Opinion

FIFA 22 Review: Gameplay, FUT, Career Mode, Pro Clubs & More

FIFA 22 | Official Reveal Trailer
FIFA 22 | Official Reveal Trailer / EA SPORTS FIFA
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Now I don't know about you, but I'm getting a little bit older.

The job's busy, the world's opening up again after lockdown, you're actually able to see people and starting to lose time again as a result. It's a good thing, of course, but it means there's not quite as much of an opportunity to spend days on end playing a video game - especially if you're 32 with a job and commitments.

I've missed the boat to get in to the gaming profession and actually be any good, so you could probably throw that 'casual gamer' tag on my head nowadays and I'd accept it.

The trouble in recent years has been finding a football game to go with it. FIFA 21 started with promise but lost me, but it feels different this year - EA Sports FIFA 22 is about to drop and a noticeable improvement in gameplay has reeled me right in. So let's dig in.


Gameplay

Last year's game felt same-as-ever. But it's noticeable just how much more real the game feels this year - almost like there's more to it than just passing it to the fast one up front and running through time after time to score. Yes, I have been burned online too many times and I'm sour about it.

It feels like football. There's more focus on team build up play, the tempo is slower and your best chances of success are to pass the ball around and work openings, much like how you'd need to do it in real life. I'd jumped straight in expecting the old methods to work, using experience from previous editions, but it was only when I started to slow down myself that the success came.

There's plenty of opportunity to create chances and score goals the right way, and it's refreshing.

With it comes simple little tips and tricks you can easily add to your game when in possession; it's easy to bring players close to you to support and offload, while you can use L1 (PS) to alert players to go forward - do so by pushing the right analog in the direction desired afterwards.

And yes if you'd still like to unleash the burners, you can double tap R2 and launch the ball right out in front of you for a foot race.

HyperMotion has been introduced this year and brings with it 4,000 new animations in situations all over the pitch, and you can see the differences everywhere - from shoulder challenges to shots on goal and subsequent celebrations. It's a welcome and noticeable improvement.


Career Mode

The old favourite has got an upgrade - you can now create a club and bring them to life.

I've personally been after a feature like this for years. The Greens FC live again (long story, borne out of hours of play time on a foosball table in sixth form with the blue team) complete with custom kit, custom crest and a brand new stadium. You can pop your club in whichever league you like and choose their status too.

If you want to compete for titles or start at the bottom of the ladder and work your way up, you can do so. You'll have a brand new squad generated, and while the downside is you can't customise the players themselves it certainly adds an extra element to the managerial career. Once created though, it plays out like it would with any other team.

There's a boost to the player career with animations and the like, but these are smaller little differences that might keep you going. There's no reason for you to lose the loyalty this year if career mode is your preferred method.


Ultimate Team

If you're still ploughing your hours and real-life coins into FUT, there's enough of an upgrade this year to keep you on track. Division Rivals now rewards actual playing time rather than your success in matches, so it's a little more friendly for your average player. There's also a top table to still play at, and FUT Champions is now split between play offs and finals.

And if you're still ploughing your hours and real-life coins into FUT, at least this year you'll be able to hit preview a big fat one pack each day, telling you what you'll get if you buy it. It's really not much. Plenty of users will still drop serious cash with little justification in the end...which doesn't sit comfortably with most.

Cafu, Wayne Rooney & Robin van Persie are among the new icons you can get this year though, and you can bet this will remain as popular as ever.


Pro Clubs

Another old favourite which we've been crying out for upgrades on for time has got a significant one this year - with the ability to create female virtual pros for the first time. It's a great move to see both male and female players on the pitch without any gameplay impact.

Generally though, the Pro Clubs mode has gotten a bit of an overhaul looks wise, but again without much else. The guys at 90min have been rinsing this in recent editions and while we'll wait to see if the gameplay and AI has improved over the first few weeks of release, there's not too much else to hang your hat on outside of developing your pro in different ways.

You can now earn perks, which allow you to refine your playing style - you can unlock up to 32 and assign three.


FIFA 22 overall rating: 8.5/10

It's worth an improved score this year.

FIFA 22's gameplay is the big feature which makes it far more accessible and welcoming for all types of player. The pace attribute which has dominated previous iterations of the game feels more in balance, and not quite as dominant, with players having to go about their game in the right way to be successful. It's much more in line with real-life football.

It might not suit you if you're of the generation that loves winning matches 8-5 and it's one end to another, but I'll be honest - I'm not that good any more, so want a chance. I feel like I have one.

EA Sports have really put the work in this year to improve the most important aspect, after a few years of decline - and they've managed it. Time to get stuck in.

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