FIFA 21 Review: What’s New & Should You Buy It?
FIFA 21 also comes with an online multiplayer mode.
Disclaimer: This is the PlayStation version of FIFA 21 and was reviewed on the 1st generation PS4. The Quint received a digital copy of the game from the company for review purposes.
EA Sports didn’t come out with a demo of FIFA 21, and this didn’t really go down well with a lot of potential buyers. This made it tougher for people to pre-book the game as many feared that there weren’t a lot of changes that FIFA 21 was bringing compared to its previous iteration.
Early FIFA 21 reviews brought some of the worst nightmares of EA to life as gameplay videos and critics suggested that there isn’t much to look forward to. I, too, was a sceptic when I received my reviewer's copy but didn’t jump the gun with my initial reactions to the game.
I thought let’s give the game some more time. So, after a series of patches and bug fixes, FIFA 21 is all set to enchant the dynamic world of football simulation. So, what does FIFA 21 offer and what are some of the cons? Let’s take a look.
You can’t just mindlessly pass anymore. Your body position and the position of the players matters a lot. There are times that that pass will be misdirected even if you delay the joystick movement by a millisecond.
In FIFA 21, you have to think your passes through and through balls are also tougher to come by. Since ball physics was updated the last time, the turf and conditions will decide how fast the ball travels on the pitch. I liked that addition and keeps the gameplay and touches close to the real game experience.
Defending is a challenge this year around. Unless you jockey players and consistently move your player around the attacker, it’s going to be difficult to stop your opponent.
The defending AI doesn’t feel intuitive for it to drag the central defensive midfielder back on its own. You now have to manually keep switching between the midfielders and drag them back yourself to get them in the right defensive position.
Defending in FIFA 21 is more tactical and putting in lunges is going to be difficult as dribbling and ball control seems to have been refined in this version.
What’s noticeable is that in FIFA 21 it’s tougher body-checking a player as there is a lot of hard work with the joystick that you must put in to keep the ball.
The new collision system makes the gameplay look more realistic with robust challenges and there are more chances that the attacker will dispossess the ball.
The pace is a big thing now in FIFA 21. Players like Mbabpe, Messi and Alphonso Davies are almost impossible to catch once they escape the defensive line. The speed of the players feels more real compared to their real-life counterparts.
Also, the attacking AI has improved a lot and teammates get into attacking positions more often.
Goalkeepers AI is terrible this time around. In FIFA 20, it was almost impossible to get a 1v1 goal with the keeper in a legendary setting. However, in FIFA 21, 1v1s are easier and you’ll be able to get a placed-shot goal 6 times out of 10 even from distance. These are good odds.
The keepers are now mostly looking to parry the ball rather hold on to them which leads to multiple in-game errors giving the opponent a chance to score.
Player switching at times is terrible. Sometimes a player wouldn’t automatically switch even if the ball is the closest to him. And this problem is pervasive, be it if you’re playing single-player or co-ops.
Volta mode also gets a co-op mode and now you can move out of the simulation in Career Mode in the middle of the game. That transition is seamless.
A major part of the gameplay remains the same. In terms of graphics, there has been a slight upgrade with more realism in player expressions and celebrations.
No additions mode-wise and not that the game actually needed it. Career-mode in FIFA 21 still goes through the same old robotic process of player negotiations and interviews with templated optional responses.
There’s nothing new and exciting to look forward to but the fact you get to nurture talent at the academy level and also switch player positions as per your style of play gives you the option discover more player development options.
FIFA Ultimate Team is one of the key components of this game and one that gets EA most of its revenues. EA hasn’t fiddled a lot with this mode and there’s nothing that needs fixing the FUT. What I liked about FUT in FIFA 21 though is that you can now customise the size and the stadiums to your own choosing, which is great!
Should You Buy It?
FIFA 21 doesn’t add a lot of new elements to the gameplay and apart from player transfers and new kits, there’s not much to look forward to.
EA has done the hard work of fixing some of the errors and bugs in the game through regular patches but there are still more being discovered on a daily basis as players from all over the globe post videos of some glitch or the other on the internet. It’s not a perfect game and comes with its set of caveats.
If you like outthinking your opponent and are patient with your building up play you will like FIFA 21. The game has elements that you will enjoy but there’s very little to blow the trumpet about.
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