It’s that time of the year again. Actually it was that time last month, but our review copies only arrived late so we couldn’t bring you the breaking news that FIFA 15 is pretty much FIFA 14 with a new number on the end.
Now that claim has been hurled against FIFA since the the game began; I have always been a defender of the series saying that the majority of people who say it’s the same game aren’t football fans and therefore don’t have the passion and understanding of the small nuances that each iteration brings.
It’s never just a squad update but rather tweaks to the rules, new graphics and an improvement in the base engine that runs the game. I’ve always defended it because I felt it was always true. That is, until this year. This year I am walking away from the game feeling disappointed and a little irritated to be honest.
The game is technically magnificent, the touch controls, tactics and graphics are superb and the ability to see who your team mate is by the way he is moving instead of his name truly immerses me into the game. Dribbling on the edge of the box and I can see Gerrard making space for himself on the right while Lucas ambles to the left makes having knowledge about the game so much more important. Passing to Lucas at this stage is far less likely to result in a successful shot on goal compared to rolling it in front of Gerrard.
The commentary team has also improved again, though I’m still not a fan of them passing off to the third commentator to hear about what’s happening at other matches. However, the flow of the chatter is definitely improved – still a long way from perfect but definitely not bad at all.
Then we head into what the game has on offer and no other football game comes close. The standard career mode is still my bread and butter and you can pick from hundreds of teams across a multitude of leagues to try and conquer the world.
Personally, the constant harassment by the board and players is something I’d like to mute; I’m not here to make my players feel good about themselves and give them chances. I’m here to win and pretend I’m idolised by my adoring fans. Dealing with admin is something I have to do in real life, why would I want to do it in a game?
The game also offers online leagues which I thoroughly enjoy, even though I languish towards the bottom of the online leagues. The system is the same brilliant one it has been for years. You start in the 10th division and you need to win a certain amount of games to get promoted. In higher leagues, if you lose too often you get relegated. There are no set tables so you can always find an opponent.
Then there is the massively popular FUT which is the trading card game of old integrated with the actual ability to play the game and compete against others. It’s massively addictive for some but is not something I have ever really been that into.
Lastly you have the skill games, which you can attempt during loading screens, but which also form a core competitive side of the title as you strive to beat your friends’ scores. All four modes are perfectly polished and work excellently well. The online multiplayer will need a few months before the hardcore fans decide if it is well balanced or not, but for the average gamer you are going to love it.
So that’s all great and if this game came out as a new title now it would be scoring well into the 9’s and there really isn’t anything wrong so why isn’t it getting a 9?
There’s one simple reason, it’s no better than FIFA 14. The ball control feels identical, the graphics are the same and the game hasn’t kept up with the rule changes.
Well, at least that one rule change. In the world cup the magic vanishing spray was introduced to ensure players kept the legal distance from the ball during free kicks. Yes it only arrived into premier league late into the summer break but that is why I’m paying over R700 for a game, I want the developers to be sweating blood to ensure my game mimics reality. It’s now two months since the Premier League started and there is still no referee in the game with spray paint.
If EA Sports isn’t going to keep up with the rule changes and implement them quickly, I see absolutely no reason to buy FIFA annually. In fact last night I had to remove a version of FIFA from my Xbox One to install Sunset Overdrive, and I had to think whether to remove FIFA 14 or FIFA 15.
That, for me, was the kicker.
Last Updated: October 17, 2014