Format – Xbox One
Ever since the days of Match Day, Kick-Off and Sensible Soccer, I have been playing football games. However, it wasn’t until the glory days of PES did I find something that captured the spirit of the beautiful game.
But times have changed and somewhere along the line, I switched allegiance to the FIFA franchise, something I never thought I would do. But with PES starting to come back into the ascendancy and FIFA having everything to prove, we take a look at EA’s latest to see how it stacks up.
Upon loading the latest instalment from EA, before anything, I choose to switch the controls to ‘Alternative’. This is man law, along with reading newspapers from the back page to the front.
Traditionally, the annual football game receives a fair amount of scorn from both gamers and critics alike. They see each release as the same game as last year, but with a few new tweaks. Yet, these days, there seems to be much more soul and passion to the footballing experience sure to keep you hooked for the next 12 months. If we are honest, there are not too many games that can fulfil that promise.
The tagline ‘Feel the Game’ sums up the experience perfectly. Once you have selected the team you support, you can visit a page dedicated to what is happening to them in the real world of football, which is a nice touch.
Martin Tyler and Alan Smith return for the commentary and even have their faces displayed next to their names so you can see that they really do have a great face for radio. All 20 Premier League stadiums have been recreated for accurate likeness in the game, complete with ad-board and the added bonus of fans singing club-authentic songs. Even an old cynic like myself suddenly feels in the game and part of a match-day atmosphere.
Some other neat new touches, include the pitch getting damaged, shirts getting dirty and players making mistakes, but thankfully FIFA 15 is not all about style over substance and the gameplay is much improved from last year thanks to slight little touches, such as changing team tactics which allow you to snatch a goal, heavily defend by ‘parking the bus’ or throw everything forward in the final minutes by switching to ‘all out attack’ However, this is not a gimmick and actually works as it would in a real game. This is ideal if you want to run out with a Tony Pulis inspired squad, or choose to adopt the Kevin Keegan tactics of yesteryear.
Another big change to the game play comes in the form of set pieces. With them, you can now receive the ball instead of being the player placing the shot. You can even pinpoint the exact spot you want the player before a free kick or a corner.
All these features are great additions and make some marked improvements from last year’s installment. However, i’m not entirely sure all change is good. My main gripe, this year, is with the goalkeepers. They’re far too inconsistent. Basically, they either seem to be able to save everything you throw at them or they make horrendous mistakes. There really doesn’t seem to be any middle ground. Of course, many would argue that this part of the course with goalkeepers anyway.
I guess the goalkeeper’s sudden effectiveness could help out with the unrealistic scorelines that have plagued FIFA since the dawn of time. But are they really so outrageous? Just last week I witnessed Leicester City come from 3-1 down to beat Manchester United 5-3. On the same day, Real Madrid beat Deportivo La Coruna 8-2. So when it comes to virtual or real football, you should always expect the unexpected.
As a personal preference, I like to play football the old fashioned way, down the wings, but this seems to have lost some of its effectiveness in FIFA 15, meaning sexy football made up of inspired dribbling around players down the middle of the pitch is a more preferred playstyle, and therefore happens more frequently.
In recent years, Ultimate Team is the mode i’ve spent considerable amounts of time with. In FIFA 15, it now has the added bonus of friendly seasons, so you can play against a friend rather than someone online who quits after 2 minutes or suddenly has incredible lag when you go 3-0 up. It’s a welcome feature and one to dive into if you fancy a quick game.
One thing is for sure, now that FIFA is well in development on new-gen, if you were to walk into a room during the match build up, you could be forgiven for thinking this was actually a real game of football. Just listening to Livepool fans passionately sing “You’ll never walk alone” will send goosebumps into overdrive. If you’re a Liverpool fan, of course.
Despite spending 12 hours on the game to soak up all the modes, I still feel I have only scratched the surface. There are so many options at your disposal, making this a must-purchase for any football fan, even if you already own FIFA 14. Whether it’s building and crafting your Ultimate Team, entering Be A Pro Mode online or tackling your own Career, there is something that will steal 4-5 hours of your time per gaming session and still leave you wanting more.
The Good Stuff
- Authentic Sky Sports style football experience
- Improvements across all game-modes
- Ultimate Team Friends seasons
- Tactical improvements allowing you to snatch a 1-0 lead and ‘Park the bus’
- In-depth attention to detail
- Emotional intelligence
The Bad Stuff
- Frustrating Goalkeepers
- Unable to skip some cut-scenes
If the world of Sky Sports, FIFA and football leaves you cold, you won’t find anything new here. However, if you want to lose yourself, living out all of your Roy of the Rovers Fantasies, then you are unlikely to find a better football game, despite the best efforts of Konami with PES.
Big releases such as Destiny will arrive with a truckload of hype only to be neglected 3 months later on your hard drive, however FIFA will still be clocking up your spare time next summer and that is the return on investment you can use to justify this purchase with your significant other. Slight technical hitches with the goalkeeper aside, this is as good as FIFA as ever been.
Technical Competency – 8/10
Graphic Quality – 9/10
Entertainment Value – 10/10
Sound Quality – 9/10
Network Stability – 9/10
Overall – 9/10