- Written by Brandon Perton
FIFA 14 was a fun game, but it wasn’t the most refined entry into EA’s hallowed football franchise. It gave players a well-rounded experience, and spoke of things to come as the FIFA series made the move to next-gen consoles. And FIFA 15 delivers on that promise. It’s tough to completely renovate a beloved franchise year after year, so the improvements this year come from the little things – the small details. The game modes, cameras, controls and even the graphics themselves will be very familiar to you if you played last year’s game. This means that returning players will feel right at home in FIFA 15, creating a fun, exciting package that builds on last year’s foundation.
The most obvious area where these improvements are visible in-game are the goalkeepers. They are now more lifelike, thanks to some fantastic animations and fluid movements. They are now deadly weapons in the hands of skilled players, because they’re able to perform acrobatic, stunning saves that wouldn’t have been possible in previous games. They also behave like real goalkeepers would on a field, responding to events in the game dynamically and believably. They might occasionally run out and try to intercept a lone striker, only to think better of it moments later and run back to the goal line. They also respond realistically to corners and maneuver themselves between opponents that might potentially be threatening a goal.
While this all looks and feels really great, it doesn’t have that big of an impact when it comes to the final score. Goalkeepers are about as efficient as they’ve ever been, they just look better while they’re doing their thing. EA has gradually balanced the difficulty of the game to avoid ridiculous scorelines that were possible in previous editions after players figured out the patterns of the AI. You’ll still be able to net the odd fantastical shot, but it’s slightly less likely than it might have been before. Certain players, as you’ll discover, are better at landing these highlight-reel worthy shots in the game, as they are in real life.
The Style of Play:
The play style of the team you are playing as and the formation you employ will largely affect your ability to land these crazy goals. When you increase the difficulty settings, your opponents will adapt on the fly to your tactics. If you’re sending a lone striker into unmarked territory too often, they’ll start marking the player more aggressively. If your opponents are a goal or two behind and there are minutes left on the clock, they’ll often switch to more aggressive and risky play styles. If you don’t adjust your strategy accordingly, you might find yourself on the wrong end of a nail-biting finish.
Luckily, it’s easier to make these changes on the fly due to the improvements in the team management interface. You can give instructions to specific players if you want to, or just use the large icons to move your players around to counter the opponent’s strategy. There are several predefined strategies available that you can put into place with one button press. It might not be the most detailed football simulation when it comes to customization, but you still have plenty of options available to you. Really getting deep and technical into the sport of football would probably work against the FIFA franchise, seeing as it has built a fanbase by blending pure fun with a touch of realism. You aren’t playing to get into the mind of an Alex Ferguson, you just want to score goals that look great.
The FIFA Ultimate Team Mode:
Allows you to recreate this specific type of fantasy football by making big-name players available to you for short durations. Even if your club doesn’t have the money to buy Lionel Messi outright, you can just add him to your team on a temporary basis to get through a particularly tough part of the season. If you aren’t particularly interested in progressing on the backs of sheer star power and instead would like to dive into a tournament immediately, you can use the Tournament Mode feature to enter your team into one of several worldwide tournaments. You can’t play the World Cup, but there are several other tournaments to play through.
The Career Mode:
Remains the staple of the franchise, giving players the ability to rise through the ranks as a player or a manager. When you’re a player, you only need to be concerned about your own performance. When you’re managing a team, you have to juggle a lot of variables to make sure your teams performs to its potential. If you’ve played the Career Mode last year, you’ll find a lot of the same gameplay available here, except this year it’s better organized and you have more scouting options.
The online play:
Is becoming a major focus of the FIFA series, and for good reason. Outwitting AI opponents isn’t nearly as satisfying as scoring friends against your friends or other people on the internet. The PS4 also allows you to share your moments of victory online, so everyone knows that you’ve beaten your fiend.
FIFA 15 is another solid entry into the franchise and a game that does what the FIFA series does best – recreate the magic of spectacular football. Goalkeepers are more lifelike, but skilled players can still outwit them. There are just enough tactical options for you to indulge your inner geek, but ultimately the focus is on the gameplay itself. The Ultimate Team mode is a nice option where you can create your own star team. It isn’t the most detailed or realistic football simulation on the market, but it’s definitely the most fun. If you’re a football fan, you can’t go wrong with FIFA 15.
Game Score: 8.5 Out of 10