The FIFA franchise is a million dollar franchise for EA responsible for about 27% of EA’s net revenue according to Forbes Magazine. You must be wondering just about this point why I’m telling you all this. Soccer is after all a multibillion dollar business in the UK alone and the games generate somewhere between 20-30 million dollar sales a year. After spending a considerable amount of time with this year’s iteration of EA sport’s FIFA 15 on the PlayStation 4. POPCulture Online is extremely pleased to report this year’s findings.
Right off the bat, you’d be greeted with the same sleek presentation very much menu and window driven menus. Kick off lets you jump straight into your favorite matches if you have a short amount time to kill. This review will focus largely on 4 major components. Career, FIFA ultimate team and gameplay and match day live.
Powered by EA’s ignite engine, we saw an excellent engine done from scratch for FIFA 14 last year. This year’s FIFA 15 also adopts the same engine with finer tweaks adjusting some aspects of gameplay. We’ll come to that later. FIFA 15 boasts a beast of 35 licensed leagues, over 600 clubs, 16000+ players and 41 licensed stadiums. Martin Tyler, Alan Smith/Clive Tyldesley and Andy Townsend reprise their roles as commentators and do a solid job once again nailing the commentaries which by the way is not an easy thing to do. Just look at the winning eleven franchise.
Career mode allows you to jump right into the fray managing your club as player and/or manager allowing to manage your favorite teams guiding them to cup/league glory.
Let’s spend some time talking about FIFA’s excellent presentation. A quick glance at the television could very much fool an onlooker with glasses that there’s an on-going match. The presentation of the pre-match lead up to the game would describe in detail the starting lineup, players’ form, managerial decisions as to why a particular player was dropped and transfer/retirement speculations are all wrapped up. FIFA has certainly set high expectations to outdo themselves this year.
The gameplay of FIFA 15 is where the game really shines. While it might fool you into thinking this is the same engine as FIFA 14, a fan who has spent at least 100 hours on FIFA 14 will tell you that this is a different ball game. Running and dribbling has been augmented, the pace of the game has been tweaked for a more challenging gameplay. Long shots, finesse shots and of course most importantly, much welcomed buffing of the goal keepers.
Keepers now react more like their life like counter parts. In FIFA 14 you would typically be able to run up to the same spot, do a finesse shot or chip shot and know exactly when it goes in. FIFA 15 adds dynamism to the game, no 2 goals of mine have yet to be the same. This is my perfect flavor of football. The adrenalin of football comes from the excitement of not knowing what’s going to happen next. The anticipation of scoring the winner in a tie-breaker in the 87th minute is a reward of you pushing for what looks like an elusive goal. The difficulty in the game is catered for all types of players with 5 difficulty settings from beginner to world class each of the levels significantly stepping up the level of gameplay. With that, any player would be able to find a difficulty suited for your gameplay.
New in this year’s FIFA 15 are also licensed referees. Gone are the days of generic type A referees but Mark Clattenburg, Mike Dean and Martin Atkinson. Most decisions that referees make are fair but a few notable physics related issues resulted in penalties. While far and few, most decisions were fair. Crunching tackles, body checking, shirt pulling, trips and late challenges were usually greeted with a card or warning. You know EA was being seriously when they announced that 200 faces were scanned into the game to add into the immersion and the realism of the game. Stadiums painstakingly created coupled with crowd chants. No wonder EA were serious when they asked us to #Feelthegame.
Another big feature of this year’s iteration is FIFA ultimate team. For those who are not too familiar, this is EA’s huge multiplayer mode and attempt to blend a card game/strategy/football simulation into one where the player uses card packs to form their very own dream team. After all, who wouldn’t want Gareth Bale, Eden Hazard, Neymar or even Messi on their own team? FIFA 15 comes in 2 flavours, standard edition and ultimate team edition. The difference is in the number of gold pack cards you’d receive. The standard edition gives you 15 gold packs over 15 weeks while the ultimate team edition bundles in 40 gold packs over 40 weeks.
New this year to ultimate team are loan players which are a welcome sight. Occasionally seeing top class players like Vidal, Ramsey, Sterling or even James Rodriguez join my team for a couple of tougher matches help to make the difference. With ultimate team, you build the perfect squad to maximize team chemistry and take on tournaments, leagues which will win you more coins to in turn either buy more card packs or head to the transfer scene which is where the game mode really shines.
FIFA 15 Ultimate team is a great way to improve your footballing skills as you take on teams of the week where you get to face live transfer as EA calls it shows you how many people are currently selling their cards. You participate in a riveting, nail biting auction where players outbid each other to nail the players of their dreams hopefully at a cut throat discount. I personally spent more time on the transfer scene to maximize the use of my own coins as opposed to buying card packs which usually result in random players who might not fit into your team. FUT is a great mode to start playing to quickly improve your skills as the leagues you work your way through get gradually and incrementally tougher forcing you to adapt your game and brand of football.
For those who like to control everything down to the club badges, you will be pleased to know that everything is customizable in FUT including player kits, club badges, managers and even stadiums.
We are extremely delighted with what we’ve seen this year concerning FIFA 15 as EA takes a leap forward in the right direction. Some may consider this approach to be too safe but after spending quality time with the game, there is no better game on the next generation platform that better captures, encapsulates all manner of football better than FIFA 15. From the improved goal keepers, to amazingly accurate 1 touch football, dynamism and sheer goal varieties. You would enjoy frustration, creativity, seated at the edge of your seat, control, joy all from playing this game. We can’t wait to see what EA has in store for us as they outdo themselves again each and every year.
Ratings: 4.5 out of 5 stars
by Kenneth Choong
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