There are so many things that I dislike about Fifa 15. The unreliable servers that kick you out of games at the worst possible times; the yearly “improvements” that only seem to make the game less realistic (the goalkeepers this year); the inconsistent visuals that occasionally make the game look like a cheap horror movie and the expensive Ultimate Team mode are just some of the problems that consistently frustrate. However, strangely, I cannot stop playing it.
Aside from being a huge football fan and therefore wanting to be immersed in any game that is football related, there are a number of features that keep me coming back for more. Ultimate Team is probably the most obvious. It is comfortably the most popular game mode as anyone who has played Fifa probably knows. It sees players create a team from every footballer in the world and play matches against people from around the world in a league or tournament system. Although the matches are slightly faster paced than the single player modes it is the creating of the your own team that is so addictive, rather than the gameplay. The matches are certainly fun when they work as they should but it is the opening of packs, the trading and competition between friends for who has the best team that prolongs Fifa 15’s appeal. I’ve spent hundreds of pounds over the last few years on just opening packs with the hope of getting a player worth a lot of in-game money. Inevitably, I regret the decision almost every time as when the contents of the pack flashes onto the screen it dawns on me that everything in it is useless. However, it is the joy I feel in the rare moments when something worthwhile appears that keeps me coming back for more and the ‘Team of the Week’ players that EA release each week make the opening of packs even more appealing. I then take the players I receive online where I play matches against other people and this is where the game’s problems appear. The issues I have encountered may just be a result of me not being very good but a lot of matches lead to frustration and I simply turn the game off.
When I get bored or frustrated with Ultimate Team there are 3 or 4 other good modes to play instead, the best of of which being ‘Career Mode’. Here you choose a real life team and either undertake the role of manager or a player. The manager mode is essentially a scaled down version Football Manager (another very addictive game) as you sign players and develop youth players in an attempt to win matches and please the invisible and annoyingly demanding owners. The ability to ‘sim’ matches make seasons quite quick and you get to see how players grow and improve as they play more games and become more experienced. Last year I shamefully managed to reach the year 2028 with Arsenal and the world’s 15 best players were part of my team, none of whom even exist when you start the game. Developing young players over the years and making your favourite team the best in the world is very addictive and as the matches themselves are slower paced the familiar gameplay problems aren’t as regular. The player mode is similar but your main aim is to develop a single player, that you create, and make him the best in the world. Only controlling one player can get dull during matches but slowly improving your creation with each goal or decent pass ensures you want to play match after match. I have often finished a match with the intention of stopping only to realise that I am close to an upgrade, ‘forcing’ me to play another match.
The other modes are ‘Seasons mode’, ‘Pro Clubs’ and of course ‘Kick Off’. Seasons mode of simple. Players pick a real team and play other people online in attempt to reach the top of the ten divisions. It is certainly not as addictive as the more complex Ultimate Team mode but it is fun if you would rather use an existing team than a custom one. Pro Clubs is a chance to use the player you created for career mode online with up to 21 other people. Its fast, frantic and designed as a place to mess around with friends but the matchmaking is a bit inconsistent and you often come across players that just mess around. I’d rather play games with my friends in Fifa’s other modes. Unfortunately, both these modes feature the typical Fifa issues. I have seen in-game players run off the pitch to retrieve the ball, only to refuse to come back. I’ve seen linesmen slowly run across the pitch as the match continues around them. Also, no players have arms that function as arms as they pass through other players and even goalposts. These aren’t game-breaking problems but they diminish the overall experience and make a mostly good-looking game look unnecessarily amateurish.
Kick Off is the classic mode where you can play multiplayer matches locally. Beating friends in the comfort of your own home is always satisfying, especially in larger groups but since some teams are so much better than others you often have matches involving the same teams.
Ultimately, I’m not addicted to Fifa 15 in the way people are to games like World of Warcraft. I don’t play for hours and hours on end without moving but I’ll often play for an hour, turn it off, and then return to it just half an hour later. The number of great modes and the addictive intricacies in each one ensure I’m able to look beyond the games frustration issues and once the appeal of one mode dies down, I move onto another, then another and so on, ensuring I’m always addicted.
Fifa 15 is available on Playstation 4, Xbox One and Playstation 3 now.