FIFA 15 Review

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Posted September 29, 2014 by Bryan Boshart in Video Games

FIFA 15

Developed By: EA Canada

Published By: EA Sports

Release Date: September 23 2014

Available For: PC, PS3, PS4 (reviewed), Xbox 360, Xbox One

I was down by a goal to Dortmund near the end of second half stoppage time. I had just stolen the ball away from the Dortmund midfielder with Phillip Lahm. The player who I stole the ball from was overly aggressive and tripped Lahm, giving him a free kick.  This free kick would likely be the final play of the match. Lahm hits it straight to an open area, Lewandowski lunges with his foot and re-directs the ball into net to even the score.

As a sport, soccer is about moments like this, and FIFA 15 does a solid job at replicating the moments that make soccer incredible. This is in part due to the emotional intelligence system touted by FIFA 15. To add to the realism, players will put up their arms when they perceive a foul, and seemingly act more aggressively toward players who’ve fouled them. The Emotional Intelligence is a bit of a mixed bag though, as the tendency for a random moment of emotion to ruin what should be a logical play. For example, in the same game as the one I was playing above, the Dortmund defender tried to plead for an offside call, though my attacking player was just onside giving me a clear path to goal before the defender could react. As my player ran in the goalie came to meet him, and managed to just get a fingertip on my chip shot attempt preventing my goal.

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Fifa 15 still controls like a sports car. It’s both natural and rewarding when you bob and weave your way through a defense with clever dribbling. Taking a good first touch after a pass is still just as intuitive as ever. Passing is mostly crisp though occasionally I ended up passing to the wrong player due to a slightly over-charged press of the pass button. It’s harder to get a good shot off now, but that’s a nod to the improvement of the A.I. more than a knock on the controls. It takes a bit of work to learn how each shot works on a goalie, but as you learn the applications of each your game will grow exponentially.

Defense is a little harder to pick up, as the automatic player change after a pass takes some getting used to. The basic play on defense comes down to risk-reward assessment. You may choose to go for a slide tackle to steal a ball, but if an attacker sees and reacts to that, then you’ll probably wind up getting carded. Often the safest approach is to just guide the attacker to the sidelines to limit his options, but the attacker will be able to milk time off the clock that way. Most of the game boils down to that risk-reward assessment, and a bad decision will put your opponent one stop closer to a goal.

The career mode is still my favorite mode to play, and luckily it remains pretty much the same as previous years. There are so many different ways to take a player through his career, and it’s still brilliant to make in game accomplishments what actually improves a player’s stats as opposed to an experience system. There are a few problems with the mode though. The pro camera in FIFA 15 is frequently twitchy, especially when I got to the corner or sideline and it caused me more than once to pass in the wrong direction. Additionally, when the coach tells me to “park the bus” I found my player hemorrhaging match rating for literally no reason. A few minor problems, but they don’t detract from a fantastic mode. Ultimate Team mode is also back, and it’s just addicting collecting new players as ever. Ultimate Team mode has even added in a “loan” feature to help temporarily upgrade your team, though it’s balanced with a high price tag.

In match, the defensive A.I. is much improved. Defenders will properly use their bodies to slow an attacker down, giving their help time to get there. From my time playing too, it seems like defenders are more likely to get in the way of a shot or cross then they were in previous iterations of the franchise. It also appears that the defenders are more aggressive with their challenges. Frequently I’ve lost the ball to a slide tackle, though it makes it more satisfying to dodge a tackle completely giving you an open path to the net. The aggressive A.I. also tends to give you more opportunities to draw fouls with clever play. Sadly, there appears to be a bit of a catch-up mechanic with the defenders. Oddly, the defense in FIFA 15 seems a bit to eager to kick the ball out of play instead of sending the ball back to the keeper or just clearing it deep. There are multiple occasions when I’ve been chased down easily by a slower defender when I’ve was sprinting up-field with my fastest players. At least the mechanic works against the A.I. as well, so at least you can chose to be a little aggressive defensively.

Goalies also have improved A.I. Goalies are harder to beat now, and are able to get their hands on most shots.The new save animations are impressive, and goalies will contort in amazing ways to stop shots. It makes it all the more rewarding when you manage to deke the goalie in a one-on-one move to score. It seems a little easier than in past titles to score short side when running up from the corner, though I can’t say for certain if that’s a side effect of the new focus on

One of my favorite features is the ability to set up custom team sheets for any team you’d like from the main menu. This lets you set player match-ups that work more smoothly against certain teams or strategies. This is particularly useful in cups or tournaments where you can quickly set up an extra defender when you only need a draw without having to waste time before the match.

Goal-line technology via the Premier League

Goal-line technology via the Premier League

The game looks crisp and fluid, and every bump and jostle for the ball is captured realistically thanks to the Ignite engine. In the default camera setting you won’t get to appreciate it much from far away, but when the game moves in for a corner kick or other set piece you’ll really notice how crisp the players look. The realistic players help draw you in to the celebrations and help the game feel a tad more real. The iconic stadiums are all here and show off their grandeur in the pre-game flyovers. With a new engine come some glitches, but they seem less frequent in FIFA 15 as they were in other EA sports games this year.

The atmosphere is one of the most important elements of soccer, and it’s something that FIFA 15 gets right. Fans react properly to your play on the field and you’ll find the home fans whistling (booing) you if you play poorly. The atmosphere is further improved thanks to having the full EPL experience. Everything down to the television overlays is spot on and takes these matches to another level. Goal-line technology is even included, though it’s a bit redundant when the game is already right on these. Playing in front of the crowds singing the various team songs is exhilarating and helps take Premier League matches to the next level. That said, I’m sure fans of the other leagues would love to see that level of realism adapted for their teams in future titles. The problem is, FIFA 15 seems almost a little too focused on the atmosphere of the games. Between play interludes showing old fouls and goals are are a cool idea, but they get in the way sometimes when you just want to play. Martin and Tyler’s commentary does a solid job at capturing the ebb and flow of the match, but it seems like there is a bit too much emphasis on how a player performed during the World Cup (it’s more annoying when it still happens in year 2017 of my player’s career).

FIFA 15 does a great job at showing off the moments that make soccer great, and because of that it’s more than worth picking up.


About the Author

Bryan Boshart

Hey, I'm Bryan. I write video game reviews here at We The Nerdy. In my spare time I mostly play fighting games, but play almost anything.

 
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