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FIFA 15: Hands-on review Gamescom 2014 version
FIFA 15 release date: 26th September Platforms available on: Xbox One (previewed), PS4, PC, PS3, and Xbox 360
The arrival of the Xbox One and the PS4 has come at the right time for EA Sports. FIFA has been ahead of its rival Pro Evolution Soccer for years now.
As good as FIFA 14 still is, another year learning about the next gen consoles has clearly helped the development team edge a little closer to football realism.
EA Sports has used the next-gen processing power to make players and environments more luscious. It's also made it possible to tap deeper into the emotional part of the game. Those individual and club rivalries that makes the beautiful game sometime play out like a soap opera.
This is an idea that's been in the works since EA Sports tried to get all emotional in FIFA 07. Now nine games later, FIFA 15 is the game to put it back on the agenda. It's about players reacting to teammates and opponents in the heat of the battle. If Ronaldo is getting persistently fouled in the game, he'll show his frustration.
It's not something that really comes across playing Kick-Off mode though. Aside from players looking disgruntled at the award of a soft penalty. Emotional intelligence will form a larger part of Career mode. It's not something I’ve had the opportunity to see in action, but it could improve an already feature-rich section of the game.
See also: Xbox One vs PS4
As for visuals, there's few places you can fault it. FIFA 14 on the PS4 and Xbox One is one of the best looking games on next gen consoles and FIFA 15 ramps up the beauty further.
Player likeness is exceptional. You can spot the towering Gerard Pique stepping out of the defence from a mile. Neymar is the quick-footed forward that lures defenders into challenges just as he does in real life.
It's the player mannerisms that shine through above anything else though. And it's not just individuals. Players react in more lifelike ways as a team. Like putting their hands behind their back to avoid handling the ball in the box. It these smaller details that stand out from the last FIFA instalment.
Where issues in match presentation still persist though is up in the stands. Crowds are livelier, going up a notch when you are on the verge of a big win but they still look static.
Most people playing FIFA 15 most likely won't care about this part of the game. But not giving it the same love and attention as the players or the pitches shows on the next-gen consoles.
See also: PES 2015 preview
Pitches are another big piece of the football puzzle EA is trying to solve. The turf is more natural and not just when you are zooming into a goal in an instant replay. Pitch degradation means you can kick out clumps out turf when you make a sliding tackle. It looks like this is just for show and doesn't appear to affect playing conditions in any great way.
Playing FIFA 15 doesn’t feel dramatically different from FIFA 14 on the Xbox One or PS4. Slow, methodical play still reaps the greatest rewards. You can’t just run through teams like 10 Maradonas.
EA’s Impact Engine works much harder on the physicality element of the gameplay and it’s more evident in FIFA 15. Players will fight and tug at shirts for the ball in a one-on-one chase for the ball or trying to shield the ball to time waste at the end of the game.
See also: DriveClub preview
Work on the ball physics impresses too, especially when players attempt to pass on their weaker foot. Team AI has clearly improved as well. Computer-controlled teams hound and press you high up the pitch when they are trailing in the match. Prepare to be schooled with Arsenal-style ball retention as well.
It’s not all perfect though. Shooting seems more erratic and difficult to control than in FIFA 14. Own goals look like bad glitches rather than unfortunate moments in the game.
FIFA 15 is shaping up to be the football game of choice once again. I like what I have played but wasn't blown away by the changes. But, like previous FIFA games, it can take time to appreciate the upgrades. FIFA 14 on next gen consoles got most things right. While it didn't get us feeling all emotional at first sight, we are willing to give FIFA 15 the benefit of the doubt. Hopefully that will all change when the finished game arrives in a few weeks time.
Read more: Best games 2014
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