FIFA 21 Review
Updated: Nov 26, 2020
This game has Eric Cantona in it - 10/10.
Okay, according to our editor, a review of the latest installment of EA Sport's FIFA franchise needs to have more detail than that.
EA's FIFA franchise has been an annual event for football fans around the world, usually timed to coincide with the start of the new football season in the majority of footballing nations. This year being what it is, it arrived a little later than normal. Often gamers would say that FIFA can be too free flowing and high scoring compared to the real game, but seeing some of the scores in the Premier League this year turns that notion on its head.
FIFA has traditionally been seen as the game of choice for those who enjoy football on the television - the slick commentary, excellent soundtrack and copying of TV stations 'Coming up, after the break' links and this year is no different in this regard.
The players and kits continue to improve - long banished to memory are any plastic skinned models of yore. From certain angles the game could be mistaken for a live TV match. Stadiums are represented beautifully and in the Ultimate Team mode you can further personalise your club stadium to make it your own. My personal favourite is the giant Squirrel TIFO that you can add behind the goal.
The new commentary duo, Derek Rae and Lee Dixon, is certainly a very natural commentary combination but they don't appear to have the wide vocabulary and patter as the outgoing Martin Tyler and Alan Smith, meaning that you might start to hear repeated phrases more often.
The presentation draws you in to the game, helping it to feel more like the football you know and love. But it is how the game handles that sets it apart this year.
FIFA 21's new precision control system for receiving the ball allows for more fluid player control and more natural actions when receiving a pass or looking to evade a tackle. The flow of the game accurately reflects the current style in the EPL. A deft touch of the right stick can sell a dummy to an onrushing defender and put you clean through on goal. It is a nice addition and makes a welcome change from the 'stuck to your foot' or 'pinball' control of the ball in much older versions of the game.
There are more competitions, tournaments and modes than ever before. From the competitions, career mode and online modes there is something for everyone. Even if you are hankering for a 3v3 kickabout in FIFA Street style 'VOLTA' football, it is there for you.
Women's football continues to be represented by only an international tournament for a select number of countries. It would be nice to see this expand further with inclusion of some club competitions.
Admittedly, as a lifelong Manchester United fan the inclusion of King Eric as a Legend encouraged me to once again dip my toes into the Tactics and Transfer mode that is FIFA Ultimate Team (aka. FUT).
This year the mode is definitely more welcoming, easing the new player in with simple tasks and introductions to help make sense of the Chemistry or the Red and Green lines (no, not the Luas). Starting with your squad battles in single player allows you to hone your team, picking the formation and players that work well for how you play, earning virtual coins to improve your squad -- and then venture out into the real world. This can at times be a humbling experience for the casual player, like myself, who cannot dedicate the hours to perfecting their squad and play style. However, I would encourage you to stick with it, as eventually it will level off and you will be matched against players of a similar skill and you'll find yourself enjoying the strategic games against your opponent and eventually work your way up through the divisions.
If you want to try to improve your squad, it is possible to by player packs for real-world cash, but the random nature of the FUT packs means that you are not guaranteed to get the item or player that you really wanted.
Overall, my time with FIFA 21 has been extremely enjoyable. The game is fun in Single Player or Multiplayer and there are enough things to do that will keep you coming back for '... Just one more game.'
Updated ball handling and first touch
More game modes than you can shake a stick at.
Fluid playstyles in the football
More accessible entry to FIFA Ultimate Team
Beautiful graphics, Fluid Presentation
Commentary can loop back more than in previous versions
Random FUT packs / Loot Boxes
Games can be a bit too high scoring (but this is true of the Premier League this season, so turns out to be an accurate representation in FIFA 21)
Next Gen notice
FIFA 21 arrives as one console generation comes to a close and a new one is being ushered in with the forthcoming Xbox Series X, Xbox Series S and the PlayStation 5. Players who purchase FIFA 21 on a current-gen console (PS4, XBox One) will receive a dual entitlement for the game - meaning that if they buy a next gen system that they will receive the next gen version of the game at no extra cost - while also preserving your game progress. We'll update our review to talk about the Next-Gen updates when they arrive.
Note: We received a review copy of FIFA 21 on Xbox One and Xbox Series X|S from EA for the purpose of this review.