FIFA 15 goes all-out to take sports simulation onto a whole new level of brilliance. The Daisy Cutter feels the game.
The excitement that surrounded the recent launch of FIFA 15 was so palpable it could probably have charged the national grid for a week. Now, a month on, it’s all gone relatively quiet among gamers and frustrated football superstars alike.
Does that mean the latest release from the behemoth franchise has been a disappointment? Of course not. It’s simply because the game is so freaking addictive the many who have succumbed to its complex charms have yet to materialise and see a sunrise.
Pretty soon we will see them wander from their homes, shaking off an almost post-apocalyptic daze, and start spreading the word on the game’s brilliance.
That word thankfully is ‘evolution’ with the techy boffins at EA Sports astute enough to know their cosmic leap from bone to spaceship occurred last year with a welter of advancements that truly amazed.
It would have been folly akin to reinventing the wheel to make significant changes to such a winning formula and so it’s a huge relief to switch on, change West Ham (I’ve no idea why but I ALWAYS play as the Hammers) to my favoured 4-2-3-1 formation and immediately feel a familiarity to the gameplay.
What EA Sports have done is evolve the game even further with a series of tweaks and upgrades one of which becomes apparent almost straight away in the faces of the players which are now more expressive than ever before. It is claimed there are 600 reactions possible some of which contain deadpan subtlety – I have heard of but not yet witnessed a twitch of the nose from an assistant linesman.
As always it is these tiny details that elevate the game into the realms of the real. Blades of grass smithereen through the air upon contact with a ball while an intimidating away trip is accompanied with real fan chants which only makes a hard-fought 1-0 smash-and-grab all the sweeter.
One of the most notable improvements have been to the keepers – it initially weirds you out seeing Joe Hart change his mind mid-charge out of his box and race back to goal. This is one of several examples where the game fizzes with such freewill it makes you suspect you’re in a sci-fi flick set slightly in the future.
Elsewhere the number ones are given more intelligence with better positioning at set-pieces but just in case it became too hard to best them they’ve also been afflicted with a new Achilles heel. Or rather two. It is now possible to slot the ball through their legs.
One of the most impressive additions – and something I slightly struggled with in previous incarnations – is the cleaner, easier to navigate team management menus. As comprehensive as before but with a cleaner set-up I found I can arrange my team as I wish – and each individual to fulfil the roles that I wish – without spending ten minutes before each game chewing my lip. Bravo to whichever person was responsible for that change-up.
The popular additional features are still there with the FIFA Ultimate Team mode now allowing you to loan in superstars before you can afford to purchase them. Rumours they got this idea from United and Falcao are as yet unconfirmed.
Tournament mode makes a welcome return while deeper yet there is the as-yet-unexplored Career option where you can make your mark as a player or manager.
These lie ahead of me and I’ve dutifully cancelled Christmas plans and gently explained to my girlfriend that it’s not working out.
Overall the multitude of features and activities are richer than ever before and the best sports simulation game of all time just got a whole lot better. It is an outstanding achievement and with the controller in your hands you truly do – as their new slogan has it – feel the game.
Now the question must be asked…where the hell do they go from here?