September 23rd was not a significant day whatsoever in the life of almost every human in the world. However, to a small percentage, this date marked a new beginning. A rejuvenation for gamers everywhere. FIFA fans were treated to the release of this years video game version of the “beautiful game” itself. This game came with a lot of hype, as with every new edition of a major video game franchise. EA released new skill moves, celebrations, rosters, and more fast-paced, lifelike gameplay. So did EA succeed in creating their best FIFA game yet? Fellow ISH writer Max Marcovitch and I have decided to fervently cover the ins and outs of this story live from my living room.
Gameplay- 20 Points
Player Ratings- 20 points
Graphics- 20 points
Game Modes (career, season, tournaments; sorry to all Ultimate Team fans, convince my mom to get me XBOX Live)- 20 points
Commentary & Other In-Game Attractions (Audience and such)- 15 points
Celebrations (because these matter to all FIFA fans who take pride in their goals)- 5 points
Total- 100 Points
Gameplay– Fifa 15 gives the gamer a much more life-like experience during a match. A few notable changes that were immediately noticed were the difficulty some players had with controlling the ball, all player’s ability to defend better with their feet, slower cutback speed, and passes/through-balls with better curve and accuracy. All of these differences are things you could see if you were to watch any professional soccer game (even the MLS). Players had much more difficulty controlling the ball while making longer strides and when receiving a long pass; even Messi had some trouble gathering the ball. Although a pain for the gamer, this change is a very good one by FIFA in that it is more comparable to an actual soccer match. Similarly, all players seemed to have a much better defensive ability.
It is no longer possible to run right through the defense (unless you have got some nice skill moves) because all players seem to be able to stick out a foot and gain possession of the ball. The inability for players to have a quick cutback also makes it impossible for one player to run right through another team. Players lose a little control of the ball when they cutback, causing an opportunity for the defense to gain ground and even steal the ball. Both of these things add yet another very life-like effect to the game. The last big change we noticed is one that I have personally been waiting for: natural curve on long through balls. It is now very possible to put a man through on goal by curving the ball around a defender wether it be with an aerial through ball or a normal one that stays on the turf. This new feature adds a whole new dynamic to attacking. There is a good chance EA added the more curved, natural passes to make up for the difficulty they created with attacking. Overall, EA did a very good job with creating the hardest, most life-like FIFA yet. 19/20
Player Ratings- Among the many reason why any soccer (football?)-loving person would cough up $60 for the latest and greatest is the update in player and team rankings. I can only imagine the hours experts spend sifting through game tape and carefully handpicking numbers to define each and every crevice of a player’s game. And, for the most part, those experts hit the nail on the head with these rankings. Correctly anointing Messi over Ronaldo was crucial for me and any complaints will be nitpicking, but nitpick I shall.
Arjen Robben simply is not the 3rd best player in the world in my view; in fact I would rank Lewandowski and Ribery from his own team ahead of him (Bayern, by the way, is mind-numbingly good this year. We’re talking Bo Jackson in “Tecmo Bowl,” 2012 Miami Heat in “2K,” Brazil in “FIFA ’06” level of good. They own 11(!) of the top 50 in the game.) FIFA will continue to overrate Barca and Real, but Xabi Alonso hasn’t earned an 84 rating in my view, nor has Iniesta warranted his 89 rating. Suarez, on the other hand, should be rated higher than 89 and has a legitimate argument to be listed as the third best player in the game. Some notable omissions from the top 50 players include: Daniel Sturride (apparently finishing second in goals in the EPL to Suarez doesn’t mean much), Romelu Lukaku, Ezequiel Lvezzi, Aaron Ramsey, Paul Pogba, Alexis Sanchez and many, many more. It must be very hard to do what these experts do, but they just about nailed it with these ratings. 19/20
Graphics- The first, and arguably most quantifiable, aspect of the game that the player will notice seems to underwhelm upon first glance. The lack of immediate definition and clarity, especially on full-pitch views, as opposed to games in years past, hinders just a bit of the aura upon first glance.
The graphics are not a disaster by any means, in fact the close up views of players are exceptional, it just seems to lack a major step up that one might expect from a major video game franchise. The shadows are as realistic (and bothersome) as ever and the kits have come out superb. Now, much of the quality of graphics will depend on the quality of the television and gamers have been spoiled greatly by the immense strides made by EA Sports in the past 5-10 years. Nothing too drastic to complain about, but overall the graphics do not stand out for great improvement. 16/20
Game Modes- This year’s FIFA shows off the same non-online game modes as always: Career (manager or player), Be a player/goalkeeper, and play/create a tournament. Career mode shows off an amazing array of options, and allows you to have all the fun an actual coach/player has from the comfort of your couch. As a manager, you get to pick your team and take part in the transfer period while carefully managing your money. One thing that I love about this year’s transfer market is that you can no longer go after any player you want.
Transfer scouts give you realistic money on how to spend your money best. You also have constant access to other teams who may be interested in you. If you choose to create a player, the options are very similar. You get to improve your player over a period of time, and play in as many matches as you want while trying to make it to the National Team. One feature that stands out in this year’s Create a Player mode is that you can now retire whenever you would like and choose to become a manager and continue your career on that path. The tournament mode remains very similar to past FIFA’s. All tournament’s from all the countries you could want are available to play. You can also create a tournament with whatever teams you would like to participate. Lastly is the Be a Player/Goalkeeper mode. This mode allows you to play as a specific player for one game. All players in the game are available. As usual, FIFA nailed it with their Game Modes. 20/20
Commentary & Other In-Game Attractions- One of the most overlooked aspects of any given videogame is its commentary. The FIFA franchise, however, stands head and shoulders above any other game in this category. The insightful, joyous commentary strays from the typical robotic repetition that many franchises have become all-too accustomed to. Just a small, but striking, tidbit came in a franchise game when the announcer sent the audience to another game for a score update by Alan McInally.
When I broke through for a scoring opportunity, the announcer smoothly shrugged off the update to announce the situation. He later apologized to his “good friend” for the interruption and continued with the score. Attention to detail matters, and FIFA is clearly well aware of that. Possibly the most attractive in-game change in FIFA 15 comes from the crowd. The crowds, though still not visually defined as individuals, now sings and chants in unison. Each crowd distinguishes itself from the next, and that, alone, is reason enough to turn the volume up when playing. FIFA hit a homerun with these subtle, but crucial, changes. 15/15
Celebrations- There is a whole manual… and Ronaldo can’t take his shirt off which is a plus. 5/5
Buy the game, you won’t regret it.