FIFA 22 is the 29th instalment in the FIFA video game series, published by EA (Electronic Arts). EA Sports has produced yet another incremental update to its football simulation series, and the game is as visually appealing and realistic as it has ever been.
If you’re a perennial FIFA player like I am, you’ll know that graphical improvements are the icing on the cake, but gameplay still remains king. Graphics is where FIFA 22 has put some distance between its recent predecessors, but have the improvements on the pitch been enough to keep an EA loyal fan like myself glued to their controller?
FIFA 22 has seen the introduction of a new motion-capture technology called “HyperMotion”, creating a more fluid feel on next-gen consoles by adding over 4000 animations gathered from real-life matches. As this is only available on the next-gen consoles such as the PS5, there is a drastic difference between the PS5 and PS4 versions of the game. People tend to say ‘out with the old and in with the new’, but this is not the case when it comes to playing FIFA 22 on Playstation’s newest console.
As online multiplayer is FIFA’s greatest attraction each year, I’ll start by analysing the gameplay in EA’s most popular game-mode, FIFA Ultimate Team (FUT). On PS5 FUT is a slower and more defensive affair, with players being rewarded for careful passing, resulting in a low-scoring and mind-numbing showdown. Patience more often than not trumps pace, meaning you’ll see players passing the ball until they are right inside your 6 yard box. The defensive AI huddles your back four and even defensive midfielders inside your 18 yard box, making every game a ‘park the bus’ simulator. This might be refreshing for some, but I believe it strays too far from FIFA’s classic arcade feel, as EA strive for a game that is far too realistic. Despite the animations on PS5 being truly incredible and stunning to watch, I don’t think it is enough to tempt players onto the new-gen version.
The PS4 version of FIFA 22 is a breath of fresh air for FIFA faithfuls. Although it is not perfect, it is high-scoring and free-flowing which sparks feelings of nostalgia. The PS4 version is more fast-paced, and gives players the opportunity to score goals which are well worth re-watching and sending to your mates. The defensive AI stays higher up the pitch, meaning through balls and fast counter-attacks are actually viable. There is much for room for variation when attacking, making it fun and fluid. Defending is a real challenge and hard to master, creating an actual skill gap which is far less existent on the PS5 version. Don’t get me wrong, the PS4 version still has its flaws, but in terms of overall enjoyment it is leaps and bounds ahead of the new-gen consoles. I mean who plays virtual football to win 1-0, because I certainly don’t!
Now let’s put gameplay aside and get stuck into the menus. FUT is still very much pay to win, as it is dominated by micro-transactions in the form of packs. These packs are far too expensive for the regular person to afford, yet EA has said they have no plans to alter its approach unless laws are passed that force it to. This is a problem as the only way to afford the top cards on the game is to feed EA with your own money, and only a handful of people can do this. Objectives have been well implemented by EA this year, and appeal to the ‘Road to Glory’ grinders who refuse to spend a cent on in-game micro-transactions. Stadium customisation adds an extra level of creativity, making your club feel more home-like.
FIFA 22 has many other game-modes that appeal to the wider community, who may prefer less competitive options than FUT. The Volta Football game-mode returns, and although it is not quite the new FIFA Street we were all hoping for, it does provide fun opportunities to practice skill moves without the pressure of a full-size pitch. Pro Clubs remains similar to recent years, and is another game-mode that is sure to provide laughs with your mates. Career mode is again very similar to FIFA 21 but with a few nice additions, such as the ability to create your own club and simulate a lot of the menu monotony.
Each mode in FIFA 22 is also complemented by one of the best licensed soundtracks in recent memory, and a good soundtrack is something that EA prides themselves on. The eclectic mix of music covers many genres, and gives light to upcoming and more underground artists, whilst still including some household names such as Glass Animals, Swedish House Mafia and Brockhampton. There are 122 songs across both soundtracks, representing 27 countries.
Overall, FIFA 22 is still the pioneer virtual football game on the market, and the subtle yet not groundbreaking improvements are evident in EA’s latest release. This has been the most enjoyable FIFA game I have played in recent memory, as it still has my interest over six months since it came out. Although the next-gen gameplay isn’t as fast-paced as anticipated, the new motion-capture technology as well as graphics hold promise for future releases. New additions across Career Mode and Volta Football have made FIFA’s other major modes more appealing to play, and help make FIFA 22 feel like a worthwhile upgrade.
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