Since its launch in late September 2014, millions of people across the globe flocked to retailers to get their hands on FIFA 15, EA Canada’s latest take on football.
Within hours the internet was flooded with reviews and scores of the game for eager fans to read and make up their minds if this years installment is worth a buy. Far too often these days games can be far from a finished product when they ship and usually a day 1 patch can fix most issues. In some cases it can take days or even weeks before the game becomes what developers hoped for. The SGO Team decided it would be a good time to revisit some of these titles and review them well into their life cycle and see if they hold up the test of time and still prove to be worth a buy.
Disclaimer: We have not received any review copies of these games from the developers and our judgement is solely based from a consumer/end user point of view. All games are reviewed on Next Gen consoles and FIFA 15 was reviewed on the Playstation 4.
We start our Mid-Term Review series with FIFA 15, which has been one of the few annual sports titles that has historically come out the gates with no major flaws. This installment proved to be no different when it launched world wide at the end of September. It came with a rich feature set that included all the familiar modes we have come to love from the FIFA series. Let’s take a closer look at some of these modes and enhanced features in this years rendition.
Over the years the FIFA franchise has done a great job at building a foundation and adding game modes fans of the game have been wanting. This years additions, although more subtle than in past years, tie it all together for a football experience that in is the best to date.
The game has a robust career mode which gives you the ability to either play as a created or existing player and build him up or manage a complete team in virtually any relevant league of the world. Career mode comes complete with media and player interactions, a full transfer network, Squad reports even the ability to manage a national team parallel to your club team. I have played through 3 full seasons with my favorite club from the Bundesliga and in no way has this game mode lost its luster. Additionally FIFA 15 returns with “Online Seasons” where you can play with your favorite team in ranked online matches to earn points to move up divisions and climb the global leaderboard. If you are into playing alongside your buddy, there is even an option to play in Online Co-Op seasons 2 v 2.
Pro Clubs lets you create a player, and join your buddies online to go toe to toe in full 11v11 user matches which is a feat in itself. Matchmaking is simple and efficient and no lag was detected while playing this game mode. The ability to create or join friends clubs and upgrade your created player made Pro Clubs an absolute blast. However, the created player from our Career could not be carried over into Pro clubs, making this mode a bit limited. A universal experience similar to NBA 2k15’s MyCareer/The Park would have been a nice touch, but the sheer fact that we were able to play an enjoyable 22 user contest made this a game mode a welcome change of pace.
Matchday Live gives you a chance to catch up on news, recent results, tables and top scorers from your favorite teams real life counterparts and even play in what will be their upcoming match. Although not a core game mode, it is definitely a welcome feature that kept me in the loop of what is going on with my favorite team in real time.
Then there is the beast FIFA Ultimate Team. This trading card based team mode first appeared in the 2006-2007 Uefa Champions League title and was then added to FIFA 09 and has been a huge success ever since. This marks the 6th year of FUT and it has become a game within the game. The new Concept Squad feature is a powerful squad planning tool that allows you to plan future squads using the entire FUT player catalogue. You can replace a specific player in your squad and see what it will do to your chemistry before investing in the player. This year, you are also able to battle your friends Ultimate Team 1 on 1 in FUT’s friendly seasons. Ultimate Team is deeper than ever and if this game mode tickles your fancy, you may enjoy our Introductory guide to FUT.
Tournaments, Skill Games, The Practice Arena and Create a Player are all back giving this game the feel of never being able to run out of stuff to do. Although I do wish that there was a way to play in an online league exclusively with a number of your friends, not sure why recent sports games have gone away from offering online leagues. Other then that small gripe, FIFA 15 can hold its own against any sports title on the market right now when it comes to content.
Graphics have enhanced since FIFA 14 and the game looks and feels crisp. All 20 premier league stadiums have been added and 200+ player models. Corner flags wave, playing surfaces wear down and goalposts shake. The crowds look lively and even the camera shakes after a momentous goal. Premier league games look and feel as if you were watching an EPL broadcast on tv and player faces have improved as well. The instant replay feature can still produce some of the most captivating screenshots of any next gen sports game and is simple enough to navigate.
Gameplay remains solid and EA Canada continues to deliver the right mix between a Sim experience and flat out fun. Game pace is fast and after months of play time, it does seem a bit too easy to score from long distance but in no way did that make my experience less enjoyable.
The entire goalie system has been revamped and includes 50 new save animations. The AI, although not perfect, at times seems much smarter than in earlier FIFA titles. Menu’s implore the popular tile like format and are easy to navigate within. Team management and strategies are accessible and easy to use. Being able to change songs with the touchpad while browsing menus added some welcome convenience.
This year, EA added all new player animations that really bring the game to life more than ever before. The developers focused on the emotions that come with the game of football. Authentic and team specific stadium chants are back this year and 10 player goal celebrations add a nice touch. You will see players slump over in disappointment after a shot sails wide over the goal and goalie celebrations after a nice save. Confetti will fly and a trophy presentation will give you that sense of accomplishment after winning a cup. The commentating does get repetitive after a while but they do a nice job of mentioning relevant news that relate to your league and your team at that moment. Mini games in the load screens are fun and keep track of your progress compared to your friends.
This game survives the test of time as well as any title I have played. The plethora of game modes, challenges and tournaments never leave you bored. FIFA has sort of become a multimedia hub for football enthusiasts and at this stage is more than just a game. After more than 100 hours of time on the virtual pitch, I have still so many things to accomplish and I haven’t even scratched the surface of multiple game modes. If you are a fan of football and a fan of video games, you will not feel cheated by picking up FIFA 15 even 4 months into its life cycle.
Overall FIFA 15 is a must own for any soccer fan, EA Canada did a great job portraying the drama and emotion that comes with the game of football this year. Sure, It has its quirky moments and certainly there are some things to improve upon but overall this may be the very best football sim game we have ever seen. There have been 3 title updates since its U.S. launch on September 23rd, with the last one coming in November of 2014 which addressed a multitude of issues. Unlike some other annual sports titles in recent years, FIFA 15 really didn’t need a whole lot of post release work. Some of the improvements like updated player models, camera angles, tweaks to the A.I. and gameplay adjustments still were noticeable and a welcome addition to an already stellar game. Simply put, if you are a fan of the sport or even just a fan of deep, sim style sports titles, this next generation gem is worth a long and hard look.
FINAL SCORE: 9 out of 10
I hope you guys enjoyed this midterm review and as always please feel free to voice your opinions in the comment section below and get involved in the #SGO FIFA community. Hope to see you guys out there on the pitch soon!