Fifa 15 Review
Reviewed on Microsoft Xbox OneAlso available on Microsoft Xbox 360, Nintendo 3DS, Nintendo Wii, PC, Sony PS Vita, Sony PlayStation 3 and Sony PlayStation 4
Football is a funny thing as it can take a fan on a rollercoaster of emotions, from the highs of winning the Premier League to the lows of relegation and losing to your rivals. And you’d think it would be a tough job to replicate these moments and emotions within a videogame, but over the past five or so years, EA have become the masters of Football simulation. Now up steps Fifa 15, a game that plans to continue the series’ domination over the Pro Evolution Soccer franchise.
Despite Fifa 14 being the debut Football game on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, some enthusiasts thought it took a few steps back from its predecessors, following the omission of tournament mode and the creation centre. Fans hoped that EA would listen to the criticism and proceed to make the ultimate Football simulator, and we are happy to report that they have succeeded. EA have just signed their own Lionel Messi, because the additions and improvements made to this year’s game makes Fifa 15 the best in the series.
One of Fifa 15’s biggest selling points this year is its improved Premier League experience, and this is demonstrated perfectly in the game’s opening match. While the game is installing to your hard drive, you’ll get the chance to play as Liverpool, against Manchester City. Considering how long it can take to install a game and how tedious it is, the chance to jump in early and get right into a game was a great idea from EA. Once in-game,you’ll catch glimpses of Anfield’s famous Kop end as the players take to the pitch, while every Liverpool fan in the ground performs a perfect rendition of You’ll Never Walk Alone. Before and after the match, the camera will pan around the field showing Liverpool followers singing and holding their scarves above their head, just like at a game in real life. All this comes together to create a fantastic atmosphere and a real sense of occasion, the player feels like this game is of great importance to every supporter within the stadium. Fifa 15’s opening game left a fantastic first impression on us, and we couldn’t wait to delve deeper into what is on offer in this year’s version.
Thankfully, our improved Premier League experience didn’t stop after the first match either. Fifa 15 features all twenty current Premier League stadiums, from the sky high views in the top tier of Newcastle United‘s Saint James’ Park to the wooden seats at Burnley’s Turf Moor, every stand and detail is recreated perfectly. Even small details such as animated advertising boards and the correct placement of away fans within a ground are included in Fifa 15, and this goes a long way to not only making it feel like a real football match, but also a living and breathing stadium. Players get dirt on their shirts as the game progresses, corner flags move when they are interacted with in a goal celebration, and fans chant songs specific to their team, just like in real life. All these little elements make Fifa 15 feel alive.
Coupled with the improved Premier League experience, commentary has also been given some enhancements. Following the events of the 2014 World Cup, commentators will discuss certain events that affected the players on the pitch. Martin Tyler and Alan Smith will mention Steven Gerrard’s header to Luis Suarez which lead to Uruguay’s second goal against England, as well as Sergio Aguero’s lack of goals for Argentina. But it doesn’t stop there, Tyler and Smith will also converse on happenings in lower leagues too such as QPR’s last minute goal against Derby County in the Championship Play-Off Final. These are the sort of things commentators mention in real life so to see them here in Fifa 15 helps the game feel even more lifelike, and helps to create the perfect Premier League experience.
Bridging the gap between videogame and reality is the brand new Match Day Live centre, which is streamlined to fit the team you support and the league they play in. Here you can play your team’s next match, view the league table and top scorers, as well as read stories based on real world events and happenings. This is a nice way to personalise your Fifa experience and catch up on anything you missed over the Footballing weekend.
Obviously one of the most important things in a new Fifa game is the way it plays and the tweaks and changes that have been made to the flow of a match, and we have good news to report in this area too. Fifa 15’s new dribbling system does wonders for the game, in that players are more responsive to your actions, furthermore accurate in their movement and passes, and hard to catch when sent to link up with a through ball. A player’s pace is once again a very important statistic in Fifa 15, and so this could be why the attacking side is sometimes favoured in a match. While these additions do improve Fifa 15’s gameplay significantly, they tend to favour the attacking side, and unfortunately defending has received very little love this year. Defending feels very similar to Fifa 14, and considering the amount of gameplay enhancements that have been made to improve the attacking side’s dribbling, this can feel a bit unfair sometimes. Players must manually keep track of their position on the field and use the tackle/slide tackles options liberally. In next year’s Fifa 16, we hope EA spends the same amount of time on upgrading defending and bringing it on par with the flair of Fifa 15’s attacking options. One real annoyance in Fifa 14 was the lack of a way to skip the small cutscenes in-between throw-ins and corners, but this has issue has been addressed this year. Now players can simply tap the A button to skip any unneeded stoppages in play and get right back into the action. A bunch of new animations were also developed forFifa 15, with an emphasis on goalkeepers. Now, keepers will react to shots, corners, pass backs and crosses in a more realistic way.
Both attacking and defending have seen improvements in the tactics department, as Fifa 15 brings in two new play styles. The tactic that Jose Mourinho made famous, Park The Bus, is included in this year’s Fifa, which sees all your players get behind the ball ready for a prolonged attack from the opposition. On the attacking front, All Out Attack makes your players move up the pitch by a considerable margin as they look for a goal your team desperately needs. Both of these tactics are very useful in certain situations, although we wish they could be customised a little. In the case of All Out Attack, regularly we would see a centre back joining the strikers upfront but then never retreating back when they lost possession. This can be very damaging when the opposition launches a counter-attack, because you might not have enough defenders back to defend your goal and thus possibly concede. We suppose that this is part of the risk in switching to All Out Attack, but a little customisation in which players actually do the attacking would be greatly appreciated. These preset tactics can only be used in Fifa Ultimate Team mode, but in career mode you are able to create your own with specific individual payer instructions. The whole tactics screen has also been given a new lick of paint, which makes it easier and quicker to make changes to your squad, such as a position change or a role adjustment. Tactics are one example of what can be managed via the voice recognition now implemented - it works well, enabling you to change on the fly anything preset but with a level of customization here, too, allowing you to change to your tactics.
Fifa Ultimate Team is by far Fifa’s most popular game mode, and it too has received some enhancements. Teams can now loan players into their club and make them a part of their squad for a limited number of matches, with the loan spell being determined by what tier of card they are, gold cards are a short loan while bronze cards stay with your club for much longer. You are given a choice of four different players to loan in to your club at the beginning of your career, and from then on you can loan in a select few other players via the in-game catalogue. While it is fun to get a world class player on loan and use them for a few matches, it was disappointing that you can only access them through the catalogue, which is dependent on your current level in the game. In next year’s Fifa we’d like to see a full loan market which would run alongside the transfer market, and offer lower level players the opportunity to play as some of the world’s greats.
One other addition to Fifa Ultimate Team is concept squads, and here you can plan out and research the best squad to fit your needs. Based on individual leagues, you can customise a squad and fill it with the best players to get the highest rating and the best chemistry level. Concept squads can’t be used in matches, but if you want to plan out a team without spending the coins, this is the best place to do it.
EA have struck pure gold with Fifa 15, the series is back where it needs to be following the few setbacks of Fifa 14, and this year’s additions have taken it to a whole new level. The improved Premier League experience and commentary gives the player a real sense of purpose and occasion as they soak up the atmosphere from the fans, and then the teams take to the pitch where Fifa 15’s new dribbling system can be enjoyed to its fullest. We hope that EA brings a little customisation to the new tactics and an improved defence system with next year’s iteration, but these are only minor flaws in what is an utterly fantastic game. If you like Football, you must play Fifa 15.