Title: FIFA 21
Format: PC, PS4, Stadia, Switch, Xbox One
Developer: EA Canada
Publisher: Electronic Arts
ESRB Rating: E (Everyone)
Release Date: Oct. 9, 2020
The Grade: B+
FIFA 21 Haiku Review
You’ll never walk alone dude
Jump in from a sim
What is it? The 28th installment of what is likely the most popular video game series on the planet. A game known for its consistency, EA Sports has once again stuck the ball in the back of the net with “FIFA 21.”
The Good: EA’s yearly sports franchises are always solid games, but few have had the high level of success of the FIFA series. “FIFA 21” is no different, taking what worked so well in “FIFA 20” and adding a myriad of refinements to make yet another excellent title.
The Volta Tour, where you compete against an AI and can steal players from teams you beat, has returned and has a number of upgrades. One of the most welcome is the addition of Volta Squads, which allows you to play together with up to three friends and compete against other teams in 5v5 matches.
Because I’m a sucker for a good sports story, I also got a kick out of The Debut, this year’s narrative-based introduction into Volta. At 2-3 hours it’s quite short but I enjoy the goofy interactions among the characters and it’s a good excuse to have your customized avatar become involved with some of the biggest names in the sport.
“FIFA 21’s” career mode, where I spend most of my time, has also been given a makeover. Player development has been modified, giving gamers more control over how their squad is organized. You can move players to different positions, fill gaps in your roster and monitor player attribute changes. The new Interactive Match Sim feature is incredibly useful. This allows you to sim a game then stop the sim and jump in whenever you want at any point in the game. This is a major time saver, works smoothly and is a fantastic addition. This is available in career mode as a manager. Hopefully an update will implement it for player careers as well.
Other notable changes include the addition of co-op in FIFA Ultimate Team, improved dribbling controls and more creative ways to start a run. Opposing defenses are also noticeably tougher and more intuitive this season, which makes games more competitive and more enjoyable.
The Bad: The saying, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” certainly applies to “FIFA 21.” As one of the best and most consist video game franchises, this is a title that doesn’t need an overhaul, usually just a tuneup and a new paint job work just fine. That said, while I certainly like the refinements EA Vancouver has made in this year’s iteration, “FIFA 21” plays it safe.
When it comes to yearly sports titles, I want to see some ambitious moves. The Journey was ambitious and Volta was ambitious, but that was new last year. There’s no big gamble or game changer this season. Don’t get me wrong, this is an excellent game that soccer fans will love. But sports fans always love watching someone swing for the fences.
The Grade: When it comes to finding a winning formula, the “FIFA” series has it down to a science. Once again this franchise manages to give fans what they want, while making refinements and small tweaks that make for a better all-around experience. If you’re a fan of soccer, “FIFA 21” is a must own.
Gazette Media Columnist Terry Terrones is a veteran video game journalist. He has written for numerous publications including GamePro, GamesBeat, PC World, VentureBeat, and Official Xbox Magazine. You can follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/terryterrones.