FIFA 15 (Xbox One) Review – No Stripped Down NHL 15 Experience Here


So what do you do to keep things fresh with a franchise that consistently receives high praise from critics and has sold over a 100 million copies? For starters, you don’t mess around with that winning formula and the changes you do make don’t necessarily revamp the core experience. That’s the case yet again with this year’s installment of EA Sports best selling FIFA franchise. There are some improvements with the games presentation, the visuals have received a fresh splashes of paint, the player controls have been tweaked, the ball physics have been modified and there have been some gameplay adjustments. Yet when the referee takes that one long blow on the whistle to signal the kick-off, FIFA 15 shapes into a brilliant but all too familiar soccer game.

Despite the familiarity, hardcore fans of the franchise should like what they see. For starters, it’s a visually stunning game. The players look better than ever as the more prominent players look even closer to their real-life physical form. This is primarily due to a physically based new lighting system which changes the way players look and the way they move on the screen. It is impressive to say the least.

As real as the players now look and move, the playing surface has also received some enhancements. The pitch in FIFA 15 wears as the game progresses. Slide tackles and boot marks can be seen on the grass. I’m amazed it has taken this long for the FIFA franchise to implement weathered playing surfaces but regardless it’s a nice little addition. Even during some of those rainy games you will notice mud and debris on the pitch. Other new graphical additions like corner flag physics, goal frames that shake and animated LED ad boards are just a few of those little things the development team at EA Canada have implemented to make the FIFA game more true to life.

While FIFA 15 is unquestionably a visually stunning game where you will find yourself watching every little replay or slo-mo cut scene, the menus on the other hand aren’t as colouful as they could be. I found them to be a little on the dark and drab side. Granted the menus are easy to navigate and the broadcast quality overlay graphics as you jump into a game are on certainly par with a TV broadcast but I just found the overall look to be a little underwhelming.

In all honestly who really gives a rat’s ass about the menus if the gameplay stinks, right? Fortunately the gameplay is as tight as ever and fans of the franchise should like the changes that have been implemented. Before I get into some of the gameplay aspects I enjoyed and others not as much, I should point out that by in large all the features and modes you have come to love from the FIFA 14 experience return in FIFA 15. So for those of you wondering if FIFA 15 suffered the same stripped down fate as NHL 15 you can breathe a sigh of relief as that is not the case at all. So Ultimate Team and Career Mode fans alike can rejoice and expects a slew of new features for each mode.

When it comes to the gameplay, there are some things that jumped out right away when I first touched the ball. For starters the speed of the game seems to have increased and much of that has to do with the improved ball physics. Every dribble, pass, shot, and deflection is unpredictable and moves corresponding to the spin of the ball. You feel like you have more control of the ball and that slightly sluggish feeling I had when playing FIFA 14 is gone.

Headers and crosses also seem toned down and harder to execute. Last year I seemed to be able to score with much more consistency using headers. This is not the case at all in FIFA 15. This year you need to be more precise with your passing in order to execute some of those gorgeous headers. Likewise, I found the power kicks, well less powerful if that makes any sense. Those kicks just seem to have a little less zip than they did last year.

Otherwise passing and shooting largely feel unchanged. This isn’t a bad thing as the shooting and passing mechanic remain smooth. When dribbling the ball I always felt like I was under control. Defenders were able to take away the ball with ease but only if I wasn’t careful with my movements. I never felt like any of the takeaways were cheap or due to some kind of a glitch. So to that end I definitely felt like I had more control and more mobility with FIFA 15.

One of the highly touted new additions in FIFA 15 is the “emotional intelligence” feature. What this means is for the first time ever, you can now witness the emotions of all 22 players on the pitch. Players now recognize certain situations in the game that that trigger an emotional response and subsequent reaction. For instance players will push each other after a play or a player will confront another player after a foul. In all honesty I never noticed much of a change in this regard. Aside from the odd shoving match the “emotional intelligence” feature never really impacted the gameplay for me. EA tells us there are over 600 potential emotional reactions that could play out over the course of a game. So to that end, I guess I barely scraped the surface.

One of the most requested gameplay improvements from FIFA fans was Goalkeepers. Now they look and move like their real world counterparts. I am not sure if the Goalkeepers are necessarily any better this year but I noticed a few more save animations and it wasn’t as easy scoring against them in one-on-one situations.

As far as the audio is concerned, FIFA 15 delivers. The new cheers, crowd chants, and crowd reactions steal the show in FIFA 15. They all sound so authentic and like I am listening to an actual broadcasted game. Sound effects like the ball banging off the goal frame or a powerful strike sound bang-on. It is truly a great sounding game.

FIFA 14 was an impressive launch game last fall for next generation consoles. With a little more time under their belt the development team have managed to up-the-ante with FIFA 15. While the changes may not be as robust as we have seen in previous installments in the franchise, there is no question FIFA 15 has firmly cemented itself as the best soccer game on the planet.


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