Fifa 21 is a mediocre farewell match | Review

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As soon as a new generation of game consoles is introduced, EA usually only releases ‘Legacy Editions’ of Fifa, in which only the latest transfers are made. Fifa 21 could just be the last full Fifa on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. However, it did not become a flashy farewell match.

Numerically, Fifa 21 has enough innovations under the hood. With the possibility to play FUT in co-op and considerable adjustments to the career mode, you would say that EA listens to the supporters. But in the end the gameplay determines how much fun Fifa is and the innovations in that area do not come out at all.

Hollywood football

Take the possibility to control players without a ball. On paper a great way to set up beautiful one-twos. But as the old football wisdom goes: we don’t play on paper, but on grass. In practice it turns out to be virtually impossible to make a decent running action without a ball. That is not a matter of getting used to: playing to a computer-controlled teammate makes it far too easy for the opponent to put pressure and take the ball away. The pace of Fifa is simply too high for such tactical feats.

Fifa 21 is therefore reverting to old habits. Pure speed is still far too important and the game mainly takes place around the two target areas, with exorbitant results as a result. Fifa 21 is sensation, glamor and “boom cuckoo confetti”, to use the words of Sierd de Vos. It’s Messi and Ronaldo, but it’s rarely Luuk de Jong or Wout Weghorst.

That Hollywood version of football has nothing to do with ‘real’ football. After all, real football is building up from behind, fighting in midfield and fumbling a ball into a match you should never have won. Real football is sometimes ugly. Let’s face it: just taste ugly victories in real football infinitely sweeter than just another goal-scoring feast.

Fifa 21

You would almost understand all preschoolers who ‘ragequit’ online. What do you still have to look for in a match if you are 3-0 behind within 20 minutes? Nothing; there is no more honor to be had there. You might as well take your loss and try again in a next match.

Career mode as an unexpected bright spot

Or seek refuge in a different game mode where more happens off the field, because that is perhaps more entertaining than entering the virtual turf – an observation that makes you think about a football game. In Fifa Ultimate Team, for example, you can now build and work on your own stadium, but the main change we find this year against all odds in the career mode.

Normally the career mode is always a bit neglected, but the possibility to simulate matches interactively gives the mode in this edition finally the much-needed schwung again. In practice, it turns out to be wonderful to settle the less exciting matches in a season in this way. It gives the opportunity to keep an eye on all low-flyers in the competition, without having to play the entire match right away.

fifa 21

The addition of ‘sharpness’ as an extra statistic per player also provides an extra layer. Players who have a lot of sharpness get bonus points and therefore perform better. A long-term injury therefore has much more impact, because such a player really has to fight himself back in the first team. After all, his replacement probably has more competition sharpness and is therefore better at that time. Unlike in beta, training to improve that sharpness can now also be simulated faster, making the career mode less hassle.

The career mode is not completely perfect yet. For example, it feels very unnecessary that matches are still paused when you want to change your line-up from the interactive simulation. You would say that the game can just continue for an even smoother course. It is also remarkable that there is not one Dutch person in the youth academy of a Dutch club. Those points can therefore already be on the to do list for Fifa 22.

Hope for the new generation

The more mature career mode, FUT and of course the immense amount of teams and leagues have enough to sing it out until the new generation of game consoles is in the shops and therefore also the new generation of Fifa. It is hoped that EA will pay more attention to that version and look at what football is all about. In the words of Johan Cruijff, this is “Salid y disfrutad”, or “Go outside and enjoy”. That enjoyment does not come from playing high-octane football for 90 minutes over and over again, but winning or losing with joy and sorrow.

Fifa 21 will be available on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC and Nintendo Switch from October 9. The Switch version is a Legacy Edition with no gameplay updates. Fifa 21 will also later appear on PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X | S.





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