Did you know that EA Sports’ FIFA franchise is the best-selling sports game that produce? No seriously it is. It beat out Madden, NHL and even UFC. Why? Well maybe because the developers in EA Canada pour so much love into the game. The latest instalment, FIFA 15 has promised to deliver a football sim unlike anything else out there. So let’s see if the football powerhouse did just that…
The graphics have been completely revamped, affecting everything from fully remodelled players, to authentic camera angles, to bouncy hair physics and turf degradation. Also impressive are the improvements to the grounds and crowds, with the pitch cutting up and fans reacting to events with club-specific chants.
That said, there are also gameplay improvements, many of them subtle, which makes FIFA 15 a better game than its predecessor. Some of these you will notice immediately, such as the way the players handle the ball — it is more natural, with skilled players having better control while making tighter turns (EA says its FIFA 15 “Player Control” dynamic heightens the responsiveness of player movement, giving athletes more control and personality on the ball). The players’ appearance also is slightly more true-to-life.
The “emotional intelligence” that EA has bestowed upon the rest squad creates an interesting element of randomness – don’t expect to see any biting, but players railing at referees mid-game, sometimes to the detriment of your play, certainly adds to the experience – as does their unilateral decision to “park the bus” when leading in an important game. In addition, the previously frustrating menus are now slick, making a run through the near-unchanged career mode less of a chore.
There’s also a greater sense of solidity to the players (if you understand what I mean); tangles of feet result in frustratingly authentic fouls; goalies keep the ball out with a desperate scramble of arms and legs; and easing defenders off the ball as you run in on goal feels just right.
There is greater tactical variety, too. You can push men up the field during goal kicks, crowd the keeper during corners, and even ‘park the bus’ during open play, options all accessible from the D-pad. The result is a pacier game than 14, if not quite as arcade-quick as 13.
In terms of game modes, Career lets you manage or play with anyone. Highlights of the Week let you relive recent high-profile games. Match Day alters player stats based on real world form, and Match Day Live gives you a stream of stats and stories based on a team of your choice. In Career, these stories are tailored to your own team. Enquire about a transfer and the media will sniff out the story; score with a new player on his debut and you can read about him starting with a bang. FIFA’s growing relationship with the real thing makes you feel more connected than ever, whether you carve through mountains of text or merely catch it in your periphery.
On a negative note, FIFA 15 isn’t always flawless. Annoying glitches are still noticeable (although not as prevalent) and players will occasionally bounce off each other, get tangled in knots on the ground or disappear entirely.
To wrap up, let me put it this way FIFA 15 is a ridiculously addictive and beautiful looking game. Therefore, if football is the beautiful game then EA have made the perfect sim because this is the beautiful video game.
FIFA 15 was reviewed on the Xbox One and is available now on Nintendo 3DS, Nintendo Wii, PC, PS3, PS4, Xbox 360 and Xbox One.