Review: FIFA 15 (Xbox One & PS4)

This years FIFA 15 has finally arrived, but is it really worth the price tag attached? Does this years update bring any new and meaningful gameplay to the table, or are we being fed the scraps? Dig in to The Games Cabin’s review of FIFA 15 to see what we think.

I’ve been playing FIFA since around 1998, so I think I’m more than qualified to pass judgement on the latest iteration from EA Canada, having played each seasons release for over a decade you’d think I’d get bored with it, but as any veteran FIFA player will tell you – you don’t get bored with FIFA, you just get better.

The same holds true for FIFA 15. It’s certainly an improvement over last years release, though the differences may not be so obvious at first, but they’re definitely there.

Visually, you’re looking at more or less the same game as FIFA 14 which isn’t a terrible thing as FIFA 14 looked great on the next-gen consoles, though a touch up here and there wouldn’t have gone amiss, with some players still looking like they were moulded from plasticine, though we have to admit there’s not a great deal that can be done about Wayne Rooney…

Whilst the visuals haven’t had a drastic upgrade, the player animations have certainly taken a turn for the better with Goalkeepers acting and moving in a much more realistic fashion. Keepers of different levels of skill have different aerial abilities, with the likes of Petr Cech being able to glide through the air with the grace of a Russian ballerina to safely parry away a missile shot, whereas AFC Wimbledon’s aging player-coach will struggle to keep the top corners safe. It’s been a long-time complaint of mine that keepers seem to be the same no matter what their skill level is, but FIFA 15 has finally had me satisfied.

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Keepers will also no longer mindlessly rush out, the intelligence factor has been ramped up a level to give keepers options. You’ll see a keeper come rushing off his line to close the angle, only to realise he’s left himself open to be lobbed, quickly backtracking. It’s smart and keeps things fresh, instead of being able to draw the keeper out and score a cheap shot every time.

Though that’s not to say cheap shots don’t happen, because they do. For instance I thought I’d be cheeky and try to test the keeper about five paces from the centre circle and to my surprise it ended up flying past the keeper who just stood there motionless, his digital soul broken. It’s not a game breaker and it’s a very rare occurrence, but it’s just one more thing that takes you from the moment, even if it does make you feel like a legend.

FIFA games are known for being accessible, easy to pick up and play, easy to score, though not without a challenge. FIFA 15 won’t allow you to just high-tail it up the wings, knock in an early cross and smack it behind the keeper. Half the challenge is getting the ball up the field, the passing game is encouraged whilst lengthy solo-runs are punished brutally by the opposing A.I, which at times seems far to smart for my liking. You can just set the difficulty lower and breeze past the likes of Man Utd (everybody is these days,) Real Madrid and Chelsea, but where’s the fun in that?

It’s not just the keepers who’ve had their brains tinkered and toyed with, it’s the entire field of play that’s changed. Players are more intelligent on the ball, holding up if there’s too much opposition in the way to make a good run, or playing a cheeky back-pass then flying up the wing to receive the following through ball. Off the ball they seem to be a bit more aware of whats going on too, with defenders in particular seeing the greatest improvement amongst the outfield players. They’ll push forward when there’s an attacking play, falling back when things go pear shaped up front. This does depend on your chosen tactics, but they’re easy enough to manage that you’ll not get lost within the menus. In fact the tactics are more in-depth yet easier to customise. Perhaps this will encourage more tactics being used online?

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Tactics play a bigger role in FIFA 15 than the previous games, though not on your part. Opposing teams will adapt to the situation, pushing harder in the second half if they’re a goal down, giving your defenders and man between the sticks more to worry about. Even the lower teams will adapt, if you find yourself a goal behind don’t be surprised to find the lower league opposition park the bus and play it safe, hoping to hold onto the lead. It’s something we see every week on Match of The Day, so the added realism is appreciated, even if it does get super frustrating at times. Seriously, get a wrist strap for your controllers if you’re a bit on the ragey side.

Whether you see yourself as the genius tactician or just the regular playmaker, the Career Mode will keep you busy for months, or at least until FIFA 16 drops. The menus have been better optimised resulting in a much more intuitive experience, rather than frustrating. Changes your teams line up is a breeze thanks to the reworked icons, it’s just so much more user-friendly. The Career Mode allows you to instigate player transfers, sell on your excess players and renew contracts and such. There’s not much that has been done to the Career Mode, but it’s simple to see why. FIFA 14’s Career Mode was rock solid, so why fix what isn’t broken?

The order of the day for FIFA 15 is the online mode. FIFA Ultimate Team is what seems to keep people interested, the grind to build your perfect squad to take on the world is satisfying, if a little arduous and time-consuming, though there is always the option to spend real world cash to progress quicker, something I’m not particularly in agreement with, but is useful if you just haven’t got the time to spend on the grind.

At the end of the day, it’s all up to you. If you’re a FIFA nut then you’re probably going to be getting this day one without caring what the reviews are, which is fine. Don’t let this review, nor others for that matter be the deciding factor behind your purchase. Download the demo to try out the gameplay or head over to a mates house to have a go of the Career and Online modes if you’re still unsure.

FIFA 15 is available on the PS4, Xbox One, PC, Xbox 360, PS3, Nintendo 3DS, PS Vita and Nintendo Wii.

Available from Amazon

Disclaimer: EA did not provide a review copy of this game, nor did we receive any financial incentives in return for a high score. We even offered them a perfect 10 for £20 but they declined, so this is an impartial review which has been formed from the opinions of the reviewer.

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