As openings go, FIFA 22 has the most lavish for the footie franchise yet. It's an intro that does a number of things. At its most basic it gets you to try out a number of moves that will be key to your games going forward.
It's also a showcase of just how good the graphics look in the game. We are playing FIFA 22 on the PS5 and the intro is stunning, nailing the Parisian suburbs where it's set with a number of brilliant details.
And, finally, the intro is an advertisement of FIFA's star power. In a year when its biggest rival PES has disappeared, reborn as a messy free-to-play anomaly, FIFA is revelling in its star status, bringing the likes of David Beckham, Kylian Mbappé and Thierry Henry along for the ride.
Before the games starts officially, it manages to get you to create a player, help them train for their first game and before you know it you are playing a friendly between Chelsea and PSG. It's brilliant, exhilarating stuff and makes you pine for a true football RPG.
As for the rest of the game, here are 5 things to know about FIFA 22...
1. FIFA 22 truly looks next gen
FIFA 22's graphics are stunning. We initially played as Chelsea and seeing Stamford Bridge on the screen was almost identical to seeing it in real life. Yes, the crowd still needs a little work (the same as Stamford Bridge, then, we hear you cry) but there are some superb details, from reflections in the rain to shadows in the dugouts. It's not just the massive mural welcoming Romelu Lukaku back to the Bridge (which is a lovely touch) but the detail of the players, the ripples in their shirts, the shine of sweat.
EA Sports calls all this HyperMotion and have been keen to point out that the likes of mo-cap have been used to make things as realistic as possible. Whatever they have done, it works and it isn't just improving the graphics, either.
2. Gameplay improvements are welcomed but subtle
There's still a tremendous amount of skills you can use on the pitch. We're no FIFA experts, so much of our game is usually made up of fake shots and a few step overs, but if you really want to did into the techniques, then there's the new Four Touch Turn (which helps with both space and angles), the Skilled Bridge which is like a fancy fake shot and a The First Time Spin which is pretty easy to do and will have your opponent tackling thin air.
Other features including Explosive Sprint really adds a new depth to a game, especially when you are using speedy wingers and Icon Switch is a really nice way to start choosing the players and the passes you want to achieve, rather then blindly just hoofing the ball.
3. Career mode has a fantastic new addition
The ability to create a club in career mode is brilliant fun. It really adds to the drama of building a football career and you will spend hours figuring out your team's crest, the kit they play in and so on. This is all brilliantly punctuated by having Alex Scott available on commentary.
While there's still niggles to be found - this certainly isn't Football Manager - we really like the new tweaks to the game and feel like there's finally some life in Career Mode that will shift people away from the lustre of Ultimate Team.
4. Volta is very nearly the FIFA Street game we all want
We're so close to FIFA Street with Volta this year that we are a little annoyed that FIFA didn't just go the whole hog and create the game within this game.
This time around there is a lack of a story mode - the intro pretty much acts as this - but it's a great place to pretend you are a footballing superhero, with some pretty absurd special powers - especially when you have filled up your Skill Meter.
These Signature Abilities include Power Strike ( which offers a 50% shot power boost), Pure Pace (boosts your speed to ridiculous levels), and Aggressive Tackle (which allow some awesome slide tackles).
One of the best bits of Volta is restricted to the weekends when you can play party games online, including the likes of Foot Tennis, Dodgeball, Disco Lava and Wall Ball Elimination. These mini games are fantastic and we wish they are always available.
5. Ultimate Team is what it is
The biggest change to Ultimate Team is shifting it to seasons (much like all online games right now). Basically, after each season your progress will be reset to a point. Loading times have shrunk, too, given that you don't have to really wait because of the way the PS5 loads games.
Micro-transactions are still very much the order of the day but at least you get to preview your card packs now. It all still feels a little icky to us - and you will have to spend a lot of time (and money) building your team - but we did really like the new Hero cards that pay tribute to iconic footballing moments.
FIFA 21 review: Final Verdict
If you are lucky enough to play FIFA 22 on a next-gen console then you are gifted with the most realistic FIFA game ever made. The HyperMotion technology used is just fantastic, adding in animations never seen before in a FIFA game and layering a sense of realism over every game you play. It's just superb.
Away from this, the tweaks are small but necessary - they also leave you wanting more. Career mode's new create a team is fantastic fun but it falls short of a proper management sim; Volta is very nearly FIFA Street but doesn't go far enough; Ultimate Team is a cash grab - a bloody good one but still a cash grab.
And then there's the standard FIFA: slower and more assured than ever, it's a makeover that's jaw dropping in places, proving there is still a lot of life left in this franchise.Buy FIFA 22 from Amazon now.
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