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FIFA 15 Review

FIFA 15 Review

FIFA is a bit like Sky Sports. It revels in drama and spectacle, frames everything with hyperbole and slick presentation. It is a series that feels as if it’s built to fulfil the fantasy of the epic Super Sunday clash, to deliver on the promise of the thrilling attacking contest that’s not always matched in the real world.


That means that, as has always been the case with the series, FIFA 15 has a certain character when it comes to the way it plays. That is not necessarily a good or bad thing, but simply means that it tends to lean towards a certain style of play, that it has a framework that seems to be constructed with the goal of creating end-to-end contests in mind. It is a game that tends to favour quick, sweeping counter-attacks rather than a more considered approach. That’s not to say that it’s not possible to go against the grain and try and play in a different style, nor that you’ll never play a match that ends in a goalless draw. Rather, it is to say that it feels more natural to treat the midfield as a conduit to transition from defence to attack as quickly as possible, rather than as a unit though which a game is controlled.


Consequently, while FIFA 15 is a game that brilliantly captures the excitement of high-paced, high-intensity football, it can come up a little short in representing other aspects of the beautiful game. A match that’s controlled using the intelligent, possession-based approach of a continental style; a scrappy, hard-fought, physical game that’s won after desperately clinging to an early goal scored in a messy goalmouth scramble – these are the kinds of things that are represented far less frequently in FIFA than they would be in your average week in football. While that lack of variety is regrettable, is it a big problem? No, because FIFA is still a lot of fun to play.


That FIFA 15 is a very enjoyable football game will not come as a shock, given the strength of the series over the last few years, but it’s worth noting that there are tweaks that improve the experience. While fancy flicks and tricks are of course part of your arsenal, it’s satisfying to find you can dribble successfully by paying careful attention to the positioning of your opponents and making intelligent use of changes of pace. The transition between sprinting and running feels more natural, too, and physical tussles are pleasingly tactile. When it comes to improvements, EA has spent a good deal of time talking about changes they’ve made to goalkeepers in FIFA 15. We’ve still seen some buffoonish behaviour from the men between the sticks (and indeed, outfield players) but EA’s claims aren’t all bluster – in particular, we’ve noticed a greater urgency from goalkeepers that allows them to get up for shots that result from rebounds. We also have to say that FIFA 15’s ball physics are incredibly impressive, compensating for some of the lack of variety we mentioned earlier when it comes to the structure of the game by creating unique moments that arise from the ball’s natural movement.


Indeed, FIFA 15’s level of realism will please fans of football immensely, with animations mimicking the actions you’ll see players perform on a Saturday afternoon. That extends to the presentation, too – everything from the Premier League branded line-ups ahead of a game, to the authentic stadiums, to references made by the commentary team. All that stuff might seem silly to care about to someone who doesn’t watch football (to a degree, it is) but to us fans, there’s something undeniably pleasing about the way that FIFA 15 replicates the match day experience.


We can’t forgo mentioning what an excellent package FIFA 15 is when it comes to ways to play – from career mode, to co-op seasons, to Ultimate Team. That’s a large part of the appeal of FIFA – the fact that there are so many different ways to enjoy the game of football at its core, all of which are compelling in their own way. We’ll have to wait and see if FIFA 15 is the best football game released this year, but it sure as hell sets a high bar.



Version tested: PS4


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