Date:10 October 2014
Every year a new version of FIFA comes to us and more often than not, we run out and grab it without hesitation. Have EA done enough this year to warrant such blind affection? I’m not so sure.
When rating a game series like FIFA, the clock must be reset every year. One must avoid referring to previous years’ accolades and in fact should ignore them completely. Therefore the only elements that are reviewed for this sort of series are the differences and one always hopes that these differences translate into an improved overall game.
For the first time ever, this new FIFA feels exactly like the previous version with mostly design changes. One expects that the game features that players have become so fond of will remain and thankfully that part is certainly true. However, it’s odd to discover the same quirky bugs from previous versions have also remained.
The oddness around a referee’s insistence on offside calls even though the ball is in full control of a defender and with no threat from an offside player? Still there. The goal scorer getting trapped in the net when trying to celebrate? Still there. When a player picks up a ball after scoring and hurriedly charges to the kickoff only to find the ball magically vanishes into thin air? Still there. The list goes on.
After all the hype about a new game engine, I have to wonder about the accuracy of that promise. The above issues instead point to the use of the exact same engine, albeit with enhancements.
Now to be fair on the enhancements side of the equation, there are a bunch of them. The interface enhancements are much needed and provide a refreshing view that is reminiscent of a Windows 8 feel. In terms of interface, I especially enjoyed the new method of making substitutions and/or team formation changes.
Also on the design side are the visual changes to gameplay presentation. The new camera angles feel a lot more “natural” from a viewer perspective as this has obviously been derived from television broadcast. It clearly works. The replays seem much better too and the fact that replays may be shown again later when the ball goes dead is a really nice touch.
Although not as slick as on the new generation consoles, the crowds have clearly had an upgrade. Even on the old consoles, the crowds no longer appear to have come from the land of Pac man with their cardboard cutout bodies – they even appear to react differently at different times. Of course for the full effect of the crowd enhancements you will need to find yourself in front of a PS4 or an Xbox One.
Most players in the FIFA universe are addicted to FIFA Ultimate Team. For the uninitiated, Ultimate Team offers you the ability to create your own “fantasy” team based on cards you collect in purchased packs or by trading with other players. One of the biggest frustrations previously was the fact that many of the top players (Messi, Ronaldo, Bale, etc) are unobtainable and only the “millionaires” of Ultimate Team ever get a chance to play them. FIFA 15 has added the ability to loan players and this makes it possible to acquire one of these stellar players even if only for a few games.
When purchasing a new version of FIFA one of the primary things a fan is getting is all of the updated data with regard to clubs, player faces, player transfers, player kits and even stadiums. In FIFA 15 it is quickly obvious that EA’s promise of having more faces than ever before is true. The whole experience has certainly been enhanced visually.
Although the entire game seems to be a dolled up version of FIFA 14, the dressings are plentiful. So unless you’re a hardened football fanatic who cannot bare to play with teams that wear last year’s kit, then perhaps this FIFA could be skipped and when the next one comes along the difference is bound to be remarkable.