It's the most wonderful time of the year!
Yes, the new FIFA game is here, and if you haven't already played it or are wary about shelling out £60 / $60 for it, hopefully, we can help.
We were really looking forward to getting FIFA 22 on the next-gen consoles, but unfortunately, the lack of availability of those consoles scuppered that dream for many.
We have another review that was done on PS5 here, but if you're wondering what the new game is like on PS4, read on.
The most important part of any FIFA game is how it plays.
The big change this year is that the game is a lot slower, giving a more realistic feel.
Whereas pace was everything on FIFA 21, it is more balanced on FIFA 22.
Having a quick player still has its advantages, especially when pouncing on a loose ball, but when contact is made you will find it much harder to pass defenders.
This should be a good thing as it means a wider pool of players is likely to be used, opposed to just pacey ones.
Another aspect that will help expand the player pool is a change in passing.
On FIFA 22, players don't make short passes with as much ease, with a change in accuracy especially noticeable on one-touch and skilled (L2/LT) passing.
This makes build-up play slightly slower too, as you don't want to push balls through recklessly and concede possession constantly.
It also makes counterattacking less prevalent, changing the meta of the game.
Due to that change, players like Sergio Busquets - who is very good at controlling the tempo of the game but isn't quick - should see more play.
Longer balls appear easier to make, with chipped through balls making a comeback as one of the best ways to get in behind the opposition.
As mentioned, the game is slower, which makes players with top dribbling and agility very useful.
Close control lets you nick the ball past more cumbersome players, and makes wingers without dazzling pace, such as Hakim Ziyech, a bigger threat.
Finesse shots have become a lot less successful inside the box, but have been improved outside of it.
That has made regular shooting far more prevalent, so it will take some getting used to changing our muscle memory.
If you have a bit of space then long shots can be devastating, even with players who don't excel with hitting them from distance.
Using a standing tackle has become harder, perhaps because of improved ball control.
This means you need to be more careful when defending inside your box, and whether you're up against a human or computer player, are likely to face an attacker that wiggles all over the place, taunting you.
You will notice players responding much more rigidly to player instructions.
If you set them to 'Get In Behind', they will constantly be trying to make that run.
This led to us switching most players' instructions to 'Balanced' throughout, which shows off the new intelligence for FIFA 22.
Attacking players make much more intelligent runs, depending on the situation.
Mixing it up between dropping deep or getting in behind depending on the space available, the game is more fluid than in previous years.
Defending has become harder than on previous games, and although your team will keep a decent shape, runners will find gaps between defenders and in behind easily when you're on the edge of your box.
The pace upgrade to many centre-backs has helped with preventing counter-attacks, but not in other areas.
Goalkeepers are much harder to beat, and this may be one of the first changes we see in a patch update.
When attacking one-on-one they are very good, often rushing out and smothering the shot.
Reactions from close range after a cross are phenomenal, leading to many angry controller throws!
It is nice having more of a challenge to try and score, but a bit more balance is probably needed.
EA has not been known for pushing the graphics in FIFA over the years, probably because they know they will dominate the market whether they do or not.
It looks very much the same this year, with no noticeable spike on the PS4.
However, it does look a lot better on PS5, making us want to get our hands on a next-gen console more than ever.
The game mode that will be the biggest draw for most players is Ultimate Team.
You can expect very much the same as last year from all aspects, apart from the gameplay.
As mentioned above, the slower speed has created a different meta, that doesn't rely on pace and counter-attacks.
It also means a bigger player pool, so we are seeing more variety in teams.
We're enjoying this change, as it makes each game more unique.
Despite it following the same formula as regular Career Mode after you have set up, there is something very satisfying about playing with your own customised team.
Picking your own kits seems like a little thing, but it is a total game-changer, a visual representation on the pitch that this is your special club.
There are still some limitations on customisation, but we are sure that in future instalments this will only grow, as the game mode seems extremely popular.
Being given a squad full of newly generated players makes you want to develop your original team more, similar to moving a player up from your youth academy.
In general, the computer is harder to play against, with more intelligent attacks, keeping possession, and close control when taking on defenders, which has ultimately led to a more satisfying gaming experience.
The game mode that is trying to make it big, Volta has introduced a new feature which is the skill meter to give your player a signature ability.
It's definitely a nice touch and very reminiscent of FIFA Street.
The player customisation and skill progression trail both return, but you start off with a higher base level and need to spend a big chunk of your early points to decide whether to specialise in attacking, passing or defensive attributes.
There is still a lot more work to be done for this game mode to really take off, but it seems to be moving in the right direction.
Chances are if you are heavily into Ultimate Team you already have the game.
There is a big enough change in gameplay that makes it worth getting hold of FIFA 22 and not feeling disappointed that it's just the old game with a different number on the front.
If you're into Career Mode then it will be a nice change, with Create-a-Club giving the whole experience a new feel, and an increase in difficulty posing a larger threat that you won't go seasons unbeaten.
There are still areas where FIFA can improve going forward, but that will probably only come on next-gen consoles.
For those without next-gen, this is probably going to be as good as it gets!
RealSport Rating: 4 out of 5 stars