That time is upon us again, the annual release of EA Sports’ famous footy sim, Fifa.
It’s what every burly lad waits all year round for wondering what will change; will I be able to be the referee this time around? Will I be able to jump on the pitch myself? Well no, you can’t on both. EA have made quite clear that their main focus on Fifa 15 will be player emotions and interactivity towards each other. I guess the game itself didn’t really need changing as Fifa 14 was amazing enough, but EA have indeed added some tweaks to the mechanics and tried hard to maintain some sort of on-the-pitch balance.
Fifa 15’s single player modes remain similar to last year’s modes. Dominated by the career mode, players can play as a player or player-manager as they try to take their chosen team up the league ranks whilst sorting out loans, transfers, tactics, keeping their team ship shape and even attempting to reach international success. It’s relatively untouched and plays just as fantastic as it did last year. You have a real sense of incite as to the execution and operation of your team and success or failure depends on your very own decisive actions and it’s as close to the real thing as you’ll ever get to being a Premiership manager. Aside from the fantastical career, Ultimate team is another mode that has stayed put. It once again remains a combination of footy team manager and collectable card game. Players are again displayed as cards as you decide the positions of where they are in your club or in your starting line-up. Need training or medical attention? Then cards for these can be collected too which can be used as consumables. Fancy a new strip or trademark match ball? Then you’d better hope to gain one in your next pack. Packs can be bought using the in-game currency earned from hitting certain goals amongst any game mode. The main factor to keep into account when placing players in your Ultimate team is position and nationality. Players who belong to the same nation or team, like to work near each other on the pitch therefore it will raise your teams chemistry level which in turn makes your team perform better on the pitch. The main change in FUT is the inclusion of a Concept team which allows you to make up your fantasy team which acts as an inspiration to work up too, but it’s essentially a useless feature.
On the pitch is where things have changed the most. On first inspection, you will think that it’s the same as Fifa 14 along with a “if it isn’t broke don’t fix it” kind of feeling. The players and the pitch as well as the stadiums still are strikingly beautiful and marvellously detailed, but more on that later. Kicking off is when you will feel the differences. Players don’t control the ball as silky smooth as they did last year unless you are key players such as Messi or Hazard. Turning with the ball with anyone other than these kinds of player’s means they will struggle on keeping control whilst on the turn leaving they open to be tackled. The chipped through ball has now been nerfed meaning it’s not as much use in Fifa 15 than last time although the ground through ball has more of a significance.
EA’s boasted player emotion system is no doubt a fantastic addition as it looks fantastic when a goalkeeper makes a tough acrobatic save and once it goes out, a defender will shake him by the shoulders as if to give a passionate “well done”. The main issue with the emotion feature though is the sensitivity of it on the pitch. There was one too many instances where I was on a nice run along the wing when an opponent was running alongside me, my player then suddenly slowed down and put both his hands in the air as if to signal to the ref that he isn’t touching the opponent player, this allowed that player to take the ball from me and kick it away putting an end to my run. It is one hell of a frustration. The collision detection is another hit and miss factor meaning there is a lot more penalty kicks given this time around. Whilst in an online match, I was in the 18 yard box lining up for a shot when I cleared past a defender, then I dropped to the floor and was given a penalty. Whilst I was happy about this, I wondered why it happened so I watched the replay which showed the defender toe just touching ball as I was running past. In real life, it would have been considered a dive but due to the fact you can’t dive in Fifa 15, it’s a mechanical error. Goalkeepers have been tweaked to be a force to be reckoned with. Unless you finesse shot in a one on one situation, that ball isn’t going in the net as keepers are spectacularly nimble and agile. In Fifa 14, one on one’s were game enders, the striker would have undoubtedly sunk it in the bottom corner, in Fifa 15 though, and keepers seemingly have big hands and the agility of a cat. Aside from all of that mentioned, Fifa still plays like Fifa, you can still pull off some amazing looking blinders in the top corner and whizz past players leaving them wondering what happened.
Online still plays brilliant depending on the latency. Seasons and Be a Pro is still present which remains untouched from last year. Visually though, Fifa 15 is stunning. The players look identical to who they are supposed to portray, they get gradually dirty as the match progresses and the pitch degrades as time passes. Stadiums look excellently recreated with big crowds, camera crew and equipment, linesmen and even police and stewards. It’s easily the best looking football game available.
Fifa 15 retains its place on the number one spot of footy games. With its immense realism, enhanced emotion system and tight action on the pitch, this is as close to the real thing as you’re going to get. Not without issues though, sensitive collision detection, ridiculously good goalkeepers and hit and miss emotion features hinder the game-play but a fine game of football can be found here if you can overlook these. The best footy sim available.
Story - 4/5
Graphics - 5/5
Game-play - 3/5
Overall - 4/5
Version Reviewed - Xbox One