EA Sports recently released their latest version of FIFA, FIFA 15, and when it came out I decided to use this review as an excuse to pick up a copy. The new version boasts many changes from last year, and it has also been optimized for the PS4 and XBOX ONE. This new version is not just a roster and kit update. EA made many changes to improve the gameplay. On their website, www.easports.com, EA lets FIFA players know about all of the new improvements to this year’s iteration. The main draw for picking up the new game is the changes EA made to the goalkeepers. They brought in the world-class USMNT goalie Tim Howard, and created over 100 new keeper save animations. These changes make the game feel much more lifelike, and scoring feel a lot more satisfying.
Unfortunately, the other feature that EA is touting as a major change is exclusive to Xbox One and PS4. This feature simply makes the matches more realistic, by adding a few things that make the game more lifelike. Players can become frustrated with the refs after a bad call, and will get angry at players on the other team. This means that players who enjoy mouthing off to the referee (Rooney, Suarez, Pepe, and Balotelli, to name a few) will be more likely to get carded. (Time will tell if EA has added a biting animation for Suarez). Also, the quality of the pitch worsens over time, as the players tumble and slide in the mud. In my opinion, these are just little things, but they do make the game a bit more interesting and I wish I had a PS4 to experience it on.
Besides these major changes, the usual updates have been made. New rosters and kits are available, the graphics have been improved slightly, and AI players have become a tad more intelligent in their run making and general off the ball play. For me, the new roster update is a big deal, and if you are a soccer fan it is worth it to buy FIFA 15 for that alone, since so many world-class players have changed teams during the transfer window.
All of the same modes are present from FIFA 14, with the exception of Pro Clubs mode on the PS3 and XBOX360. You shouldn’t let this deter you from buying the game, because EA Sports still offers plenty of different modes to play. You can play a quick game with friends in Kickoff mode, start a career in Career mode, join a tournament and play with friends, or play EA’s flagship mode, Ultimate Team. Ultimate Team is great, it is my personal favorite mode, and it is really fun building your team from scratch. EA has also included a companion app this year, for people who want to adjust their Ultimate Team on the go.
However, none of these changes mean anything until you play the game. When the demo first came out, I was skeptical about buying the game, as it was not as enjoyable as I thought it would be. Nevertheless, I decided to purchase it, and it really does deliver. The demo is nothing like the game itself. The gameplay is fantastic, and everything is incredibly lifelike. The crowd look and behave like real people, and so do the players. Player movement has also improved a lot, and when I played FIFA 15 I felt like I was actually playing soccer. The players made intelligent runs off the ball, passing was realistic and skill moves were much easier to pull off. When I went back to playing FIFA 14, there was a noticeable difference in the quality of the game. Everything just felt fake.
Despite all of the fantastic changes EA has made, FIFA 15 still has some issues. Players in ultimate team can often be ridiculously expensive. There is no way that any normal FIFA player could afford multiple world class players, as the game has only been out for a little over a week. However, there are still plenty people who do have these players, in part because EA has not fully cracked down on coin buying. Coins are necessary to purchase good players, and millions of coins can be purchased for very low prices if you choose not to make the purchase through EA themselves. EA has of course banned this activity, but it does not do much to deter people from buying coins. Coin buying is not extremely common, but its is still frustrating when you get destroyed by players who do, simply because their team is much better than yours. Another issue in FIFA 15 is that pace still rules the game. Fast players are everything, and at times this is unrealistic. There is nothing more frustrating than playing someone who paces the ball up for the entire game, as it renders your defense useless.
Despite these minor problems, FIFA 15 is a great game, and EA definitely hit the target with this one. If you have been a fan of past FIFA’s, I would highly recommend this one, especially if you have a PS4 or XBOX ONE. For those of you who have older consoles, this year’s FIFA is still a great buy, and it is a welcome change from FIFA 14. All in all, this years FIFA has a ton of new features, and it comes with the added bonus of improved graphics. If you want to be fully immersed in the soccer experience, FIFA 15 is a must buy.