Just like the beginning of the new season, EA Sports’ release of their new FIFA video game series sends football fans across the globe into raptures – and this year’s issue is no different!
After their previous title, FIFA 15, was crowned the best-selling game in the United Kingdom last year with a total of 2.66 million units bought before the close of 2014, EA Sports rolled out the red carpet inside Fulham Broadway’s Gfinity Arena this week to reveal their latest installment in FIFA 16.
The video game giants were joined by some of English football’s renowned gamers, including former England defender Rio Ferdinand, Liverpool full-back Nathaniel Clyne, Swansea City captain Ashley Williams, Tottenham defender Kyle Walker and AFC Wimbledon striker Adebayo Akinfenwa, as eight special guests took part in the esteemed Celebrity Cup.
FIFA 16 hits the shelves on Thursday September 24 with a whole host of brand new features, including a brand new training system in career mode, friendly tournament features, transfer window and budget improvements, plus the referee’s amusing use of the vanishing spray during specified matches.
But this year’s biggest introduction is the fact that FIFA 16 is the first in its 22-year history to include female footballers, with 12 women’s national teams being added to over 650 playable squads in the game, including Steph Houghton’s England following their bronze medal heroics at the FIFA Women’s Cup this summer.
Alongside the title’s new in-game features, McBusted guitarist Danny Jones believes the overall gameplay has been adjusted as well.
“I found it a lot slower,” said Jones.
“You have to keep possession a bit more and find space because you keep getting stuck in corners.
“It always takes a while to get used to I think. It takes a good few weeks on the tour bus to really get the hang of it.”
Premier League stars Walker and Williams also agreed that FIFA is constantly improving year in year out, as each title’s new release challenges players to improve upon their gaming ability, tactics and strategy.
Walker said, “I think it is getting better each year.
“Last year was a lot on the pace of the players. But this year, in the game that we played, you can see that it is not all about pace. It is about being good at the game which helps as well.”
Williams, who defeated fellow defender Walker in the opening round of the tournament, added: “I think the main thing is that it looks great.
“It looks really realistic on the players and the way they move. It resembles football really well.”
FIFA 16 is also the first title in the global game series in which the players on the covers were chosen by popular vote, with England and Liverpool midfielder Jordan Henderson crowned as the UK and Ireland version’s poster boy.
After his Three Lions and Tottenham team-mate Harry Kane was among the nominees, Walker said: “Harry had had a fantastic season last season. But obviously I have played with Jordan at England and I think he fully deserves to be on the front.”
However, one star who was slightly disgruntled with his personal statistics on FIFA 16 was the ‘world’s strongest footballer’ Akinfenwa.
“I have seen my stats and I wasn’t too impressed with my speed,” admitted Akinfenwa, who can bench-press an astonishing 180kg.
“I have been working hard on the training ground to get a little bit faster and increase my speed.
“But then they upped my strength stat, so I can’t really [hold a] grudge against them”.
The Wimbledon hitman, who has an unprecedented 98 strength ranking on FIFA 16, also admitted he is honoured to be labelled as the video game’s strongest player.
“For me, I think it is a great honour,” Akinfenwa added.
“I don’t think there are many League Two players here, so for myself, it is a privilege to be in the company of these Premier League players and people that are at the elite of their game.
“It is an honour. But I take it real in the gym. I work hard at it and work hard on my physique and fitness.
“I don’t want nobody taking my title, so I am going to keep going hard and keep eating chicken!”
Meanwhile, winger Jason Puncheon admitted FIFA is always a popular talking and playing point within the Crystal Palace dressing room, although some players can take it too seriously.
When asked which teammate is most likely to throw their toys out of the pram, Puncheon replied, “Wilfried Zaha. Hands down. He takes FIFA very seriously!
“He doesn’t like to lose. If he does, then it is the controller’s fault.
“But he is the best on the whole. The worst is probably Dwight Gayle.”
FIFA 16 is out Thursday September 24 and is available on Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, Xbox One, Android and iOS.