeeper AI rewrite feels more natural but it is still a bit butterfinger-y.

The biggest changes come only in the new consoles and the most welcome of them are the fast loading times. Another notable tech boost is HyperMotion which is marketing for EA slapping motion capture sensors on 22 real players and then inputting that raw data of more than 4,000 new animations into the game; the result is a surprisingly natural-feeling game. The players running across the pitch on my screen felt like I was watching a real live match. The added animation does reduce responsiveness, making the match a bit slower and this fluidity looks and feels quite immersive on a 4K television at 60 frames per second. Yet, there is a certain gravity, movement, weight and speed that you automatically adjust to because it feels more, well, human. This marks an interesting way forward for the series.

The game’s Machine Learning also processes unique contextual animations to ensure players alter their speed and angle to approach the ball in a more human way. You can also look forward to enhanced player humanisations that enable on-field signalling and communication between players for a more social and team-focussed experience. And what is a team without its fans? Enjoy more audience reactions and animations for scoring.

This game looks incredible. The HyperMotion animations look incredible, as well as the players exhibiting their emotions on the pitch with very realistic stadium animations, just bringing that warm feeling of the game to your living room, minus the smell of the pitch. EA has also put in significant effort into the ball and nets physics and the DualSense controller on a PS5 leverages the haptic feedback here pretty well.

Other tactical features include Teammate Contain, Player-Based Difficulty and Disruptive Interceptions, but there is the all-too-basic disadvantage of buggy, slow menus and AI rubber-banding issues.

Considering the unavailability of next-gen consoles this year, it is a shame that FIFA 22’s new HyperMotion does not make it to PC or last gen. But it is still a worthy upgrade on any platform.

The writer is a tech and gaming enthusiast who hopes to one day finish his sci-fi novel

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