Being a massive football fan, this time of year is special to me; maybe just that little bit more at the moment! The Premiership season is well underway, Arsenal are currently unbeaten and are flaunting stars like the German playmaker, Mesut Ozil and Chilean attacker, Alexis Sanchez. United on the other hand are doing pretty bad, which is quite nice! Not only that, but it is that time of year when EA release their obligatory football game and one that I’ve actually been dying to play since tinkering with the demo for a brief period in the build up to launch on Xbox One.
I know the non-football fans out there will be saying “FIFA 15, surely just FIFA 14, with updated squads, kits, etc” – I have exactly the same conversations about another one of my favourites, Football Manager, too (but that’s for another time) – to the non-Football/FIFA fan, yes it is. But, for those schooled in the art of ‘FIFA’ you’ll start noticing that every FIFA title is different to its predecessor, and FIFA 15 being no exception to the rule.
When you load the game up you can immediately see the improvements made from the last addition of FIFA because the intro has more wow factor, the menus (albeit based on FIFA 14’s) are slicker, and there’s even a news feature that gets updated for your preferred team. I was blown away before I even kicked a ball. Though, after flicking through the menus for a while to see what goodies EA had in store for this year, I decide to play a few Online games – nothing teaches you the game quicker than playing someone else online and I instantly found the passing way more precise than previously. Additionally the shooting is a lot harder and the goal keeping is a lot better – I noticed this despite the first goal I conceded was complete fluke air shot that just managed to dip under the cross bar at the very last second. Also, it seems that EA Sports have listened to the fans with the player’s behaviour on and off the ball. For example; players now make more realistic forward movements when attacking and will point to where they would like the ball played, rather than just loitering around the oppositions centre backs. When defending, the computer controlled players automatically position themselves better so when you change to that player you are set to close down or cut out a pass. The horrible first touch mechanic is still in the game, but it is not as harsh as FIFA 14’s, and it is more realistic.
When playing FIFA 15 I couldn’t believe how realistic the player models were. In my opinion it is normally Konami that get the player models spot on, but this year – well, move aside PES, FIFA 15’s models are more realistic than ever! Even the squad players look more like who they are supposed to be – rather than the generic created players that you often see while creating your own pro. Though, they have still not quite mastered the players smile when they score – something for you to work on for the future maybe, EA? I also really enjoyed the stadium models before each match as it is a very pleasant addition to the game to see the Stadiums of teams (mainly the bigger teams) around the world.
You often hear professional footballers say “every goal is special”, well with the shooting being a harder skill to master, and the goal keeping being much better than previous games, you can totally believe them. Even those little scruffy goals that hit 3 defenders on its way to the onion sack look, and feel great to get. EA previously came out and said that previous FIFA titles were set up for those who want to play ‘football’, with everyone’s philosophy of footballing being different to the next, this game feels more for my philosophy (as an Arsenal fan) of keeping the ball on the ground and passing the team to submission. Obviously, this doesn’t always work in reality, nor does it work all the time in the game, none the less with the pitch being wider and the passing being even more precise it allows me to play my own game.
There are added features in FIFA 15 that help you score the perfect goal. They have removed the option to create your own set piece – which felt ‘broken’ in FIFA 14 – and have added a more innovated way to attack the ball, and get the jump on the defence. Simply press down on the D-pad and a small option menu appears you can then select what you want to do, whether it is attacking the back post, making a run to the front post, or just crowding out the goal keeper making it near impossible for him to come and gather the ball from the set piece. I recommend practising set pieces as much as you can because they could be the difference between a W, or an L on your record when playing online.
All the usual modes are back and pretty much work the same as they did in previous FIFA titles, but why fix something that’s not broken, right? We buy this game because of the innovation and updates in the game play, not for the different modes. Though, I did notice that FIFA 15 doesn’t have the lobbies anymore, or at least I couldn’t find them on the game. Which comes as a great shame to me if they have been removed as enjoyed playing the 11v11 “Be A Pro” game modes on certain websites like YourFifaLeague.net where the website was based around that game mode, and was just about to re-launch after missing FIFA14. It’s worth having a crack at the ‘skill games’ also, as you will learn neat little tricks that will help you doing game play. You also get rewarded for spending your time playing the skill games with Achievements, which is always a good thing. Ultimate Team returns for all you out there that enjoyed playing this little game mode in previous FIFA titles. No doubt this will consume some of my hard earned cash when I get into it as I strive for a better team to compete online – My wallet hates micro transactions, as do I…But I just can’t stop myself when it comes to UT game modes – DAMN YOU EA!!
Overall FIFA 15 is brilliant; it can get frustrating at times, but then so does real football. It’s a game where emotions can run high, and EA have captured that perfectly in this instalment of FIFA. Unlike its predecessor, when you’re being out played on FIFA 15, it feels like you’re being outplayed not just being mugged off by the games ‘broken’ mechanics working against you. Though, there are a few things in this game that could use a little tweaking, it is by no means a perfect experience. Compared to last years title FIFA 15 is a massive leap in the right direction.
Thank you to Xbox for providing the review code
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