FIFA 15 Review

The last time I picked up a FIFA title was when I purchased a new 360 that came with FIFA 09 since I consider myself more of a casual sports gamer than most. This year I was actually excited to see how the franchise has moved forward in the past 5 years and see if it really is more than just a glorified roster update. I’ve always followed along with what the series was doing, but it never really made me feel like I needed to pay for a few roster changes or boosted player stats.

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Before you start a match there is a little mini game that you can play to rank yourself up that includes a variety of tests like hitting targets in a shootout like mode or making shots from different angles. This portion of the game really had me hooked and I just had to make all three shots before I even started the match I was about to play. What really made it enjoyable was that it actually helped me learn a few of the special moves and how to take penalty shots better, so it was actually a great self-ran tutorial with a casual approach for someone like myself who is not familiar with the controls.
Right from my first match I was slapped in the face with how overly complicated this game has gotten since my last go in 09′. Honestly FIFA 15 should utilize the four buttons and triggers included on your controller, but now there are combos using a variety of complex button arrangements to do simple things like nutmegs and skill moves. This really can deter the casual fan like me from playing even though you can change the controller setting manually to two button play to make it feel like you were playing on the Sega Genesis. I tried this configuration and found it was easier to use than the standard mode since I couldn’t precisely control my passes or shots using all four million button combos to do things. The control learning curve is steep and will take anyone new to the series or the casual sports gamer a long time to master the controls instead of being able to just jump in on the action and enjoy the game while learning them by trial and error.

 

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Apart from the offense I noticed that the role of the defender in FIFA 15 is much harder and it seems as if the offensive side of the game has been boosted to make it faster paced and high powered. Chances of scoring more often than not isn’t a bad thing if your team has a good offensive striking front, but if you are on the defensive end of the spectrum you’ll be finding this a bit frustrating just as I did while trying to stop the computer from going on a scoring rampage. Goalkeepers pick up the slack for the rest of the defense and are completely realistic making the hard saves and putting up a good fight to keep their team in the match. There are no more “soft” goals in this game because EA finally made the goalkeeper a viable position and not an afterthought.
There is also a nice feature with Kinect enabled controls which allow you to change your game plan or players during the course of a match with a simple voice command. I tried this out with each match I played and it worked flawlessly every time I said “Change player” then the players name for a substitution. You can even say “pass the ball” and your player will do so. I used to think that the Kinect was just an accessory to the Xbox and not really good for anything, kind of like tits on a bull, but I truly think these voice commands are a groundbreaking asset when wanting to change things mid-game without fumbling through the menus and buttons. The menus on FIFA 15 are easy to navigate and simple for even the newest FIFA player to figure out and get to where they want to be. In fact this may be the best menu layout for any sports game I’ve ever played in a long time and really adds to your enjoyment so you can find every mode of the game with ease. Game modes seem to be the same as they always have been with FIFA where you have your season and tournament modes.

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Ultimate Team has been one of FIFA’s premiere game modes over the last few years and I was excited to sink my teeth into it. Building your dream team has never been so enjoyable and now teams can loan players into their club to make them part of the team for a short period. Each player is graded on the Olympic medal standard, Gold being the best, Silver better than average and Bronze your run of the mill team filler. The contracts each of these players has depends on their rank, the better the player the shorter the time you get to use them and vice versa. While it is a blast using superstars for a while, once their contract expires you must choose another from a catalogue of players which is entirely dependent with your level in FIFA. This is the only feature I didn’t find appealing because you shouldn’t have to grind out experience to level up just to play as some of the great footballers in the world. There is also something called concept squads that allows you to research and plan out the best crew that fits your need or style. Doing this allows your team to have the best possible chemistry and players. Sadly this can’t be used in matches, but it is a great way to build a dream team without shelling out the coins to do so.
There is also a career mode that has a sports RPG-like quality to it where you make your own player and follow them throughout their journey, but this feature is the norm and present in many sports games today to immerse gamers in a different way than running through a season. On the multiplayer side of the game not much has changed since my early days of playing football online. When you lose, you lose big and when you are winning the other guy quits to dashboard. Although this has to do with the community and not the game per say, it is still worth mentioning if you live to play against random people and is one of the reasons I stopped playing online sports matches. Either you’re really good online or you just plain suck playing PvP, I fall into the latter so I find myself playing out a season or two and then let the game sit. However there is an addition of “friendly seasons” this year for both season play and Ultimate Team where you can play against a friend to see who wins a 10 match mini-season. This is much more enjoyable than playing against random mouth breathers on the internet, plus you get to rub it in every time you play the next match who won the last.

 

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Visually FIFA 15 has to be one of the prettiest football games I’ve ever played. The player detail is spot on and you can tell who the guys are on your team are by their facial features and not just the number on their back. Playing at home stadiums that make you feel like you’re actually there with the fans chanting and real-life commentary truly gives a play by play and has come a long way in the past 5 years. One thing I like about the game is the way the players react to certain situations in the game, for example when they are tackled and there is a penalty they react like they would in real life or when a game is tied and a goal is made the tension and emotion built up in that game is expressed by the whole team and isn’t something you see in any other sports game. While this may not mean much to some, it truly adds to the thrill of a goal or the let down of a shot that went wide or a great save by the keeper in the final seconds of the match. The intensity is felt throughout the game and gives the player a real sense of what being a football fan is all about.

 

If there is one thing that is a constant in autumn, it is the weather changing, another Call of Duty release and sports games with an updated roster and graphics overhaul. Although I’m sure the more hardcore football fans will enjoy this title, the casual gamer won’t put daily time into it to fully understand the complexity of the controls. At the end of the day most people just want to jump on their console, have a few matches and go to bed, but with FIFA 15 it feels like I need a manual to learn all the moves and tricks or even get a personal videogame trainer to teach me so that I stand a chance against the computer. There are a ton of game modes to choose from so that you’ll never lose interest or become frustrated to the point of never playing again. The online community leaves much to be desired, but it is hard to argue that playing against others really brings out the competitive nature of the game but having a group of friends to play against is what sports games have been about since back before FIFA 09. Graphics are amazing and the attention to the emotion of the game really brings it to life making FIFA 15 the football experience any true fan needs to be part of if they want to bring it to a console.

 

Score  7.5 /10 – Reviewed by Jerry Wise

 

Review Code Supplied by Team Xbox UK.

Written by: Rob Cram

Rob Cram has hundreds of video game reviews, thousands of articles under his belt with years of experience in gaming and tech. He aims to remain fair and free from publisher/developer influence. With his extensive knowledge, feels his gaming opinions are valid and worth sharing. Agreement with his views are entirely optional. He might have a bias towards cyberpunk.

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