The FIFA franchise moves fully into the realm of next-gen console gaming with FIFA 22. Yes, last year's edition ended up getting a release on PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X|S, but the game came out before the consoles and the only real difference was a slight upgrade in graphics and gameplay. FIFA 22 feels like it was made for next-gen consoles and it certainly shows. While there are still some small AI hiccups and frustrating microtransactions leftover from previous years, FIFA 22 is a smoother and better-looking experience than ever before, setting a new visual standard for sports games.
A step up in the graphics department is expected for every franchise launching a new game on next-gen consoles. FIFA 22 went a little further than EA counterpart Madden 22, though, focusing on the smaller details like hair, facial expressions, hands, and feet. When you combine the fine-tuning of those little things with the overall upgrade that next-gen engines provide, you've got a game that looks absolutely stunning, especially in 4K.
The graphic update isn't enough to justify paying up for a new sports game, especially with the increased prices of next-gen games, and that's where Hypermotion comes in. FIFA 22 uses groundbreaking Hypermotion technology to make all of the movements and actions of the players feel smoother and a lot more realistic. Instead of recording a couple of real players on a pitch performing different kicks and tackles, Hypermotion allowed FIFA to record animations and data from full 11-on-11 games. The developers claimed that this tech resulted in more than 4,000 new in-game animations and I honestly wouldn't be surprised if that estimate was too conservative. Slide tackles feel natural just about every time. Passes feel less rigid. Hypermotion has really made a massive difference.
The actual games and options within FIFA 22 are largely the same as last year, though more emphasis on Volta has made that an even more exciting experience. The career modes can be a little frustrating at times, but they're not bogged down by sloppy stories or poorly animated cut-scenes like other sports games. These modes are all about playing soccer, nothing else. That said, the intro the game itself does offer a little in the way of story and it's done really well. It's enough to show off how good the game looks and provide something interesting outside of a menu for players to see when they fire it up for the first time.
If you're a big Ultimate Team player, you're probably still going to get bothered by microtransactions. FIFA, like every other sports game on the market, has yet to do something about the pay-to-win mechanics that bring the Ultimate modes down. It's disappointing, to say the least. But it's only one game mode, and it certainly didn't take a step backward this year.
If you're playing on current-gen systems, FIFA 22 may be a bit of a harder sell. The game itself is largely the same as last year, It's the next-gen graphics and gameplay that really make the game stand out. On next-gen, it's a must for longtime FIFA players. For everyone else, it's more of a personal choice. You certainly won't be missing out on much if you wait a little while.
Rating: 4 out of 5
FIFA 22 is now available for PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, Nintendo Switch, and PC. A digital review code was provided by the publisher, and it was reviewed on a PlayStation 5.