FIFA 15 Review

EA builds on success and comes up a winner
EA Sports is pulling a Manchester City with this one. Just like the current Premier League champions, EA has resisted the temptation to break up a winning formula since last season and instead of bringing in fancy new additions, it’s only tweaking the areas that are necessary to lead it to another championship this term.

Those of you expecting a complete revolution will be a tad disappointed, because FIFA 15 hasn’t just splurged on changes for the sake of it. but even without stuff like mega-shot™ and all the other bells and whistles that eA used to needlessly cram in each year, FIFA 15 has never played a better a game of football.

regular players will fire up the game and instantly note that the menus have barely changed. Play for long enough and you’ll hear repeated lines from FIFA 14 coming out of the mouths of Alan Smith and martin Tyler (Townsend and Tyldesley have been axed). And even the minigames are mostly the same as last time out.

To summarise the surface new stuff: players and the pitch look exceptional, the Turkish league is now in, emotional Intelligence (read: player reactions) feels purely cosmetic and has barely any bearing on proceedings. Oh, and you can now see shirts being pulled. Got it? Good. Instead, eA has used its time to improve the thing that matters most: gameplay.

“Some crunches look like train wrecks with wingers Strewn across the grass”

Keeping it real

Out on the pitch, the improvements are subtle, yet game-changing. defender snow turn with purpose and can catch scampering attackers instead of standing still and scratching their backsides. AlI team-mates burst into space on the overlap or cut inside ready to pick up a return ball, even if you don’t call for a one-two pass. And goalkeepers are now more adept at stopping the ball than
they’ve ever been. You can even control the receiver of a goal-kick, free-kick, corner or throw-in too instead of just flinging the ball and hoping for the best.

What’s most impressive is that even through the many, many hours of play,we’re still yet to stumble across something predictable. No longer will the same attacking approach likely reap dividends, so you have to vary your play even more. Surefire angles to blast in goals inside the 18-yard box have also been nixed thanks to some canny goalkeeping animations that will have you applauding saves. even those easy headed goals where your attacker would mangle a defender in the air have been replaced with a more balanced approach.

The biggest difference to all before it is that FIFA 15’s ball feels like it could go anywhere. Not like it will suddenly head to the moon like a Jason Puncheon penalty, but the detachment makes you think you can do anything when passing, shooting or playing a defence-splitting long ball. It’s because of this new approach to the ball that we’ve been banging in some of the most glorious goals we’ve ever seen.

We scored one goal with Zlatan Ibrahimovic that literally raised us out of our seats. The ball was bouncing out of touch on the halfway line, Zlatan jumped to chest it forward and in one move half-volleyed the ball goalwards. It was merely a speculative effort, but it rattled in off the underside of the crossbar. cue: jumping, cheering and a little jig around the lounge. And FIFA 15 is packed full of magic moments like this. From nutmegging the goalie after a mazy run to thundercrackers that would snap a keeper’s arm if they got near it, we’re yet to see two goals the same.

Looming over

Speaking of mazy runs, FIFA 15 has finally fixed dribbling. FIFA has always been full of fancy trick animations to pass an opponent, but its standard weaving game has been weaker than Peter crouch trying to use a loom.

Players now jink and swivel their bodies with weighty accuracy at the press of a left stick. The likes of Angel di maria, marco reus and raheem Sterling can slice defences like a hot machete through lard. And thanks to the tweaks they can now escape close encounters with opponents and carry on dancing down the pitch, rather than lose the ball immediately. The new body balance physics also mean that sprint speed dribbles are like a beautiful slalom, with sharp moves bamboozling defenders.
Just don’t expect to do this with cloggers like Phil Jagielka.

midfield dynamos

defenders do get their moments of glory, mind. Aerial duels in FIFA 15 are no longer in favour of the attackers, and you’ll have to outwit the big beasts at the back with movement if you want to score with a header. defences are sturdier and tackles are more effective. There’s a certain satisfaction to sliding across a wet pitch, carving out a long mud streak and taking the ball and man in one move. Some crunches look like train wrecks with wingers strewn across the grass. And thankfully, the men at the back no longer do that annoying animation where they forget how to turn and then throw a lazy leg out long after the opposition has scored. It’s refined and makes for a much more balanced game.

FIFA 15 also increase the impact of creative midfielders. With FIFA 14 allowing near enough every player on the pitch to play exquisite through balls or deft chipped passes, the midfield maestros like Xavi, Pirlo and david Silva just blended in with the rest. but with a combination of those new body balance physics we talked about and the ability to play passes like no-one else, they really come into their own. Long cross-field passes, cute one-twos and neat positional play that sees them move into space to receive the ball, make them superb. And it might just be a trick of the mind, but players around these pass masters seem to make more runs in anticipation of some world-class distribution.

FIFA 15 isn’t perfect, mind. There are still some quirky animations in here that occasionally burst the realism bubble. Keepers are still prone to howlers, and a number of goals still come from daft rebounds off their lanky frames. Also the Finesse Shot appears to have been nerfed in such a way we barely use it now, which is a real shame.

but make no mistake, this is the best game of football around. eA has evolved its engine rather than revolutionised it, and it’s worked a treat. With friends or without, FIFA 15 plays a rock solid game of football and looks destined for glory again. Your move, Konami.


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