FIFA 22 (Xbox Series X/S) Review

By Justin Prinsloo 03.10.2021

Review for FIFA 22 on Xbox Series X/S

For a while now, entries in the FIFA franchise have been met with trepidation; for years, it's been more or less the same experience with just enough changes for EA to flog it as a new, improved title. FIFA 22 is out to shake up this perception. Even before it released, trailers and marketing for the year's biggest football sim showcased some exciting changes, building anticipation for fans even before they got their hands on it. The promise of improvements geared towards the new generation of consoles has made FIFA 22 the most heavily anticipated FIFA title in years.

FIFA 22 kicks off by showing most of its cards at once. You take the reigns of your own created up-and-coming footballer who is whisked through Paris by a host of big name sporting celebs. David Beckham, Thierry Henry, Kylian Mbappe, and a few more surprise faces are present to give a wow-factor right off the bat. And it works.

This introductory sequence is the closest thing to a "story mode" in FIFA this year, existing purely to show off the new tech and features. And thank the heavens for that. This reviewer is not sure he could have sat through another cringeworthy story mode à la The Journey. This is the first indication that the developers have listened to community feedback and implemented it across the board.

FIFA 22's freshest features are allocated where it matters. Much has been made of the new HyperMotion technology exclusive to PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series consoles (and strangely absent on PC, at least at launch). This has shaken up how FIFA is played, and it's an absolute hit. The animations, AI team dynamics and ball physics are the most realistic they've ever been. If not for the floating triangles indicating your currently controlled player and the HUD elements onscreen, you'd be forgiven for thinking an actual game of football was unfolding before your eyes.

Screenshot for FIFA 22 on Xbox Series X/S

This results in an experience that requires some relearning, at least when it comes to taking on the CPU. The improved AI team intelligence here requires that your tactics are a little more robust, which is a very good thing. It's a treat that makes the whole experience feel fresh and more lifelike than ever.

The player models are also impressively realistic. Well, some of them are, anyway. Big name players like Ronaldo, Messi and Mbappe are strikingly authentic, though they do stick out amongst face scans and character impressions of lesser quality. Still, FIFA 22 is a looker, and it's a joy to see the janky, awkward animations of old being phased out on the pitch as well.

The changes to this year's entry amount in the biggest overhaul to FIFA's systems in a long while - even if the majority of these changes play it safe by finally offering the fans what they've been petitioning for years. New gameplay systems like explosive sprint, player lock and icon switching serve to streamline the experience. Outside of the enhanced gameplay on the latest consoles, the majority of your attention deserves to be focussed on the changes made to Manager and Player Career Modes.

Manager Career Mode, while remaining largely the same when taking charge of an existing team, now offers the chance to create your own club for the first time in years. This consists of designing your named team's kits, badge, stadium and atmosphere, and selecting the size of your club based on your preferences. You can set your starting team's overall stats and age, as well as the board expectations placed on you. Essentially, it gives more control when starting out on the manager's path, and it's a most welcome and fun addition which will hopefully become even more robust and flush with features in future entries.

Screenshot for FIFA 22 on Xbox Series X/S

Creating your team's kits has a surprisingly impressive amount of options, with a wealth of templates all fully customisable with your desired primary, secondary and tertiary colours. Badge creation is a little less robust with just a few generic options once you've chosen your crest shape, but it still represents a welcome addition.

Player Career Mode is where it's at this year, though. The process of improving a created player's attributes has been overhauled, with a levelling and skills-based system previously reserved for The Journey and, more recently, Volta's story modes. It works so, so well in Player Career and gives you more control in crafting your player - as well as adding urgency to the process of meeting the manager's expectations and levelling up. All in all, Player Career Mode is worthy of attention this year even if you're not a regular admirer of the mode.

Elsewhere, there are some fun new Volta party modes to play online and with friends. Volta itself has been given a few gameplay tweaks in the form of a meter that fills up during gameplay based on your level of what can only be described as FIFA Streetness. As the meter fills up, higher tiers afford more goals per goal scored, which can be immensely frustrating to go from 2-0 up to 2-3 down in a single lapse of defensive awareness. But hey, Volta was never meant to be a serious mode, right?

Screenshot for FIFA 22 on Xbox Series X/S

And then there's the elephant in the room: Ultimate Team. While it's more streamlined and addictive than ever, it's still the familiar pay-to-win slog it's always been. At this point, it's almost fair to say that FIFA players have to settle for that. Those that love it, love it, and there's enough elsewhere in the experience to ignore it entirely. Still, it would be great to see a competitive team-building mode that foregoes microtransactions entirely - but given Ultimate Team's popularity, that's likely a big ask.

Next, let's talk about an often overlooked component in FIFA entries - the soundtrack. In recent years it's been abysmal, forcing this reviewer to turn it off entirely after a few weeks. In FIFA 22, at long last, the catalogue of songs is once again back up to scratch with some tunes that are very listenable for the most part. There's a smaller list of songs in the base experience to make way for Volta's own brand of in-game music but hey, it's getting back to where it needs to be.

Lastly, it's worth mentioning one unfortunate foible: the diminishing number of licensed teams in the roster. It's a strange juxtaposition that while FIFA 22's scope is the largest it's ever been, it's real-life team, league and stadium names continue to slowly expire. Atalanta, Lazio, Napoli, even Arsenal's Emirates Stadium have all been generically rebranded as a result of expiring licenses. While there's a good reason for this in that Konami have slowly been accruing these licenses for FIFA's rival franchise, PES, it's still frustrating from a consumer's perspective. Perhaps with the broad failure of this year's PES transformation - eFootball - EA may once again begin to repopulate its growing list of lost names.

Screenshot for FIFA 22 on Xbox Series X/S

Cubed3 Rating

8/10
Rated 8 out of 10

Great - Silver Award

Rated 8 out of 10

It feels strange to have to say this, but FIFA 22 is a sports game made with love, whose developers have obviously rediscovered the joy behind how a football sim should behave. The changes to gameplay and graphics, and the evolutions of established modes, give it the largest scope yet for a football sim - perhaps any sports game, ever. And it pays off. FIFA 22 is the most streamlined, self-aware and ultimately enjoyable FIFA title in years and makes a strong case for being its altogether best entry. It's just about the shakeup that the fans have been asking for for a long time, and it's a pleasure to say it's well worth playing for the next year.

Developer

EA

Publisher

EA Sports

Genre

Sport

Players

4

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  8/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

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