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As I make Timo Werner cheekily chip Hugo Lloris, I'm in awe of the graphical fidelity in FIFA 22. Compared to FIFA 2020 - the last game I played in the series - EA's latest title has achieved a remarkable level of visual realism. At least it does until minor glitches corrupt the imagery, creating distorted rectangles around the players' faces. And sure, close-up shots can sometimes feel more like a football match is taking place in the uncanny valley. What I'm saying is, there are ups and downs in FIFA 22, but the visuals are just the beginning.
Watch the trailer for FIFA 22 here
Look, I'm not saying FIFA 22 is the best-looking photorealistic game I've ever seen. However, it does look impressive when running on Xbox Series X. But the visuals aren't what's important here. When it comes to FIFA, it's all about the gameplay. Well, it's supposed to be.
When loading up FIFA 22 for the first time, the game throws you into the scenario of a talented young footballer who has inexplicably found a route to training at the Parc des Princes. You design your own player, and then run through the streets of Paris, learning core gameplay mechanics as you go.
When you reach the stadium - home of the star-studded Paris Saint-Germain - you play a more in-depth tutorial. During this segment, your character learns from young superstar Kylian Mbappé and footballing legend Thierry Henry. As awesome as this situation could've been, it's a bit awkward because neither player is voiced that well. I know they're not classically trained actors, but it would've been nice if they could sound a bit more interested.
Speaking of famous names, FIFA 22 seems quite keen on borrowing the star status of celebrities to enhance its own standing. The game opens with footage of ex-footballer, entrepreneur and Spice Girls fan David Beckham, which is fine. Weirdly, it then goes on to feature cameos from F1 driver Lewis Hamilton and professional boxer Anthony Joshua, both of whom look so unnaturally placed that you can almost see the shoehorn holding them in position.
I'm not saying the cultural elite don't enjoy football because we all know that's not true. What I take issue with here is it's just another example of focusing on the wrong part of the culture around the beautiful game. These apparent endorsements celebrate the financial side of the sport rather than the majesty of just playing the game. Then again, I suppose this is FIFA 22 perfectly capturing the reality of football.
Oh yeah, the gameplay. Well, there are certainly some welcome features in FIFA 22. Mechanics such as controlling players when they're off the ball feel slicker and more useful than ever. Knock-ons are easy to execute and have a risk-and-reward feel to them that ramps up the excitement. The tradeoff here is that if you try to sprint with the ball instead of using a knock-on, your player will stay at an agonisingly slow speed.
Even with the changes, FIFA 22 still feels like a FIFA game. Opposing teams are ruthless finishers on harder difficulties. Chipping the keeper is still virtually foolproof. The Manager Career mode is still a game of chance where your best player can knacker their cruciate during even the most innocuous of challenges. And all of this is, of course, why we play FIFA games. And I do mean "we".
FIFA 22 has a wide range of accessibility options. There are six different difficulty modes, meaning you're likely to find a level of gameplay that suits you. Then there are several options for colour vision deficiency, and the ability to make the player indicator larger. You can also remap inputs for when navigating the menus, and you're able to pick between several controller layouts when playing, including a single-button option. This latter mode means gameplay requires use of the left stick and A input (on Xbox), with the game picking the action it deems most suitable for you. While not perfect, it's good to see FIFA 22 offering options for players who need more accessibility in their games.
Overall, FIFA 22 is more or less what you'd expect from the latest title in such a series. In some areas it impresses, while in others it falls short. The visuals look better than ever and the accessibility options are relatively varied, but the imagery doesn't always hold up and the removal of the single-player mode 'The Journey' seems like a misstep from the developers. While it may not feel as innovative as previous instalments, FIFA 22 is still a worthy sports game that scratches your football itch.
Pros: plenty of replayability, impressive visuals, varied accessibility options
Cons: occasional visual issues, feels a little lacking in content, less groundbreaking than previous titles
For fans of: FIFA series, realistic football games, unnecessary celebrity cameos
FIFA 22 was tested on Xbox Series X with code provided by the publisher. The game releases on October 1, 2021 for PC, Xbox Series X/S, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch and Stadia. Find a guide to GAMINGbible's review scores here.
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