Reviewed on PS4
The FIFA series is one which has been going since 1993 and has graced nearly every capable gaming machine in its time. It is difficult not to be cynical about how EA trots out a new game each year with seemingly only incremental changes, yet the demand is clearly there and football after all is a global sport.
EA released the demo for FIFA 15 on 9th September in order to satisfy the hunger of football fans and gamers alike for the new release. Touted this year as improvements over last years FIFA 14 include ‘authentic player visuals’, essentially making the players look more athletic, heightened player control and improved goalkeepers. After playing the demo for a substantial time I can give my first impressions of the game.
First of all, goalkeepers. Much of the criticism which has been aimed at the series in the past has focussed on the poor reactions of goalkeepers and odd errors which are not realistic. EA have dramatically increased the number of goalkeeper animations in FIFA 15, new saves are possible as an increased AI level. This seems to have translated well into the game. Not only are the goalkeepers much improved now, there are now many more ways to score e.g. through the keeper’s legs or by deflections. This is not to say that more goals are scored. In fact, in some instances goalkeepers seem a touch over-powered, to the point where they make miraculous saves. However, it should be noted that the demo is likely an early build of FIFA 15 and so this could change in the final release. Though I may just be rubbish at the game.
Another noticeable improvement is player control. Whereas before dribbling with players felt slightly cumbersome and difficult to control, it now handles extremely well. With the right player it is possible to dribble with relative ease past defending players, which makes the gameplay much more exciting and unpredictable. Acceleration also seems to be much more effective in comparison to FIFA 14. If a player is fast then it is far easier for them to outpace defenders which again makes the game more realistic.
One feature which EA also seems to be pushing is emotional intelligence. It would not be a lie to say that previous entries have not portrayed well the typical reactions of footballers throughout a match. Whereas beforehand a bad tackle would not elicit a reaction from the recipient, now players can react angrily if they feel aggrieved. Similarly, game changing moments such as spectacular goals from the halfway line will be appreciated by other players on the pitch. Although this is not obvious in the actual gameplay, EA has incorporated this emotional intelligence well into the cut scenes which have also increased in number, making each match much more of a tele-visual experience.
Ultimately, the demo is extremely promising in terms of next-gen FIFA, after the somewhat disappointing FIFA 14. It is unlikely that critics of the series will be swayed by this entry, but fans will certainly continue to lap it up.
FIFA 15 is now available on PS3, PS4, PlayStation Vita, Wii, Nintendo 3DS, Xbox One, Xbox 360, PC, iOS and Android.