Developed by EA Canada, FIFA 15 promises to up the ante yet again, in an attempt to deliver a soccer simulation unlike anything else out there. And for the most part, the franchise has been able to do just that.Where other EA Sports franchises have begun to teeter, FIFA has remained a strong, reliable powerhouse.
The defense and team tactics have been refined and when playing against the computer artificial intelligence (AI), you’ll see more fouls and yellow cards (previously, the computer opposition rarely seemed to get yellow card for a slide tackle, and fouls were few and far between). It certainly makes for a much more realistic match.
Goalkeeper AI has also been completely revamped so they play more like real keepers, complete with new animations. We noticed keepers not handling the ball as well they did in previous games, particularly when encountering hard, low shots. There’s now more chances for rebounds here, but there’s still plenty of acrobatic saves to gawk over.
Not surprisingly, this year there is less repetitive game commentary as well more realistic stadium sounds, with crowd-specific chants and crowd reactions to goals and misses now fully integrated into the game (alas, saucier, profanity-laced chants have not yet made it into the game).
And yes, the field does look more realistic, showing wear and tear as the game goes along, with every stadium from the Barclays Premier League rendered beautifully.
There are plenty of other little improvements, including some new features in the highly popular FIFA Ultimate Team mode (in a nutshell, that mode allows you to build your own custom team and play matches to earn coins to upgrade your team), updates to the career mode, online play, and improved set-piece control.
Playing defense in FIFA had always been a sticking point for us in years past, and this season there isn’t much we’ve noticed aimed to improve that experience. It’s not that defensive maneuvering isn’t there, but that it’s not as effective as we wish it were. Too often it feels easier to dribble through a player than it is to challenge one.
While it’s still very much a simulation game at its core, we found a few instances where the gameplay began to drift into hyperbole. Perhaps it’s an issue of an inappropriate difficulty setting, but we played a number of games that ended with a total of 10 goals scored. 2014 World Cup aside, that’s not something you see too often.
All said, FIFA 15 feels like a much more polished product, from top to bottom. To appreciate all of its upgrades is a slow burn, which continues to surprise us the more we play it. There a smattering of ah-ha moments where you say to yourself, “Oh, that was new” or “That’s more realistic.” Ultimately, it allows us to confidently declare that FIFA 15 is a better game than 14.
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