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What is FIFA 15?
If you liked the look of FIFA 14, FIFA 15 already looks like it'll be the football game to own for next gen console owners. The latest instalment of the much loved footballing sim brings an added level of realism and a sense of environment not seen in any of its predecessors.
Every year EA does such a good job with the FIFA title that it leaves us thinking there is no room for new features or new ways of bringing the game closer to a real-world kick about. But every year EA surprises us, and this year is as big a surprise and improvement as any.
A living pitch, new physics systems and a mass of additional tackle and ball control options mean that FIFA 15 acts as a refinement more than a reinvention of the FIFA franchise.
It also brings the game more to life. Playing FIFA 15 at E3 2014, it was instantly noticeable how much work EA has put in, not only to the players, but the pitch, stadiums, crowds and even the advertising hoardings. This might sound like a list of insignificant improvements that will have little effect on gameplay, but that couldn’t be further from the truth.
Right, green fingers at the ready, it’s time to talk about the pitch. Now, before you start yawning, trust us, this is a major improvement in FIFA 15 and one which has a notable effect on just how realistic the game is from the very first play.
Unlike previous games, FIFA 15 sees the pitch evolve with play. Not in a pre-set, repetitive fashion either, but in a dynamic manner based on the action of each individual match. The footfalls of all 22 players are mapped throughout the game and cause the pitch to deteriorate in a realistic natural fashion.
So, for instance, in a very one-sided match, the 18-yard box of the defending team deteriorates far quicker than that of the attacking team. It’s not just based on steps, either, but the intensity of the action. Sliding into tackles the pitch gets cut up, a tarnish to the surface which remains and further evolves throughout the 90 minutes. Rain also has an effect on how quickly the pitch becomes scared with marks.
The pitch’s surroundings have been improved too. Advertising hoarding now look like real LED displays and crowds have added emotions and animations all of which take FIFA 15 closer to watching football on the TV than playing it in a game. The goal frame even rattles when hit by the ball – although we were too busy hitting the back of the net to witness this first hand.
Back to the action and new physics have been applied to both player and ball. Having played a couple of matches during our early hands-on time, the improvements were instantly noticeable. Shoulder barges have been added to force attackers off the ball and stutter steps – a personal highlight of our early play – create a more natural, flowing football experience.
Players have also been handed a mass of new animations, introducing improved individuality as opposed to a team of identically playing drones.
Playing as Liverpool we noticed Raheem Sterling stood out from his teammates for his dribbling style. Favouring his right foot, the digital version of the young winger accurately replicated the running style of his real-world counterpart, predominantly using the top of his boot to push the ball along, keeping it close despite being a rapid runner.
New ball physics also introduce spin which is adaptive to every touch, every bounce or deflection. We found this to have a bigger impact on replays and highlight clips more than the actual gameplay, but it is still a welcome addition.
EA has also been keen to stress how the players are now emotional – not weepy and hard to console but reactive to how a full game is panning out rather than just individual actions. Although we struggled to see the benefit of this at first, playing the game it all makes sense. Players now respond in different ways to being in either a winning or losing position as the clock ticks towards the final whistle. Time wasting and urgency come into play, as does a more attacking or defensive mind-set.
FIFA is back, and yet again EA has surprised us by making the game better than ever. FIFA 15 doesn’t reinvent the football game genre, it doesn’t need to, but it does bring more life to it. The new FIFA is filled with emotion, intensity and reality. The more authentic pitches makes a huge difference to the feel of the game and the action is more engaging and addictive than ever.
We’re yet to see what new story modes and gameplay types the publisher has in store but if these elements have been improved as much as the on-the-pitch action, we can’t wait to have a kick about with the full game.
MORE: Best football apps to download for the World Cup
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