FIFA 15 – Review

Title   FIFA 15
Developer  EA Canada
Publisher  EA Sports
Platform  Windows PC, PS3, PS4, PS Vita, Nintendo 3DS, Wii, Xbox 360, Xbox One
Genre  Football management/simulation
Release Date  September 25th, 2014
Official Site

FIFA 15, the latest iteration in EA’s long-running sphere-kicking simulation series, is here and ready to delight and frustrate the well-established fanbase in equal measure. Now, I’ve been playing these things for a couple of decades now but this is my first proper go on a this-gen FIFA. As ever, what you get for your considerable chunk of cash is the most complete simulation of the beautiful/horrible game (delete as applicable. I support QPR, so right now I’ll pick the latter). The attention to detail is evident as soon as you pick a game mode. Broadcast-style camera angles show the build up to the matches, including the handshakes, players warming up, the referee getting ready and a whole host of nice touches (that you’ll be frantically button mashing through to get to the actual kick-off).

Right away, everything is represented in lavish detail from the licensed players and kits to the detailed stadiums and crowds. It literally looks like you’re watching football on TV, even down to the team line-ups, logos and other broadcast details that are there for the Sky Sports generation. Once the action kicks off, the level of detail continues to impress. I zoomed the default camera in a little to help me appreciate the additional detail on offer from this, the PS4 version, and it’s ridiculous. Players can control a ball with a huge variation in skill, leading to a head-spinning number of potential animations, and they now react with various levels of hissy-fitting thanks to the new ‘emotion’ engine. Kits dirty up, pitches deform and you’ll barely notice because of how much detail EA have crammed into every frame.

The gameplay however offers nothing new. This year is a ‘slow’ year, which means EA have dropped the speed a little and fans will either moan about that or declare that the game is more ‘methodical’ and ‘deliberate’ than last time. Either way, it really makes very little difference as the footballing action has been nailed down since EA’s Euro 2008 tie-in (the last major revelation in the series) and everything since has been a tweak, not necessarily an improvement. That said, the amount of freedom for expression in these games is always good. You can short pass your opponents to death or opt for skill and pace to cut through defences. It depends on you and I appreciate that. It’s just a shame that I can play FIFA 09 or FIFA 15 and not have to really adapt my play style at all. Even when there is a console generation gap inbetween those titles.

In terms of tweaks, as I said, the game is a little slower than usual. Goalkeepers are now human leopards who seem to be able to get to whatever corner you’re aiming the ball at and they’ve toned down the collision physics a bit (which is good, as recent FIFA games have really overdone those), but beyond that there’s not a huge amount of difference between this and FIFA 14 and if you think there is, there’s probably less between this and FIFA 13 then.

In terms of game modes, you’ve got the usual collection of them. Offline play has the typical matches, cups and tournaments as well as the more meaty Career modes. You can either play as a manager, picking formations and buying players, in classic Football Manager style, or you can be a player and develop their statistics by performing well on the pitch. Both modes are as addictive as ever, if you can be bothered to start them. After all they’ve been around for many years now and you’ll have no doubt played them in previous FIFAs.

Online is what most FIFA players are buying this for and it’s as solid as ever. Your best bet is to play with friends and just have fun, or you can play against randoms and open a gateway of piss and misery into your life. You also have the Ultimate Team mode, which would be an excellent and addictive player collecting mode but, unfortunately, it is very slow and plodding unless you want to spend real cash. And people will do that because people are idiots. A host of training mini-games are on offer if that’s your bag. I tend to enjoy them a lot and there are many of them to attempt but, beyond that, FIFA 15 isn’t bringing anything new to the table this year. As I said before, they really nailed the gameplay in 2008 and everything since then has been a minor revision.

So, as ever, the advice is to avoid this if you own a recent FIFA; get FIFA 14 if you have a PS4 and a burning need to play a football game on it, or just buy this if you simply must stay up to date. In a world with no FIFA, producing this game would get you labelled as a witch and burned for using magic, but in a world where FIFA comes out every year, there’s no reason to lose FIFA 14 and get this one. The Pro Evolution Soccer demo this year is very good and you may want to see how the full game fares in November before shelling out the money for FIFA 15. Or not. Who am I? Your mother?

  • Fantastic visuals and attention to detail
  • Expressive, compelling football gameplay
  • Too similar to previous FIFAs to warrant the full spend
  • Trademark terrible menu system
  • Horrible soundtrack
  • Can feel a bit slow
  • Yeah, it's all good and whatever but would it fancy Burnley on a cold Tuesday night?

Stunning graphics? Check. Near-perfect footballing gameplay? Check. Obsessive attention to detail. Check. Same game as last year. Check. God damn, this is a great game but it's still just FIFA. It'll make more money than the average Premier League player anyway, but you may want to think twice before you add to that total.

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