2015 Game of the Year Countdown #3: FIFA 16

You get the gist of the countdown by this point. The Tuesday post was late because I was working at a concession stand at a basketball game that went into three overtimes last night, I Know, I am Wrong, I am Sorry.



The pinnacle of sports simulation in 2015

It’s the stereotypical one sports game that makes it on my list for 2015! This year, it really, really wasn’t NBA 2K. I could write more about what disappointed me about NBA 2K16 in one mode (specifically the one mode I played) than I could on why I like FIFA 16, probably, but that only speaks poorly on anyone who thought You Literally Talk To A Ghost At One Point would be a good part of a basketball game.

EA’s player-specific career mode is a little more barebones than that, and doesn’t have Spike Lee’s endorsement, but where 2K16 didn’t improve very much at all over 2K15, FIFA 16 gave us an impressive jump in quality from 15, a game that was already very high quality.

I said in this video that I was at one point dedicated to Pro Evo, basically up until last year when I realized that Konami didn’t care whether it lived or died. I switched to FIFA over the summer, with the purchase of FIFA 15. Around the same time, I found myself inexplicably drawn to the sport, moreso than I ever had been before. I think it was a mix of having a few really good experiences at Sporting KC games, finding probably one of the few really good Reddit boards, the USWNT’s World Cup run and making friends with people who were really into soccer.

So that’s part of why FIFA stands out this year – soccer stands out this year (I found myself becoming a bigger soccer and college football fan this year despite the fact that logically I would have gravitated towards baseball and far, far away from football). The other reason is because this is an excellent sports sim.

Every good sport has a certain climactic moment. It’s different in almost any sport. I went to a basketball game a few years ago when a last-second shot sank my team. The emotions from that shot are so difficult to describe because it was the ultimate drop in mood from 70% of that auditorium, but an incredible excitement for the other 30%. You couldn’t describe the mood of that room in one word or one sentence because it was such a complex set of emotions that had run over that entire game.

Likewise, I went to a soccer match a few years ago that ran that same gamut of emotions, from an early lead blown to late desperation and penalties to decide the winner of the US Open Cup. I have a hard time trying to describe the feeling the end of that game very well, especially after the way it ended, with a former KC player missing a shot so badly that we assumed it missed the stands behind the goal entirely.

My point with both of those anecdotes is that those moments are hard to recreate properly, but they’re the most important moment in any sporting event. FIFA 16 managed to recreate moments like that with incredible accuracy. In a game in which I was down two goals to none and came back to take the lead, FIFA recreated the palpable rush from the home crowd and crazed celebrations of players. Then, when I promptly gave up a goal to bring the game back even in stoppage time, I could practically feel everything falling out of place, the disappointment, the agony that secretly holds the underlining of all sports together.

And yes, mechanically, this game is better than last year. It’s a really good simulation of soccer, but what’s more impressive to me is the way that it captures the essence of soccer in a video game.

So I am looking forward to what this franchise can bring me in the future. Don’t ruin this, EA.

Also, yeah, EA finally listened and this game became the first sports game to license women’s sports teams since NCAA March Madness 2001, (I guarantee I am the only person to research that) and featured MLS stadia to boot. Hopefully next year we’ll see some women’s club representation as well.

About Joe Bush

The guy behind JoeBush.net and a lot of other things
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