Another year, a new season can mean only one thing. Its FIFA time. EA Sports’ long-standing football simulator returns and yet again is one the biggest releases of the year. This was supposed to be the first real glimpse of next-gen football gaming. Unfortunately all that has happened is a rather large regression in quality. Quite frankly this game is worse than last years’ iteration which really wasn’t meant for the new consoles.
Let’s start with the good – what little there is. FIFA was crying out for an overhaul of the presentation and this has been somewhat addressed. Although the commentary is still lacklustre there is a sense of freshness surrounding the in-game presentation. This is no more prevalent than in EPL games where the style is very akin to that of Sky Sports. The Premier League is where most time should be spent since all 20 stadiums have been included in the game along with many more player faces. However should you wish to play outside of the English game then you will be disappointed as the presentation is not up to par and the same generic stadiums return. Aside from this the game is not noticeably much of an upgrade over last year when it comes to graphics. The frame-rate is passable though are issues at certain points in regards to stuttering.
That was all of the good. Seriously, I’m not even joking. The story is that the gameplay is awful. It has been utterly ruined. It seems as if the developers forgot that the core of a sports game is its gameplay. I will proceed to break down exactly what is wrong with how it plays.
The main issue is that the passing and shooting mechanics are very imprecise – even with the assistance option on. Now the player will struggle to pass ball to their teammates and shooting has become even more difficult with nearly all attempts going straight at the keeper or wide of the mark. Imprecision is the word to use to describe the majority of this game. It feels much unfinished. The on-ball movement is great. It is true 360 degree movement and is actually quite responsive once the idiotic first-touch has stopped being a factor (more on this later). However, off the ball, i.e. when trying to defend, the movement may be mistaken for being that of FIFA 2005 not 15. The controlled players get stuck in animations which means that they are very slow to respond and turning even a tiny bit is incredibly cumbersome. Of course this is not an issue for the CPU. The computer can seemingly react before you even press a button. Now you may say that it’s realistic for that to happen and you would be right except for the fact the CPU appears to have more speed, better reflexes and an insane tackle success rate. So gameplay is unresponsive, slow and imprecise. This is the worst the game has felt for a while.
As mentioned above the ridiculous first-touch mechanic returns. Introduced in FIFA 13 this mechanic has often been lauded for adding a touch of realism and fairness to the game. However, the person who programmed this had obviously never seen a game of football in his life. Players such Ronaldo and Messi who almost never lose control of the ball would fire it several metres in the wrong direction. That is just plain unrealistic yet EA insist on adding it in to the game. There has been no change. If anything it’s even worse as it gets confused with the new physics engine which, again, is also very imprecise. The problem is that you know it’s going to happen but nothing can be done nigh on stopping the player and letting ball run to you but this will result in the loss of possession on the higher difficulties. This mechanic has been the main cause of conceding goals so far throughout my time with the game and it is something completely out of your control. One must simply hope that the players will be able control the ball. Also did I mention that it almost never affects the CPU? Well it doesn’t. Thanks EA.
The other major issue is defending. Yet again this side of the ball has been neglected is favour of making the game look prettier (which they failed at as well). Your computer controlled teammates appear to have not heard of the word positioning. They run off in completely the wrong directions often at the most inappropriate times. The full-backs have become so bad at staying in position that there is now a slider to modify how well they position – though it doesn’t make much difference anyway. Players still get lost under the high-ball and often fall over when attempting to head the ball away. This preference to spending more time on floor than in air is probably down to the physics engine. The last line of said defence is the goalkeeper who still fails to make the most pedestrian of saves while his computer-controlled counterpart pulls off stops that would make creators of Star Wars Battlefront proud (i.e. the fact that the game kept being pushed back and eventually cancelled/stopped).
The most annoying thing about this game is that its American counterpart – Madden – underwent a massive upgrade for the next-gen consoles. FIFA makes more money than Madden but has failed to improve. In fact it has degraded to the level that the country would be at if Nick Clegg were ever to become Prime Minister – i.e. everyone being lied to and having their promises broken because FIFA 15 is essentially a broken promise. It is not what billed as. There is no emotion. It is purely robotic. The only reason it avoids a worse score than this is because it would be harsh to compare to that other mess of game from EA Sports, NBA Live 14.