Just to preface this review, as of writing, the online portion of the game is not to a playable standard in which I can realistically account towards the overall rating and thus, this will largely be a first impression of the offline aspects of the full title.
One Yard Closer
By Adam Sturrock
Platforms: Xbox 360, Xbox One, Ps3, PS4, PC and Mobile devices.
Every year heralds a new season: of nail biting finales, of swearing online abuse by taunting teens, of league titles and screamers, primed for the top corner of the net. FIFA is here, once again.
With the last installment, FIFA 14, being the first of many to be shifted into the next-gen era, it was widely thought that this was going to be the beginning of the pinnicle of sports simulation. While FIFA has come back in a familiar package that fans know and love, the little trimmings that have been added have inched the game even closer to the real thing but not pushed it by a mile in front of the competition.
The changes are largely technical this time around. With player emotions included in the gameplay, they moan and hassle at one another when a pass goes askew, they roar with delight when that last minute winner nestles in the net. But unless you were a FIFA veteran or incredibly thorough, you wouldn’t notice it. Arguably one of the biggest gameplay changes, however, will be noticed with regards to the players between the sticks; goalkeepers. What were formerly lumbering giants that flap at crosses, have now become agile panthers; leaping at incredible angles to tip shots around the post – to this writer’s frustration. The difficulty in scoring has definitely been ramped up considerably with shots destined away from the keeper and into the upper echelons of the net, somehow – unhumanly – caught one handed, facing away from goal, with one eye shut (not really but they are really hard to beat!). But to my relief they are inconsistent, often watching a close range shot bobble past them with dumbstruck awe. Not so perfect then.
For the most part, the changes that have been heralded as almost “game-changing” are in fact, really just a layer of makeup over the FIFA 14 skeleton. 15′ was the game everyone wanted 14′ to be; what they ultimately envisioned, but in the end, a year on, it doesn’t look like a massive leap but more of a slight nudge.
The football pitch has now become a transforming aspect of the game, every skid, every dent, and every footprint slowly wears down the turf to the delight of the newly updated crowd mechanics. While some may not have noticed, the lighting has been revamped, bathing our favorite players in a pixilated sun. Shirts cling and pull away from players more realistically and when they go to ground, every muddy molecule is soaked into the kit.
If you could compare FIFA to a sports channel, you could say that it is the Sky Sports of football simulations. While they are both entertaining, they seem too pleased about their new toys when they show them off. For example, FIFA has always had the appeal of being able to pick up a controller and knock off two or three games in quick succession. This time around, however, this immediacy has been somewhat stunted by its shiny-new presentation format; rather than being able to slip back into the action after conceding a free kick, you have to watch the AI pick up the ball, place it on the ground and tee himself off before actually doing anything. In this respect, EA have kind of shot themselves in the foot. While playing a friend, so many times have I had to watch extended animations of unneeded actions that it actually became unbearable.
While aiming to look like the real thing is the overall goal, actually trying to pretend to be it has crossed the threshold of patience in some instances.
Is this the FIFA we expected? It depends to whom you ask that question. But it is undeniable that fans will arrive in their droves to relive another year of their favorite franchise.
What did you guys think? Do you think this is an improvement to the franchise or a stall? Let me know in the comment section below.