FIFA 22 Review: Still the best football simulation game

With the recent news that the world football governing body FIFA is going to end its decades-long partnership with EA Sports, FIFA 22 might be the last football simulation game that bears the FIFA name.

It will be a pity as FIFA 22 looks to be best iteration of the franchise so far since its inception in 1993. The biggest improvement has to be the new HyperMotion technology.

SPECS
PRICE: From $79.90 (PC; PS4; PS5; Xbox One; Xbox Series X|S, version reviewed), available in Lazada and Shopee
GENRE: Football simulation

Not only does HyperMotion adds over 4,000 new animations of how a player moves, the players’ activity on the pitch have been spread more evenly than ever before.

In addition, the game features proprietary machine learning algorithm that learns from over 8.7 million frames of full match capture for more fluidity and realism. This translates to more realistic movements of all the 22 players on the pitch.

HyperMotion technology offers much realistic gameplay. (Photo: EA Sports)

For instance, if you are playing a 5-3-2 formation with two wing-backs, the three central defenders are more likely to move up to hold a higher line when the wingbacks go for overlapping runs. Your defensive midfielder will also drop back to cover any counter attacks.

Each player’s movement is more life-like, with first touches not always perfect and the ball does not stick to their boots like glue. You can feint body moves or knock the ball ahead when dribbling to get ahead of your opponents. The ball physics is also more realistic and matches the acceleration of the players who are controlling it.

The overall movement and ball physics are much better than its predecessor. (Photo: EA Sports)

On the flip side, defending is no longer just pressing a button. You can track a player, wait for a chance when he knocks the ball a bit far and run in front to regain possession of the ball.

My only quirk about the gameplay is the goalkeepers have become almost superhuman. It is like every goalkeeper is an Allison Becker or Edouard Mendy, making superb saves even on one-on-on situations. It will take a while before you master how to beat these goalkeepers.

Yes, finishing is much tougher than before. You can no longer just press the shoot button and see the ball at the back of the net. The ability to correctly time, weigh and direct your shots becomes critical whether you score a goal or being saved by the keeper.

Having played the game solely on Xbox Series X, the graphics are just amazingly gorgeous. Even my wife quipped that the graphics look visibly better than its predecessor when I was playing the game

From the players’ face likeness to the jerseys they wear, the attention to details are immaculate. Everything has been faithfully reproduced including the stadiums, chants and lighting effects.

As you might expect from a FIFA game, the attention to details – from players’ faces to jerseys – are immaculate. (Photo: EA Sports)

The slick presentation and commentary of the matches make you think you are actually watching a real football match, apart from the fact that you are controlling the players. However, the commentary is way too familiar and gets repetitive pretty quickly.

Otherwise, FIFA 22 has remained pretty much the same in terms of the modes available, such as Volta, Career and the much-maligned FIFA Ultimate Team (FUT).

FOR
+ Superb graphics and presentation in next-generation consoles
+ Major improvements in realism of ball physics and players’ movement
+ Better positioning and awareness from other players
+ Career manager mode lets you start your own club

AGAINST
– Goalkeepers are insanely good
– Commentary gets repetitive quickly
– FIFA Ultimate Team remains too addictive

When you first start the game, you will be asked to create your in-game avatar and be introduced into the basic gameplay by famous freestyler Lisa Zimouche.

And somehow you will end up in Le Parc des Princes, home of Paris St-Germain (PSG). Next, you will be given a “trial” with French legend Thierry Henry and FIFA 22 cover boy Kylian Mbappe. And before you know it, you will be watching a Champions League match (which you will play as one of the team) with F1 champion Lewis Hamilton (I’m pretty sure he’s an Arsenal fan), former footballer David Beckham and boxer Anthony Joshua in the VIP box.

I thought this will be another story mode like the Alex Hunter saga that spanned three FIFA titles. But after finishing the game between PSG and Manchester City, you are thrown to the FIFA 22 start page to decide where you want to go next.

You can decorate your stadium in both Career manager or FUT modes. (Photo: EA Sports)

You can try the Volta mode, which is street football with all the fancy tricks and over-the-top moves. This year’s version adds all-new Skill Meter and Signature Abilities to let you mix up play and influence the game. Not my cup of tea, but might be yours.

The Career mode, in which you can play as a player or a manager, now lets you create your own team as a manager. You can choose the name, kit, crest and stadium pitch as well as select the league you want to compete in. This is pretty refreshing and I think many FIFA players might just choose this mode.

For the Career player mode, you can now come into the match from the bench. This is more realistic, as you usually start out as a young player who would not have much chance to impress to start a game. You can see your Match Objectives, such as scoring one goal or getting two shots on target, when you are subbed into the game.

And when you start a game, you will have Match Objectives before the match starts. You can enhance your objectives if you think you can do better, so you can grow faster as a player.

Sorry, I need to be racing home to play FIFA 22. (Photo: EA Sports)

However, I think most people (like myself), will be busy playing the FUT. This is where you create your own team by recruiting “real” players and other items. This is done so by buying or earning packs to get random players, kits, badges, stadiums and etc. And you compete with other players online to see who has the best FUT.

And there are some changes to help those who might not be so good in FUT. For instance, the Division Rivals has been made to be more user friendly. There is now a Seasons progression structure that rewards you for just playing – regardless of whether you win or lose – as well as reduced weekly match requirements and checkpoints for matchmaking. In all, these new improvements help to make FUT more accessible and fun to play.

VERDICT
Despite its quirks, flaws and FUT, FIFA 22 continues to be the best football simulation game with its realistic gameplay, gorgeous graphics, superb presentation and variety of modes. Not to mention, this might be the last FIFA game…

RATING
9/10