With much of the world at standstill due to the pandemic, sportsball has been in high demand. Par the course, EA has released its annual installment of FIFA. When it comes to EA, you’re getting a mixed bag, at times opting to go the lazy route and simply copying and pasting with a new coat of paint, where the old adage “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” is a mantra. Suffice it to say, this year’s installment has that same FIFA 20, 19, 18, feel but with wicked smarter AI…
On booting up FIFA 21 you play the EUFA Champion’s League final with Liverpool vs. PSG. From the offset the AI attackers and defenders play like their real life counterparts with little to no stutters or glitches. It used to be a grind to make goals on the past entries, but in 21 the goals come fast and are plenty. By the end of regulation time the game was all tied up at 4 goals apiece. It was exhilarating to say the least.
I found the story mode to be the weakest link of the game. I mean, if you absolutely loved Volta football than you’ll be happy, but nothing really stacks up to FIFA’s The Journey. Volta, is street soccer played away from all the glamorous lights and stadiums. Instead of playing in the Etihad Stadium you’ll play in the mean streets of Paris, France or the neon asphalt of Miami, Florida– something more akin to NFL Street. You’ll create your avatar and get to modify and update their look, from whatever little stubble on his jawline to some serious cringeworthy tattoos that you’re likely to get in the middle of some drunken bender.
Career mode is split in two, be it Manager or Player. In Manager you’ll oversee your club to possible glory or disappointment. If playing the full games isn’t your thing you can sim matches in real time and jump in whenever opportune with a seamless transition. While it used to be that you would train and work your players to death the days leading to matches, now you have to find balance as there are three major categories that’ll affect their performance: fitness, sharpness and morale. These will all be a contributing factor to their overall performance on and off the pitch. If Volta is lacking for you, then look to the career mode to fill in some of the gaps.
Ultimate Team makes a triumphant return, and why wouldn’t it, it is EA’s cash cow after all. There are so many wonderful schemes and formations to play with. Time flies while you’re setting your line ups with the perfect formation and players that fit the role which is in your good interest to find a team that runs like a cohesive unit; it is fun without being tedious. Otherwise you’re talking about sloppy ball and you’ll be getting riggedy-wrecked by some kid in Brazil. Another fun tidbit, you get to customize your own FUT stadium, from the TIFO’s your fans use to the anthem’s they’ll sing out from the stands to pyrotechnics whenever you score a goal.
FIFA Ultimate Team becomes the golden goose of the bunch and where ultimately you’re bound to sink in some serious playtime. As the last entry of the current gen one can’t help but think what leaps and bounds will be made once we get to the new age of gaming (team PS5, all day!). FIFA 21 is nonetheless a fun timewaster that harkens to a time when footy was played in front of thousands of people jam packed like sardines in a stadium. A throwback to a pre-quarantine age. 3/5 Bibles.