FIFA 15 Review

Every year, we await the FIFA franchise’s annual release. We await to enjoy the months on end of playing 12 year-olds on Ultimate Team who spent their mom’s credit card on a stacked team. We await the months on end of playing someone in South America with their dodgy internet connection. We await the career mode games that show your five time Champions League winning team fall to Wigan every time you play them. Why, after years of few improvements and even stripping of features, do we find ourselves drawn to FIFA? Aside from NBA (where 2K has a larger market share), EA seems to have the sports game genre in the palm of its hands. From 2006 to about 2010 FIFA surpassed P.E.S. (Pro Evolution Soccer) in terms of sales and quality, and hasn’t looked back since. P.E.S. has now become the laughing stock of soccer gaming, almost to the point the now-defunct FIFA Manager was compared to SI’s Football Manager. So in a choice between decent and dreadful, we chose decent. Let’s check out FIFA 15.

New/Improved Features

  • EA dubs this feature “emotional intelligence”, we dub it “a bit of wasted time”. It’s an improvement of celebrations and more cutaway scenes. The players react to more things: bad tackles, epic goals, etc. For example, pretty much every tackle resulting in a card, the two players involved will push each other like a school yard fight is about to break out.
  • The new “Living Pitch”, where the field starts to deteriorate as the game goes on, the players can actually kick the corner flag while celebrating, the players jersey’s get dirty as the game goes on, etc.
  • Graphics greatly improved, a lot more detailed faces for players, especially Barclays Premier League players.
  • Every Premier League stadium.
  • The addition of “All Out Attack” and “Park the Bus” in the team tactics. When playing a few games, I found the “All Out Attack” useful for scoring a late equalizer and “Park the Bus” useful to hold a lead. One of this game’s best improvements.
  • Customizable team management. Instead of just a single formation and line-up, you can now set up six (that’s right 6!) team sheets, that include different formations, line-ups, and player instructions. The graphics/compatibility of team management look a lot better as well.
  • Goalkeepers. Wow, what is there to say. This feature, by far, is FIFA 15’s golden egg. We reported earlier about Tim Howard jumping on board to help FIFA improve goalkeepers, and now we are seeing it come to life. The goalkeepers are phenomenal, stopping shots they wouldn’t dream of stopping in previous titles.The keepers go after rebounds, instead of lying prone on the ground as they used to. The only issue is slow chipped balls. In FIFA 14, the goalies would at least attempt to dive backwards and smack it away, but here they chase it as if they are on a leisurely stroll in the park. That is the only negative aspect in a greatly improved feature.
  • Ultimate Team Features: Ability to loan a player. Get players like Messi or Lewandowski for 5 games. Give a few of your players a rest and put in that world class talent! Friendly Seasons, allowing you to play with your friends similar to how regular “Friendly Season” mode is with regular teams. The new base stat “PHYS” for physical. The ‘Concept Squads’ feature allows you to plan for future squads. Or just dream about ever affording your dream team…
  • Better Player Control: Man-to-Man Battles, Correct Contacts, Agility & Control. All of these features/improvements are lumped together, and that’s because the improve how we control the offensive player. The touch is improved, the realism of the movements, and the battles are much more realistic. After winning the ball, the defender can keep going. This allows you to counter attacking, adding fluidity to a game for a sport based on the fluidity of the game.
  • Career Mode has some improvements: storylines, better player search, realistic player growth, and the ability to see a player’s overall after fully scouting them (thank goodness).
  • Addition of Ukrainian League

So…why such a low rating?

FIFA 15 can be a bad game, and EA would still be laughing to the bank. I am grateful it’s not as bad as FIFA 14, as its jump to next-gen consoles was a glitch-ridden nightmare. There’s plenty to rave about besides new features: the soundtrack, better touches, better crossing, more realism and smooth gameplay; but FIFA 15 isn’t all it could be. Do you recall in FIFA 14 when the announcer is screaming “Where’s the defending, he’s away!”? Well, the announcers and ourselves should be asking: where IS the defending? The offensive become nearly unstoppable. Players stop on a dime, do twirl, buy a girl flowers, save a cat from a tree, and are away on goal while the defender flies by. The defenders are nearly unresponsive to controls. I’ll give EA credit, they keep the game balanced despite the lack of defending. The games don’t end 7-5. How? Well, the improvement of goalkeepers and the rise in the difficulty of shooting makes it annoyingly balance out. Honestly, I am praising how realistic it is for soccer as most soccer games include shots just missing and goalkeepers making great saves, but the defenders are far too unrealistic. EA had to sell that part of the realism to keep their fanbase happy. Who doesn’t like scoring goals? Obviously, EA has still let a small fanbase down on the next-gen consoles. With EA’s NHL 15 being stripped of features on the next-gen consoles, FIFA 15 is missing a key one: Creation Center. While slow and not highly used, it was a great feature allowing people to mass create players and teams with ease. For the second year in a row, FIFA left the feature out, with no explanation as to why and if we will ever see this feature. There is also the issue of no announcement being made on MLS Expansion teams. Will EA include them in a winter update like they did in a previous FIFA?