“…if you are a FIFA fan then the answer is yes; you probably should go and buy FIFA 15”
The latest instalment of the phenomenally popular FIFA series has arrived from EA Sports, and football fans everywhere have rushed to the front of queues to grab their copies, in some cases even causing sell outs around the UK. Some people will be asking what more EA can possibly add to their long-running football gaming franchise, but EA persist in answering this call with vigour and gusto, continually throwing something new and shiny our way in order to draw us in year after year. So what has FIFA 15 got that makes it worth some more of our hard earned cash? Let’s have a look at what’s new and why we should (or indeed shouldn’t) be interested in this next in a line of new and refreshed footballing experiences.
The updates to the actual gameplay side of FIFA 15 are perhaps more subtle than in some of the more recent previous releases. The game’s case suggests that the key changes this time around are “Agility and Control, Man to Man Battles, Correct Contacts and an all-new Squad Management system”. Agility and Control are certainly elements which feel as though they have had some level of overhaul. You seem to be able to speed up, change direction, perform tricks and receive the ball much more nicely and realistically than has been the case before, and this makes play feel much more flowing. The Correct Contacts are also very clear addictions. For example, if you run straight into somebody else on the pitch now, you are liable to fall over them and knock them down, not just straight up bash into them like the old unstoppable force and immovable object scenario we have been used to in the past.
Man to man battles are maybe not as obvious in the game however. EA Sports boasted an unprecedented level of emotional and reactive behaviour based on the way that the game was going and what had happened to a player so far. If you had missed several shots for example, you were meant to see an increased level of frustration in that player’s behaviour. If you were tackled badly, a player is supposed to remember this later in the game, and potentially act more recklessly when they next meet this opponent. Whilst it does seem like the game tries to push these ideas in some ways, they are not as present and indeed effective as it may have sounded as though they would be. Perhaps EA just overplayed the level of influence this feature would have in FIFA 15, or perhaps it is simply something you have to play a lot more than a few days of the game to truly realise the effects of. Either way, it’s not quite the dramatic new feature which was described.
The new Squad Management system on the other hand, and indeed much of the user interface side of FIFA 15, has seen a very strong, positive, and most importantly effective update carried out. Things in FIFA 15 are now much faster, flowing and easier to find than the last few titles in the franchise have seen them. It is possible to navigate menus quickly and easily, and find what you are looking for with ease rather than having to perform endless searching. There are also a lot less tick boxes and scenes to skip when you turn the game on now, so you can certainly jump into things faster. Most significant however is the update to the Team Management system itself. You can now quickly find replacements for a player on the pitch, change your formation, or deal out advanced tactics without having to trek through numerous different menus to do so. This has made readying up for a game faster, substitutions less gruelling, and the general setup for a good quality game a much more pleasant and friendly experience. In this side of things, FIFA 15 certainly earns brownie points.
There are other elements of the game which have improved significantly too, aside from just those listed on the box. Some of these in fact are much more important to play, and so it is odd that EA did not choose to highlight them as well, but nonetheless, here they are: First of all there are more tactical options available to you now during a match. When you are taking a free kick or throw in, you can now switch to the receiver of the ball to better position them. You then simply call for the play and the rest is magic. This can make some of these set pieces a lot easier to master and perfect. You can also tell your teammates where to position themselves in the box for a corner; a feature introduced in the World Cup game and one which also makes set pieces more adaptable, useful and meaningful.
If you are playing FIFA 15 on an Xbox system, you can also look forward to some extras in the Ultimate Team mode. One of these is Legends, where classic players can be drafted into your squads to play alongside modern maestros and for a truly ultimate team to be reckoned with. This is certainly good fun to mess around with and adds that extra new element into this mode of play, pitting old against new in a very Rocky Balboa sort of way… Ultimate Team will also reward players of FIFA 14 with some bonus gold places when you jump into this mode for the first time, which is a nice gesture from EA, and fits nicely alongside the fact that you no longer need one of those pesky EA passes to play anymore! The other key update to Ultimate Team is loaning players, where you can have a higher level player join your team temporarily for a set number of games to give your squad that extra boost and help you teach your friends a lesson if they are repeatedly destroying you. Of course, Ultimate Team still has the same core structure and methods, but it too has been positively updated with the new, friendly interfaces and gameplay, and the whole experience is undoubtedly now an enhanced one.
What else is there to mention? Well, sadly there is still no Be a Ref mode despite my constant recommendations to EA for this to happen, though whether I can objectively deduct points for this I am unsure… The commentary is getting ever funnier, with comments about the Force being with the winning team flying out now amongst more inspiring words on the injuries of the game straight from Jeff; “our man on the touch line”. Stadiums seem to look a little nicer, perhaps thanks to some next-gen trickery, and the crowds are getting more and more real looking in every release. Soon we may have scarily realistic folks invading the pitch, so watch out FIFA 2003, your pixelated onlookers are very much a thing of the past now! Players look a lot more like themselves now, even if emotion does still appear to be lost on the FIFA developers. It is nice to be able to not laugh at some of the faces as you play now though. Otherwise, FIFA 15 has the same fun factor as its predecessors and is just as entertaining as the last game. There are just enough new updates once again justify this new release and, indeed, to sell it as something better. In short, if you are a FIFA fan then the answer is yes; you probably should go and buy FIFA 15.
The Good Points:
- Agility and Control improvements alongside more realistic contacts in game make gameplay more realistic than ever, and it feels more like you are in control of the game.
- New Team Management style makes organising your team and tactics easier both prior to and during a game.
- New menu system is easier to navigate and much more user friendly.
- In game tactical options, especially for set pieces, have been improved.
- Ultimate Team has seen some positive improvements which add to the already popular experience.
The Bad Points:
- The Man-to-Man Battles and improved levels of emotion and reactions promised in FIFA 15’s gameplay are not as significant or even visible as expected given the build-up.
- On a personal note, the continued lack of Be a Ref Mode disappoints this reviewer, but maybe next time…
Disclaimer:All scores given within our reviews are based on the artist’s personal opinion; this should in no way impede your decision to purchase the game.