Sunday, 28 September 2014

Raucous Reviews: FIFA 15

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Ever since I shunned FIFA 14 immediately after release for it's huge amount of microtransactions and pace-focused gameplay, I've watched it from afar as it slowly crumbled under the weight of coin sellers and wished that more thought was put into the singleplayer modes. Ultimate Team's great and all, but what's a guy to do when he's done with getting obliterated online? 

Thankfully, it seems that EA have focused a little more than usual on lag-free land of single player. While no new modes have been added, EA has been carefully tweaking and adding small mechanics that make experiences that much more interesting and easier. Skill Challenges have been made more interesting and varied, plus new Goalkeeper skill challenges have been added. But that's the overall feeling in FIFA 15: while it's still the pinnacle of the football simulation market, it seems to be shuffling forward rather than leaping.

Let's start with the raw gameplay: once again, the developers have shifted the power from pace to dribbling. Dribbling is now the way to win, and with slide tackles becoming less powerful, matches can turn out to be a frustrating experience when playing against skillful players, both virtual and real. Even goalkeepers can beat defensive lines with ease. It seems like EA just can't find that balance, and are going back and forth until they strike that golden ratio.

Speaking of balance, your players will be losing a lot of it. Hundreds of new animations mean all players and keepers react to situations in different ways. It's amazing to see how much detail EA have put into the match day experience: players will complain, fight and express emotion when celebrating. Sometimes it's amazing; capturing the feeling of a passionate match and investing you into the game. Other times it just detracts from the experience: players will complain about tackles when the ball is in their possession, and have it stolen from them. Once again, there's a balance needed.

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One place where they have struck it right, though, is in Career mode. It's currently my favorite mode, thanks to its deep, yet organized and neat style. The Global Scouting Network returns, and it's as useful as ever: all you need to do is put in the criteria and send the scout out to a country, and you'll find your much needed tall center back in no time. Contract signing, youth club-managing and squad management is just so easy and intuitive this time round, but the best addition is Team Sheets. This mechanic allows you to create different team lineups and switch between them before matches easily. It just means less time fiddling around, and more time playing the beautiful game.

Next up, Ultimate Team. The one mode I have dreaded ever since its introduction. Sure, microtransactions are optional, but the fact that you start in such a weak position almost gives you no option: spend countless weeks building up a gold team, or buy your way through the drought. Luckily, the new Loan system eases some of that pressure to use REAL MONEY (tsk tsk) by drafting higher rated players into your squad for a certain amount of games, making your team better just so you can win those extra matches. Still,  Ultimate Team is still pretty unbalanced, this time said overpowered dribbling has taken hold of the mode. If you want to have fun and spend no money, it's not the best mode.

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All other modes are virtually unchanged, as most of the work has gone into the presentation and emotion of the game. The crowd is finally rendered in 3D, and they actually look fine from the distant camera angle. Every Premier League stadium has been lovingly rendered and constructed. The camera shakes and the crowd screams and shouts for fouls and goals. It's a shame that this presentation doesn't reflect on the gameplay.

FIFA 15 has definitely evolved from the latest iteration. However, that evolution is mainly cosmetic or for the worse, and it's a shame to see that EA still haven't found a gameplay balance yet. Still, the new Loan system, Career Mode and the overwhelming presentation make FIFA 15 so much better. FIFA 15 is in no way a bad game, it just seems like EA just don't know what to add anymore.

Presentation is Perfect
                                                                                             Unbalanced Gameplay
Deep Career Mode
                                                                                             Frustrating Ultimate Team
Beautiful Graphics

Thanks to Tristan Rosenfeldt from EA for passing us a PS4 review copy!

1 comment:

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