FIFA 15 (PS4) - ReviewJoseph Trotter , posted on 25 October 2014 / 4,445 Views
FIFA is the Coldplay of video games. There. Someone had to say it. Hugely popular, inexplicably so to those who do not like it, both have become increasingly more popular and critically lauded as rivals ponder how exactly they can match such success. One potential answer is blandness; to produce something so inoffensive that it appeals to many but turns off few, except for those who don't like football or Chris Martin.
FIFA 15 is not bland. In-fact, it tries very hard to be the opposite of bland. Everything in FIFA 15 has been inspired by the Sky Sports Football mantra: bold, bright, polished, over-emphasised, outrageous. This is a game for those who revel in the spectacular and share disdain (ideally with a hashtag) for such things as a well-organised defence. Franco Baresi would turn in his grave if he were dead.
SUPER SUNDAY FOOTBALL VIDEO GAME TIME should blare across the screen as the players are led out onto the glistening pitch. As always with EA Sports, the production levels are impeccable; the surprisingly accurate official stadia gleam in the sunshine as the match is played. Top players are not as dead-eyed as they once were, though no amount of pixels can accurately convey the ugliness of Wayne Rooney. No amount of words, either, can sum up the horror of some of the stock character builds for players who do not play on the world stage; at least, no amount of words from Alan Smith and Martin Tyler, who have once again reduced the English language to vague clichés and painful 'spontaneous' discussions about the teams. Change it to French instead; you'll still have no idea what they're talking about, but it'll sound sexier.
Great emphasis has been placed on the implementation of strength physics into the game. Although it doesn't have a particularly noticeable effect, the inclusion becomes apparent when the hilarious physics engine comes into play. Smaller players spin hideously, as if shot by invisible snipers. But these smaller players should not feel down-heartened, as FIFA 15 leans heavily in favour of the attacker. Dribbling is tight and controlled, with quick and skilful players being exceptionally difficult to stop. Midfield battles are hard-fought slogs, a mixture of crunching tackles and well-timed ball-control. Finishing appears more accurate, although it inexplicably seems easier to score 30-yard wonder volleys than one-on-ones - the Sky Sports element is clear here.
Scoring is satisfying, in part because of the improvement in the design of the goal-keepers; they move and dive realistically, no longer the tumbling sticks they once were. When a shot slips through a goal-keeper's legs, it looks like a smart finish as opposed to a glitch. The difference between great and poor keepers is noticeable; Thibaut Courtois imperiously collects every cross, while a League Two stopper is prone to mistakes. It is frustrating when they drop the ball, for it is harsh to be punished for mistakes you have no control over, but this is a relatively minor quibble. Defending has seen barely any evolution compared to the tweaks over the past few editions, but a well-organised defence, rare as it is, is likely to stand strong in such an attack-based environment.
The key to FIFA 15 is its accessibility; tactical options are simple but effective, giving the impression that you are making vital changes with very little effort. Football Manager it is not, nor does it pretend to be. Menus are bright and clear, easy to follow and understand with limited jargon.
Online options are bountiful, as are offline – EA understand the appeal of beating friends in the same room, although they heavily push cash-cows such as FIFA Ultimate Team. Such are the options, the replay value is almost limitless.
FIFA 15 is an excellent addition to the canon, and improves on the weaknesses of FIFA 14 while implementing engine changes as the series moves into a new generation of hardware. Gameplay heavily favours the attacker, leading to spectacular, high-scoring matches. Production values are sky-high, and the game itself undoubtedly great fun. FIFA 15 will never appeal to detesters, but for fans of the series it is another justification as to why FIFA is the best football experience video gaming can offer.
This review is based on a retail copy of FIFA 15 for the PS4
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