First impressions aside, this is the same game as last year. I’m saying that right out the gate because you shouldn’t have to search for that information throughout all the bullshit you read in reviews today. I grew up a fan of soccer and it’s my favorite sport to this day. With that being said, the only two soccer simulation options we have, I must say are depressing to say the least. Last year is similar to this year in that we expected a lot from the FIFA franchise. The first impressions of the game were that the in-game mechanics and overall fluidity of the game had changed pretty drastically. This gave me hope, at first that the game was finally different and changes were made that would excite current fans of the franchise and bring new ones on board as well. This is no longer true after playing the 10 hour trial of FIFA 21. This really is the same game as FIFA 20 and It’s a shame that when reviewing EA titles, we here at Rahl Reviews sound like a broken record each year.
Right out of the gate, you’ll notice the menu design is clunky and all over the place. It looks like a child made it. It’s a copy and pasted menu system that’s similar to previous years. EA continues to make their menus look like a giant eye sore and I have absolutely no idea why. The simpler the menu design, the better.
After you’ve gotten to where you want to go, you’ll notice that not only is the menu pretty much the same, but the game modes are as well. Volta has been brought back again this year, allowing you the option to play a street-style soccer simulation that, in my opinion, is more enjoyable than the main game modes. Although it’s more enjoyable, that doesn’t mean it is enjoyable. I noticed immediately that the mode was going to play out very similar to last year. Last year you had options to play a story and/or compete online, but now you have the option to do that again, but at newly designed locations! That’s a joke, because no one cares that you changed the color of the turf and called it London Yard (or some shit), or made more levels where the ball can go flying over into the neighbor’s backyard, creating more time for you to have to wait before being able to actually play the game. Once you’re diving into the mode and looking around for what’s new, you’ll notice that the gear has changed and the cosmetic items are different than last year. Issue with this is that there aren’t many options and the options you do have are childish and honestly aren’t anything I care to put on my character. I was content with a long sleeve shirt and pants to match compared to all the bedazzled outfits that the majority of players would shy away from. After looking through the terrible menu design for the cosmetic items that aren’t even worth selecting, you can venture on to look at the other modes to complete or rewards to earn. You’ll have the option to do a Drop-In-Game, or you can play Solos. You’ll be able to play the CPU or go up against human controlled characters in 3v3 or 5v5 matches. All game modes share the same Win/Loss, so when you lag out in Drop-In mode, don’t worry because you’ll more than likely lag out and get a ranked loss in the Solo mode as well!
The in-game mechanics are the biggest change this year. They’re a change that, like all changes, pull you in from the beginning and make you think the game actually has some substance to it this year – A reason to go out and actually spend $60-100 for a sports game that will be “different” for a change. Turns out that feeling only lasts about an hour. You’ll soon realize that the extra player moves, alongside the different physic movements of the players, are sometimes more of an issue than an enjoyment. You’re now able to have a fluidity with your player that you never had before. I noticed in previous FIFA games your character felt very flat and your player movements were forced based off their one-dimensional character designs instead of having the option to freestyle their movements like they do in real life. This new physics engine, alongside the new player moves, will end up being the reason you dislike the game rather than enjoy it. It’s very overpowering and anyone with the skills to volley will have an opportunity to dance around a whole team before easily scoring on AI controlled players that continue to perform terribly. Please don’t allow reviews talking about the mechanics to sway you into purchasing the game this year. If you’re sick of playing the same game, you will be playing the same game again this year. You have what we call a “Glorified Roster Update”, which isn’t a good thing.
The limbo that fans of sports games go through each year is that they’re just one voice among many. They feel as though their opinion is trumped by the fact that EA Sports is a low-key monopoly. Fans are now under the impression that they shouldn’t complain or boycott the franchise because they feel like there’s no other options, so suck it up… right? Well, that’s true, and it has also been true for myself. I used to be a huge fan of all EA Sports titles, but that was till about 2014 and then the games continued to be a copy and pasted piece of shit. I am now comfortably at a point where I won’t buy the games anymore even if I know it means I won’t be playing that updated title for the year. I pay $30/year for the EA Player Hub and I have access to all EA games a few days early for a maximum of 10 hours. I now have the opportunity to see that the game hasn’t changed for my liking and then continue to do this moving forward in order to better decide if it’s best to purchase the game now or just wait. My opinion on this year’s FIFA 21 is that it’s the same game and I’m tired of it. The fans, and the soccer fans as a whole, are tired of it. We deserve for an AAA title sports franchise to have a competent development team that doesn’t think that minor tweaks are enough. We need a complete overhaul of the game and we need something way more enjoyable than the garbage we’ve been told to buy every single year. If you’re content with a roster update and slight changes that don’t alter the game too much, then go out and buy it. Otherwise, wait till next year when EA Sports has a new console to cater to and, with that, hopefully an overhaul of the franchise!