After weeks of anticipating, the big day has finally arrived: release day for FIFA 15 in North America! And the reviews are rolling in. How does this year’s installment in EA’s soccer sim series measure up to last year’s? How are gamers and critics reacting to the changes? Let’s check out the pros and cons of FIFA 15-where the game has evolved over its predecessor, and where it is lagging behind.
Realism and Emotional Intensity
These have been the big buzz words for FIFA this year, and no wonder: the players really do look absolutely fantastic, and so do the pitch and the audience. The player reactions are much more palpable-there are no more stiff faces on the field. Players behave like individuals, and react realistically to their triumphs and shortcomings on the field. They pout, they shout in frustration, they celebrate in victory. They interact with each other in realistic ways. None of this alters actual gameplay, but it feels a lot more natural. Crowd atmosphere is amazing, and really helps to individualize the stadiums themselves, which have been rendered in wonderful detail. Play at Anfield, and you’re sure to hear “You’ll Never Walk Alone.”
Subtle but Powerful Changes to Gameplay
Defenders are a lot more involved. Whereas in the past they would often just stand there being useless when they were needed, they are now much more likely to jump in and do their jobs.
Goalkeepers in particular have received a huge upgrade. This was a big deal this year, and EA has talked about it a lot, so we were excited to see whether the new goalkeepers would live up to our sky-high expectations. The goalkeepers really are doing a much better job this go-around. Enhanced ball physics has also removed some of the predictability out of shots. Surefire shots in the past are now much more randomized (and realistic). Coupled with the improved skill of the goalkeepers, it is now much easier to defend your goal and harder to score against your opponent. Some reviewers have been saying they now think the goalkeepers are overpowered, but these voices are a minority. We feel like they are much more balanced than they used to be.
More varied gameplay. We mentioned a moment ago how the goal shots are more true-to-life, resulting in more variation and less predictability. This applies not just to the goal shots, but to all the gameplay on the field. You can play a lot more hours on FIFA 15 than you could on FIFA 14 and experience a lot less repetition. In fact, so far we’ve been hard-pressed to spot any at all.
Game Mode Improvements
Career mode seems more intuitive than it did in the past (though not much), and there are a ton of options. This is great if you’re a big FIFA player and you know the ins and outs of the game, but may be a bit intimidating for some novices. Lots of different game modes have come back, including skill games, tournaments, Pro Clubs, Co-Op seasons, online play, and of course, Ultimate Team.
Ultimate Team is even better than Career Mode. It should be less tricky for new players to master. There are some balancing issues in UT, including defensive errors, and these do subtract from the game a bit, but not so much that it isn’t still a heck of a lot of fun. Another change is that you can no longer trade cards with friends. While this is a bit sad, they made the change to reduce exploitations that were inflating the transfer market prices way beyond anything remotely reasonable. This should keep top player cards within an affordable range . or at least, a less unaffordable range. As a reminder, this version of FIFA has introduced player loans, so you can sign on these hard-to-afford players for a few games to test them out, which is fun.
Planning is so much easier. Remember when you used to have to head over to FU Thead or FU Twiz to try and plan out the perfect team? Now you can do all of that inside the game using the concept squads feature that has just been introduced. You can test strategies and tactics, and it is awesome. Team Sheets may actually be our favorite new feature on the game. It is amazing to have this level of control for each player.
Every game has its imperfections, and FIFA 15 certainly isn’t without them. While player physiques look more athletic, they also look a bit more buff than seems realistic for the majority. There are glitches and bugs, some of which are rather funny-like a player passing his arm straight through his teammate’s body during a celebration. We have yet to see a player float through the air though, which is good! Career Mode could still use some polishing; hopefully next year they will make that a priority. Single-player gaming in general could use some work; EA’s focus seems to be on multiplayer.
In summary? FIFA 15 isn’t a perfect game. You can hardly expect perfection though when there are so many aspects to work on each year, and the developers are always forced to pick and choose. This year we saw a lot of work go into Ultimate Team and the graphics and realism aspects of the game. Next year, hopefully EA will focus more on Career mode. But for now, one thing is certain, and that is that FIFA 15 is the best FIFA game ever, and there are a ton of great reasons to buy FIFA 15 right now!