The stadiums are empty, the fields are clean and clear, and the fans are patiently waiting. What better way to enlighten and divulge into the spirit of sports and Football during a time when real life games are put into temporary limbo.
FIFA 2021 is a statement to the fans of the franchise. The design of its UI/UX, mechanics, and controls are heavily reliant on the steady know-how of its past players. There are no outright tutorials at the beginning of the game or no immediate guidance prompts—FIFA 2021 is a franchise that knows their fanbase well.
I am a longtime sports fan, Football and Basketball are tournaments and championships I never fail to miss. However, I did not get the opportunity to acquire a copy of the past installment of FIFA 2020. That said, I was lost for a few minutes into the menu trying to find the story mode or understand what exactly am I doing and accomplishing in the other modes.
A long effort of just playing game after game in career mode with no cutscene in sight nor outright feelings of accomplishment and progress, I found myself just curiously entering its Volta mode.
Volta in FIFA 2021 was what they renamed its story playthrough. Despite my initial “new-player moment” of having to find my way to it, I found Volta to be a true testament to what Football and sports in general is about: the glorious action of the streets.
Street Football is where the biggest of names have started. Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, and Neymar — top Football players in the entire world had once played in the streets of their hometown going from round after round and beating team to team.
You are prompted to elaborately create your own character. You may either play as Male or Female. The selections of how you want yourself to look—whether it’s copying your own real life self—is intricate. The options are abundant and the ability to adjust it gives wide freedom for players to be enhancive with their player creation
What I particularly love about Football is its active call to celebrate the game’s inclusiveness. It’s a game that celebrates diversity in gender and color. Volta lets you play in mixed Football matches. There are no singularly men’s or women’s leagues in the streets after all—it’s just people trying to play a game they love.
Throughout the story, you take on matches in various locations around the world. From Brazil to Japan, your team of diverse nationalities are competing for a spot in a prestigious invitational. The games in this mode are much shorter. Football is a tediously long game and to have the mechanics of street for quicker matches is a nice pace to move forward.
The difficulty, however, is amazing. The AI is intelligent and to challenge myself, I went into the average settings for a round only to find myself losing seven times. The shorter games are a blessing for me to be able to reply as many times as I can without feeling the tediousness of long runs and passes.
It is my responsibility to admit that completing the story itself has proved difficult for me, especially with my heightened difficulty (as prompted by the game), while doubled with an intelligent AI that understands your movements well.
The controls are easy to understand which makes learning the game a process that doesn’t feel overwhelming. The standards in sports video games: Square to shoot, R2 to run, X to pass, etc. These running mechanics are great for players very used to sports video games – whichever the sport may be.
Along with intelligent AI, is a proven evolution in the physics of both players and the ball. I love how the ball bounces from the walls and fences, allowing for great use of strategic physics. The facial expressions are also recognizably realistic. The cutscenes and closeups are wonderful to behold. It makes the sports-less world due to the pandemic a little bit bearable because of realistic gameplay and graphics like these.
With a new game, however, comes with the jarring bugs and glitches. There were numerous times where the goals would glitch in sporadic formations after being hit. I thought I accidentally broke the goal, as my opponents continued to try and score anyway.
There are times when players get stuck in motion, especially during kick-offs and fouls. They are not game-breaking glitches, thankfully – but it’s noticeably annoying.
Despite all that, it’s an enjoyable and challenging game that I am definitely going to try and sink more time into. I want to be able to get past the round I’ve been so painfully beaten by the AIs.
It’s beautiful and a lot of action for all sports lovers out there. As I’ve mentioned in the beginning of this review, FIFA 2021 is a true testament to every fan of the game in the world—and that’s hugely important for a sport well beloved.
FIFA 21 – Review
When the issues of a game are rolled and stomped by its greatness, then it’s something to invest on if you have some spare.