Another season is done with the new one already underway. We have seen ze Germans lift the World Cup, ridiculous money spent in the Summer transfer window (I am looking at you UTD) and players form come and go but something just as important to so many of us is “how much better is the new iteration of FIFA?” In short, a lot better.
FIFA always tweak and edit this part of the title. This season is no different with that big game feel coming to the fore in FIFA 15. FIFA 15 feels far more like a TV broadcast than ever before and it really has become a game that is fun to play and now good to watch as well.
When the ball goes out of play you are often reminded about a recent goal or incident by replay. These are gorgeously framed and do a great job of showing some pitch wear and tear or showing your teams next opponent. These cutaways however can, and do intrude, but for the most part they can be shortened (not all and in a couple instances you have to watch these interstitials for a couple seconds before you can get back to game time). Players who love the opportunity to watch a near miss or blinding save are in for a treat this year.
The wealth of cosmetic changes during gameplay are very welcome. The addition of animated crowds to FIFA 14 was great but fell horribly short of the mark. This has been adjusted and the crowd is now intricately part of the game ramping up that big match occasion. They will cheer a clever pass or execution of tactics but get something wrong and you will have to deal with being jeered by your own fans as well as the oppositions.
A small mention to the “new” menus. They do look slightly changed with the biggest edits coming to Team Management and the ability to create additional line-ups which you can save and use when needed.
And the only part of this review that means anything. The game is smoother, the players react when they need to, the goal keepers are on drugs and “emotional intelligence” is nothing short of a masterstroke.
Watching the pre start up trailer you will notice just how much camera time is dedicated to the keepers. This is no fluke. When you are striding out on the counter and find yourself one-on-one with a keeper, things feel VERY different. While a quick pull of the finesse trigger will help your chances of beating a keeper, it’s far from a guarantee. Keepers used to be some of the most frustrating players in your side, they would let the ball go out when they had a week to get to it, they will touch the ball over the crossbar when they are unchallenged and its nowhere near it or push a dribbler of a shot straight into the path of an open attacker. No more. Keepers are now well rounded and more like their real life counterparts but do sometimes still make mistakes when under the influence of emotional intelligence.
Something that is still quite annoying is when you lose possession it can feel a bit like your players are running underwater. Rushing up in defense is a sure fire way to concede. Don’t dive in, don’t over use sprint and just don’t be stupid and you should be good.
Being in control of the ball is an incredible feeling. Picking it up inside your own half with an attacker and going on a 5 defender destroying, goal scoring run is now more possible than ever because of how much more responsive the players are. You don’t need to use skill moves to beat players, a quick flick of the stick in the opposite direction of the defender and your players is away. The crowd loves it, you will too! Having said that, the chances of a bone crunching tackle or last ditch block, are something to always be mindful of. AI players are very keen to get stuck in and put their bodies on the line.
Player positioning can sometimes be fairly shite. There are not too many more frustrating things as seeing a defender on the overlap simply over run the ball and give it away. Having possession as I said is glorious, losing it spells serious trouble and gives that emotional intelligence engine an opportunity to mess with your usually solid defenders head (and be on the lookout for dodgy player positioning when the opposition clear the ball in defense, it’s not uncommon for that reflex clearance to land gently at the feet of an attacker, and regardless of your formation will have acres of space to run into).
Emotional intelligence often gets the better of defenders if you press them deep in their own half. Too often they will inexplicably hoof the ball into the stands because a skinny little winger is breathing down their neck. Great for the attack because you keep the possession the more you attack/press, but can break up the play quite regularly and stifle your flow to goal.
With so many gameplay improvements we can’t cover them all but the new tactics/set piece edits have to get a mention. FIFA 15 has significantly improved your opponents tactics. Go a goal or 2 down to see them “park the bus” or waste time. It’s now much easier to construct an elaborate set piece. Throw-ins, corners and free-kicks are now more precise and there is the ability to control team mates off the ball – for a full list of all the features – click here (http://www.easports.com/uk/fifa/features)
There are a couple (some we have mentioned and others you can see for yourself) issues that are still around and these do annoy but what you have to remember is FIFA is the best simulation of the beautiful game by a long shot and when emotion is now a governing factor in AI players movements and decision making it has to be expected that behaviour is going to oscillate between genius and insane. These glitches can (and should be) be overlooked because of how well FIFA attempt to accurately recreate the complicated physical and behavioural variables of sporting gameplay, and too FIFA’s credit, these don’t happen often. We love this game so what’s the point in sitting and having a little whinge about it not being perfect like some of the bigger gaming sites have done. Shame on you!
In FIFA 15, each crowd will react and sound unique; chants at the Emirates will differ from Anfield and the atmosphere changes dynamically to what’s going on in the match. These sorts of improvements have also had a pretty big effect on the commentary. It’s really awesome to hear Martin Tyler read out the teamsheet and highlight your sides set up, while the recorded clips have been “seamlessly” stitched together this time around (there are still issues here though because sometimes you get the feeling no real life commentary team would talk this way).
An all-new Match Day live hub powered by Goal.com will help keep you connected to the latest news and action from your favourite club or league. Check league tables and stats of all the featured leagues, or jump in and play your team’s next fixture before it happens via EA SPORTS Football Club Match Day.
Finally the Turkish SuperLig has been added and it features all 18, licensed teams. Apparently this was one of the most requested leagues and FIFA have finally allowed you to play with Fenerbahçe, Galatasaray and Beşiktaş.
FUT, Barclays Premier League and Career Mode have all seen major content updates but we will leave those for you to discover.
EA SPORTS FIFA is hands down the best, most impressive and comprehensive sport simulation out there and on new-gen hardware it is the closest thing to the beautiful game imaginable. Sure there are still some things EA need to fix but hey, that’s what FIFA 16 will be about. Whether you have been playing this game since ‘92 on SEGA or are thinking about trying it out for the first time you will be far more than stoked with FIFA 15. Has it improved on FIFA 14, hell yes, should you buy it…without a doubt!
Our FIFA 15 review comes to you courtesy of EA Games
Have a look at these screenshots of some of the updates: