Nearly Hitting the right Pitch
Once a year after school, Jesuit students flock to various stores to pick up the sports game that keeps on giving. Having received the game early, I’m proud to provide a rather premature review for EA’s FIFA 15. Running on the improved Ignite game engine, the game looks better than ever. The game engine which was used in the previous FIFA game has been updated, providing a better lighting effect. The shadows cast by the world-renowned stadiums now react to everything taking place on the pitch.
Unlike last year’s game, FIFA 15‘s artificial intelligence has more human characteristics. Players that are normally prone to injury or quick to anger in real life will have these qualities reflected in their in-game avatars, adding another depth of realism to the franchise. In addition to the mental side of the players, their physical appearances have been improved. The postures and facial characteristics of your favorite soccer players have been 3D-scanned by EA Canada, the developers of the game. The detail and time that went into making these small adjustments are simply jaw-dropping when it comes to the overall visuals of the game.
Now that the visuals of the game are out of the way, it’s time to talk about the real reason why people buy FIFA: gameplay. Thanks to the new improvements on the game’s engine, the past problems regarding dribbling and shooting are no longer an issue, well, at least after playing it for a couple of hours before writing this review. Passing is now more fluid and doesn’t feel as janky as it was in the past installments. The goalies are also more aware of the location of the ball. In past games the reactions of the AI goalies were surprisingly slow; now they anticipate who the ball will be passed to by the amount of possession each of your strikers has had. For example, if you are constantly handling the ball with Messi, the goalie will adapt and focus more on Messi, and in some cases will sic another defender to guard your star player. Anyone who has played a FIFA game before won’t have any trouble adapting to this. This aspect of the gameplay contrasts with the fact that the key core elements of the game remain untouched, which actually is kind of disappointing.
Players aside, the actual environments of the stadiums are quite unique. EA took the time to capture the various unique sounds of famous stadiums, which I found very surprising. For example, you can hear the fans chant the “Yid Army” at the Tottenham Hotspurs’ stadium located in London, England, which was a nice treat for my ears (don’t judge me, the Hotspurs are my favorite club). The pitch for each individual stadium was also observed in various conditions, whether they were in the rain, snow, or sleet. This feature was already in previous games, but with the new physics engine, it finally affects your players, so be careful with your star players when you are playing in ultimate team or career mode—you don’t want to have them slip and get injured, which has unfortunately happened to me twice already. In summary, be careful when playing ultimate team, all of the updates to the game engine can, and more than likely will, harm your players.
The verdict for this year’s FIFA is purely based on personal preference. The majority of the changes I discussed are not even implemented in the 360 and PS3 version of the game. The game itself actually suffers from screen tearing and low frame rates, but this will more than likely get patched up sooner or later. The next-gen version (PS4, XBone, and PC) on the other hand looks and plays without any problems so far. I have yet to play against another real person, though, since the servers are not yet up for multiplayer, so the status and functionality of those are still up in the air.
FIFA 15 provides some small changes regarding balance in the AI and the game engine. It, however, lacks in quality on the last gen, which is a downside if you don’t own a next gen console. I was also hoping for more changes in gameplay and the overall realism of the game. Yet when it comes to playing this game with friends on the couch, it provides the player with all of the fun one can expect from a FIFA title.
Verdict 8/10 on Next-Gen & 7/10 on the last-gen