FIFA 16 is the latest entry in the incredibly popular annual football title from EA Sports and as usual it offers a selection of upgrades, improvements, changes and new features. In the case of FIFA, the game has become more and more realistic each year and the most recent entry continues that pattern of improvement.

Of course, one of the most talked-about additions to the game before its release was the presence of women’s teams for the first time in FIFA. Unfortunately, this feature is a lot more restricted than we initially thought. Women’s international teams can only be used in the tournament and free play modes, so, they feel like a contained subsection of the main game, rather than something which has been fully integrated. A glaring example of this is the absence of the ability to create a female player in Career Mode. However, I presume that we will see more integration with other game modes in FIFA 17, as I presume the addition of women’s teams is quite a big undertaking from a development perspective. It is also apparent that not a lot of time was spent on creating player models for the female players, as they sport significantly less detail than their male counterparts. This is disappointing as the game looks stunning in every other way.

Another big addition to FIFA 16 this year is the introduction of an advanced system of dribbling off the ball. Now, by holding LB/L1, you can fake dribble to send defenders the wrong way in order to open up a path through the defence. This is another example of the slow addition of new features annually to FIFA which completely change the gameplay. In FIFA 16, this feature has added a new level of realism to the game which brings it even closer to a perfect emulation of the real thing. Outside of this, it is clear some minor tweaks have been made to the physics which has heavily reduced the number of minor glitchy textures and bugs present, in my opinion. Apart from that, EA haven’t got much to change as the gameplay in FIFA has been pretty much spot on for years, so, FIFA 16 remains as reliable, fun and polished as ever.

Of course, the fan-favourite Ultimate Team mode is back, allowing you to purchase packs of randomly generated player cards in exchange for either cash or in-game currency. Of course, cash is by far the fastest option to get packs and as usual, coins are earned by selling existing players, quick selling cards and playing games online. You can play single matches or setup tournaments online in Ultimate Team in order to earn coins. Very little changes have been made to Ultimate Team outside of the gameplay engine tweaks mentioned before, however, the online servers appear to be more reliable this year as I have experienced less lag and have found it easier to connect to the mode this year.

However, a new variation to the Ultimate Team format has been included in this year’s entry. Ultimate Team Draft allows you to quickly build a team from a group of cards presented to you which you can then use to play online with for four matches. So, if you aren’t up for splashing the cash to build a world class Ultimate Team, FUT Draft will give you the ability to assemble a formidable team for four games without any additional charge. I am a big fan of this new game mode as Ultimate Team always seemed too expensive for the return to me.

In terms of the UI, FIFA 16 looks largely similar to FIFA 15 from the front-end, with the metro-style tiled interface still being used in the user interface. I personally am a big fan of this design as I find the menus easy to navigate, clean and modern. From a graphical perspective, FIFA 16 looks incredible. Year on year, EA Sports manage to make the game look better and better and this year is no exception. The (male) player models look excellent, the stadiums are brought to life with vivid, accurate representations of the pitches and stands and player animations are fantastic. One big thing I noticed is that textures glitch far less than they did in the past; something which is very difficult to get perfect from a development perspective.

Unfortunately, the commentary in FIFA 16 suffers from the repetitiveness and occasional unsuitability which past games in the series have suffered from, however, the level of dynamic commentary which would be needed to emulate real-life football commentary would be incredibly difficult to achieve. It would be nice however if EA Sports could increase the catalogue of phrases available within the game a lot further than they have done already.

Overall, however, FIFA 16 is the best football experience currently available on the market. While it may have a few flaws, FIFA 16 brings us closer again to absolute realism in a football game while still delivering an experience as fun as ever.