GAME NAME: FIFA 15
DEVELOPER(S): EA Canada
PUBLISHER(S): EA Sports
RELEASE DATE(S): September 23rd, 2014
I’ll start this off with a disclaimer, I haven’t played FIFA since the less then full featured Wii U version back in 2012. I will be basing my thoughts solely on the PlayStation 4 version of FIFA 15 and sadly will not be able to compare it to last year’s outing of the popular sports franchise. Now with that being said, let’s talk some footie.
Sports games in general don’t really require a story or adventure mode. The story is usually told through the duration of a match. They are single serving sessions of back and forth game play, almost like a constantly moving game of chess. Well this version of EA’s most popular sports title does a great job of giving players the authentic feel of a soccer match, from the struggle to make every score count, to the awesome late game heroics, FIFA 15 is just as exciting as watching or playing soccer in real life.
You really have two main options on how you can play FIFA. You can start your own player or you can become the GM of a franchise. When choosing to be a player, you can either choose a real player or create your own from scratch. A great addition was being able to use the PlayStation Camera to morph your selfie onto the character model. I have seen some really awesome exploits of gamers using action figures or zombies to make some ridiculously awesome players. After you have created your player, you can then sign to a football club and start out your career.
As you start off you will notice that you have a inbox for emails that your GM and agent will contact you with. You GM and manager have also given you single game and season benchmarks that you must obtain to get a stats boost. Also, in-game stat tracking will help boost your players rating as well. For example, successfully completing passes or slide tackles will help your stats in those specific areas. This mode also features a camera that is player specific and a help guider to make sure that you are in proper position at all times, as your positioning effects your single game rating. The player career mode also includes real transactions such as trading, injuries and team loans so you will get the actual experience of a real life talent.
Playing FIFA’s manager career mode gives you a taste of a few different elements. You have more overview and control of the daily operations, such as player signings, scouting, trading, contracts, etc. When you actually play games (if you decide to do so) you get to control the full roster that you have assembled to try to succeed and win whichever cup you are striving for. This mode has tons of micromanaging and may not be for everyone. At times you will want to forget about certain elements such as the scouting and just concentrate on just winning matches.
Another mode that I always have fun with is tournament mode. In this mode you can make your own World Cup (which for some reason they never include this mode) using the national teams from over 50 countries. Once you have your tournament set up, this mode is phenomenal, but setting it up and creating the tournament itself is just as clunky as the Windows 8 style Main Menus. EA feels it necessary to have you be online at all times and sign up for an EA account to log into in order to even get the roster updates.
In my playing to review FIFA 15, I had a huge issue with their online store being down which hindered my ability to play the Ultimate Team mode to it’s fullest. In Ultimate Team, you collect cards that are given to you at random through packs. You can get different tiers of packs which will give you more opportunities to get higher rated and more rare cards. Once you have a set of cards to make a team out of, you can use the combinations of different nationalities, clubs and positions to better the teams cohesiveness and make them higher rated. This is a great mode but when you can’ purchase card packs because the online store is down, that is a huge issue.
While the online store was giving me fits, playing actual online matches went as smooth as possible. In one on one bouts and even some of the league 11 vs 11 matches I never had any issues with lag or disconnects. This is definitely the pinnacle for online multiplayer for sports titles and EA needs to make sure that they give just as much love to the online in their other sports titles as they do in FIFA. Another mode that uses the online to keep you connected with the real soccer world is the gameday screen. This will have updates from real player transactions to live up to the minute scores, just another dedicated way for EA to try to bridge the real sport and the eSport experience.
Enough about the modes and presentation though, let’s get into the gameplay. If you have ever played any soccer title the controls will feel similar except with a much smoother experience. You can learn the ins and outs of each facet of the game including, dribbling, corners, penalty kicks and more through the mini games that you play before matches. These are a great way to hone your craft and learn the little nuances of the sport. I’m not going to go through and explain what each button does, but it’s your average button placement for almost any FIFA title I’ve played. The AI takes a little bit to get use to and find the perfect fit for your game style. With the use of sliders you can find the perfect difficulty level where you wont be scoring tons of goals and will make it feel like every goal means something. The character models always feel like they are part of the game and you can run into your own players and the referees as well which is a little touch that just adds to the realism.
The graphics are pretty phenomenal. The character models really do look like their real life counterparts. The shading and shadowing of the lights and sun on the field are just absolutely stunning. The grass looks amazing on the replays but sort of bland in real time. The sounds of the stadium will make you feel like the 12th man is in your living room. With decent commentary and awesome crowd chanting and singing you will feel like every game has a big game like atmosphere.
If you are a soccer fan then this years FIFA is an easy recommendation. From what I played back on the Wii U in 2012, this game is light years ahead in not only online functionality but just the richness in features. I’d have a hard time recommending any other sports title with the exception of Madden or MLB The Show on Sony’s system. The online leagues of 11 vs 11 are just icing on the cake for the full experience. I hope Madden one day implements 11 vs 11 online, as once you play this mode, you can never go back.