Another year, another Fifa football simulation video game by Electronic Arts (EA). This year, it is Fifa 20, the 27th installment of this long and successful franchise.
At times, I wonder what else EA can do to add to this game. For Fifa 20, the main new feature is the Volta Football mode, which allows you to play street football.
You can be playing three-vs-three on top of a skyscraper in Tokyo or five-vs-five in front of spectators in a huge stadium in Bueno Aires. It is a nice change from the usual 11-vs-11 matches and answers the fans' call for street football.
The point of street football is always more about the flashy flicks and fancy tricks.
The usual tactics in 11-vs-11 matches do not apply here. For example, you can use the walls in some venues to bounce off a pass.
Volta mode is also where you find Fifa 20's story mode, which replaces The Journey story mode which started in Fifa 17.
The Volta story mode is quite short, lasting at most six hours. Your character, named Revvy, joins a team coached by legendary street footballer Jayzinho and you work your way to become a legend yourself.
• New street football mode
• Better player and ball physics
• Plenty of teams and kits
• Cringeworthy story mode
• Ridden with small bugs
PRICE: $79.90 (PS4; PC; Xbox One, version tested)
GENRE: Football simulation
I will not spoil the story for you but I think the plot-line is a tad ridiculous. Plus, the voice acting of the cast, which includes Jayzinho himself and freestyle football champion Kotaro Tokuda, come across as quite forgettable to me.
In fact, I just wanted to finish the story after a while, so that I could enter the street football tournaments and leagues in the Volta mode with the team from the story.
I was disappointed that the character one creates in Volta mode cannot be used in the main 11-vs-11 game modes, like the Career mode.
The familiar Career, Ultimate Team (UT) and Champions League modes are back.
The Career mode, in which you play as a player or a manager, now lets you interact more with players and conduct press conferences as a manager. But do not expect the Football Manager kind of depth.
The UT mode lets you create your own team, customise the kits, assemble your desired players and lead them to glory. The Champions League mode lets you play teams like Liverpool or Barcelona in the current season.
Regardless of the modes, you will be awed by the superb graphics. The players' faces, tattoos and jerseys are faithfully reproduced, as are the stadiums and lighting effects during matches.
Apart from Juventus, which is now exclusive to Fifa arch rival Pro Evolution Soccer, there are plenty of licensed teams and leagues, complete with the right jerseys and logos, to play in.
In terms of presentation, Fifa 20 feels like last year's game. Even the commentators are saying the same things.
Thankfully, once the match starts, you can feel the difference in gameplay. In the past, a speedy winger like Mo Salah could be caught by a slow defender like Harry Maguire. Not anymore.
This makes defending a tad harder. Furthermore, pressing the standing tackle-button no longer lets you easily nick the ball from the opposing player. It is more about positioning and keeping the defensive shape that helps you defend better against the speedy players.
On the other hand, ball physics has become a tad too realistic. Initially, you will find players having too heavy a touch during dribbling, resulting in the ball moving too far ahead. The ball also feels too bouncy, causing comical mistakes at times. But it is a matter of getting used to this and you should be making fewer mistakes the more you play.
Talking about mistakes, the referees are now as trigger-happy with their whistles as basketball referees, blowing at every contact and giving yellow cards for seemingly innocuous challenges.
In addition, there are still plenty of small but irritating bugs in the game. For instance, a player's face sometimes does not tally with his name. In the Career manager mode, there are times when big teams like Manchester United are relegated, which seems far-fetched even for this life-long Liverpool fan.
Thankfully, I can see EA trying hard to rectify the bugs. Almost whenever I start the game, there is an update to fix bugs.
Despite its quirks and bugs, Fifa 20 continues to be the best football simulation game with its realistic gameplay, appealing overall presentation and the new street football mode.