Over the last month EA Sports has released two of their major sports games, but this week brought perhaps the most popular of all with FIFA 15. Unlike their other series, FIFA already received another entry earlier this year based around the FIFA World Cup. However, that game was a last-gen exclusive, so FIFA 14 remained the only game to grace the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One until now. Unlike Madden’s first current-gen entry last November, which was extremely bare-bones and required a major overhaul for this year’s much improved edition, FIFA 14 was very well received and laid excellent groundwork for this year’s game.
Just like we saw over the last month with Madden NFL 15 and NHL 15, FIFA 15 starts up by putting us right into the action with a game between Liverpool and Manchester City. This pre-set matchup can be exited at any time, but serves as an excellent way for you to become familiar with FIFA 15. Once done with this game, you will be sent to the main menu for the game, which should look pretty familiar to those that have played any recent EA Sports titles. However, this one feels more streamlined than ever. Rather than having to choose modes like Career and then choose whether you want to start a new one or load an old one, all you have to do is flick the right analog stick to the right to find further options. This is also available for other modes in the game, including some that branch off beyond the typical load and new options.
For anyone new to FIFA, it is almost a necessity to start with the Skill Games mode, which is as good as always this year. With 14 various types to choose from, including shooting, passing, and defending, each of which come with four levels of difficulty, FIFA 15 provides excellent learning tools for newcomers. However, it is still very useful for veterans looking to fine tune their football skills. This can be taken further with the Practice Arena, which in combination with the Skill Games are a vast improvement on EA Canada’s practice mode in NHL 15 from just a couple weeks ago.
As with most games in the sports genre, graphics and presentation are very important, especially with the capabilities of the now current-gen consoles. Luckily, FIFA 15 provides the best looking football action you will find in a video game, which is enhanced by new character models and improved lighting all around. Perhaps the most impressive is how the clothing and field itself dirties and wears as the matches play on, especially in wet weather.
Emotion plays a major role in FIFA 15 as well, which is a vital part of the sport.
The Barclays Premier League is one of the most popular leagues in the world and in turn it got a lot of attention by the developers to make it as true to life as possible. This was exemplified by the level of detail throughout all 20 stadiums found in the BPL, including real life audio being implemented into matches. Emotion is a vital part of the sport, and thankfully it plays a major role in FIFA 15 as well. FIFA 15 has modeled the emotions for all 22 players on the field, with emotional responses being possible from any one of them during certain situations. This could have have gone awry with non-realistic reactions to in-game moments, but the developers managed to implement it to near perfection. Atmosphere is even more important however, so the inclusion of more dynamic presentation in tandem with the emotional aspect brings each match to life. When playing, you can actually feel momentum shifting throughout the crowd after that clutch goal or defensive stop. Past FIFA games have featured this, but FIFA 15 seems to take it to a whole new level.
The physics in FIFA 15 are no slouch either, as the game provides the realistic gameplay that you expect from the series. The incredibly complex world of football is translated as well as it ever has this time around. Players are able to be controlled very precisely, with you even able to stop at the drop of a hat while dribbling and change directions at any time. Past games have done a great job with this as well, but like so many other elements it seems even more improved in this year’s iteration.
The goalkeeper position is arguably the most important in football, as they are the last line of defense against the opposing team. As a result EA Canada saw fit to bring a lot of focus to the position during their development cycle. The goalkeepers weren’t exactly a problem in the past, but FIFA 15 has improved them immensely. Enhancing their design, movement, and even the aforementioned emotional aspect. Their incredible reactions to shots are just one example of how this game truly shines. While the goalkeeper is vastly improved, the rest of the AI in the game is not always perfect. It isn’t something that plagues the game, but the AI for both your teammates and the members of the opposing team often react in unrealistic ways. Hopefully this can be remedied with patches in the future, as it is one of the few misses in FIFA 15.
The Player Career mode is always my favorite in any sports game and is often where I spend most of my time. That is certainly no different with FIFA 15. At the start, you have the option to create your own player or use an existing player. Naturally, I had to create and put myself on an MLS team. EA Game Face is back and actually worked well here, though it would be nice if they could have implemented something similar to the face scanning technology that the upcoming NBA 2K15 is going to include. After you get your character created, you will be given four objectives that you are supposed to meet throughout the next season, two primary and two secondary. These include objectives like a certain number of goals to score in the season or more in-depth objectives, such as staying above a certain shots made percentage. Beyond the objectives, you also have a ton of accomplishments your character can unlock, which are split into categories like Ball Skills, Shooting, Physical, and many more. Completing these allows your character to increase his stats, so basically it serves as a skill tree, like in many RPGs.
Unlike most single player career modes in other sports games, here you have the option to control just your one player or the entire team while in a game. This is a great choice to have, as you can take control of the full team in the big games where you don’t want to be reliant on the game’s AI elsewhere on the field. Manager Career allows for a different way to play through an entire career. It is a solid mode, but overall pales in comparison to Player Career. In Manager Career you are able to scout players to build your roster. While you have to consider various things like staying within your budget, there are no accomplishments or objectives to strive to complete here which feels like something that really should have been added.
If you’ve played an EA Sports title in recent years, you likely know exactly what Ultimate Team mode is. Being what EA Sports calls their most popular game mode, there was no doubt it would return this year once again. This year’s entry continues to prove why FIFA has the best Ultimate Team in their entire line of games. As always, you start with a group of lowly ranked players to build your roster with. However, now you get a major loan at the beginning to help jump-start your team. In my case, I had the option to take 92 overall rated Christiano Ronaldo for only two games, or a few other players that ranged in the 70s for 12, 14, or 20 games depending on the player. Chemistry is very important in your roster depending on a variety of factors, even including whether players near each other on the field are from the same country. These factors add a ton of depth and strategy to Ultimate Team mode to the point where it can quickly become very addicting to try and put the best product out there on the field.
One of the most impressive non-gameplay additions to FIFA 15 is that of Match Day Live, which is perfect for fans of the sport itself. Within this hub, you can choose your favorite team and get all the latest news and scores for just them. You can also switch to any other team with ease and find out what is going on in all of the numerous leagues around the world.
FIFA 15 takes the solid foundation provided by EA Canada’s first current-gen effort last year and improves on it even further. The gameplay and in-game physics are as good as they have ever been while the presentation and attention to detail are even more phenomenal than before. Player Career is incredibly addicting with an insane number of objectives to achieve, but Manager Career is a little lacking in that department. A lot of gamers do not pick up sports games annually, instead electing to get them every few years. However, this is one that football fans will definitely not want to miss, as EA Canada truly scored the winning goal with FIFA 15.
- Available On: Playstation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, Xbox One, PC, Wii, Nintendo 3DS, PS Vita
- Published By: EA Sports
- Developed By: EA Canada
- Genre: Sports
- US Release Date: September 23rd, 2014
- Reviewed On: Playstation 4
- Quote: "FIFA 15 builds on the solid foundation of last year's game to give the most realistic FIFA game yet, with gameplay that is out of this world."