Alien : Isolation, Ashley Westwood, Diego Costa, EA Sports, Everton, Fabian Delph, Far Cry 4, Fifa 14, Fifa 15, Football Manager, Game Review, Goals, Lee Cattermole, Leicester, NHL 15, Ori and the Blind Forest, Plants vs Zombies : Garden Warfare, Playstation 3, Playstation 4, Pro Evolution Soccer, Scott Arfield, Sunset Overdrive, Ultimate Team, Wayne Routledge, Xbox 360, Xbox One, Yaya Toure
“Fifa 15” may be the best football game out there at the moment, and for once EA has actually tried to improve their game and change things for the better, but sadly this game is still inherently flawed. “Fifa 15” is far from perfect and it can also be extremely frustrating, which means that in the few days that I’ve had the game I haven’t actually enjoyed it. I believe that the franchise as a whole will benefit from the changes made in this game, and it will act as a solid platform for future releases, but “Fifa 15” is a strangely underwhelming experience.
The re-introduction of tournament mode to the Xbox One version of this game is very welcome (although it never should’ve been dispatched with in the first place). The emotion that this mode is able to generate is quite scary; whether it be when my opponent lost Diego Costa to a severe long-term injury, or my own 3-2 loss away at Leicester with Everton, this game can really get under your skin, which is testament to how well it brings passion to the table. The marketing campaign for this game was all about the fact that the developers had focused on generating a sense of emotion not felt in previous instalments, so that players would ‘feel the game’ and have a more immersive experience, and I do feel as though that has been achieved for the most part.
However, the maddening gameplay has hampered my experience of playing “Fifa 15”, and as I play the game I am slowly led into a land of red mist and hatred for all humanity, so much so that I don’t actually care about what song is being sung at the Etihad or whether Yaya Toure just pushed Scott Arfield! The way in which “Fifa 15” is really able to build emotion isn’t through the elements that EA have added to the game but in how poor the gameplay is at certain points when you are trying your very best to learn and become better than your friends.
As far as I’m concerned you aren’t genuinely in control whilst playing this game because the mechanics aren’t repeatable or predictable. One free-kick will hit the wall from 25 yards out whereas the next will fly over the bar, yet you’ve inexplicably taken that free-kick from exactly the same position and applied the same input! You can’t truly enjoy “Fifa 15” because you can’t consistently manipulate its mechanics to the standards that you’d expect. Every time that you concede a goal you’ll feel somehow cheated because either the AI has gone to sleep or your intentions have been misrepresented by the player you’re controlling, and when you miss a chance you’ll always detach yourself from the mistake and ask why the striker didn’t bury it. The latter happens a lot on football games because people are inherently complacent and sports games are competitive beasts, but whatever underlying issues you have when it comes to mistakes you make on games will be accentuated greatly by this awfully clunky attempt at a football simulator.
There are a lot of unwanted glitches in “Fifa 15” and although they can be funny to begin with they become very tiresome once they’ve happened ten or twenty times. The way in which my player will do a back-flip as a celebration, and in the process travel through another player, is no longer entertaining… it’s just stupid! “Fifa” prides itself on realism; this year the developers at EA have added more player likenesses, real referees, and every Premier League stadium… so why can’t they make a game that works? How am I supposed to ‘feel the game’ if the players are able to float through one another when the ball is out of play?
This isn’t the only glitch in “Fifa 15”, as there are moments in which a referee will get stuck on an invisible wall and waste ten minutes of a match simply because the developers are more interested in quippy rhetoric than they are in a functioning, well-rounded gaming experience. In a match I played against my brother (Everton vs. Leicester) I was a goal behind when the referee proceeded to run around the opposition player trying to book him, wasting ten minutes of the match and meaning that my free-kick would be the last kick of the game. I was genuinely infuriated even though all that was happening was that I was losing on a badly designed game which frankly isn’t worth getting upset over. Problems like this in a AAA game are completely unforgiveable and to find this many in a game in the first week of its release verges on ridiculous. Who gets paid to test this trash anyway? I think they should be retrospectively docked their pay.
Unfortunately, at this point people are used to mistakes in the “Fifa” franchise and they ignore them because they’re football fans who want a specific type of gaming experience in their lives. They want a game which is presented in such a way that they can feel as though they’re taking part in a Premier League/La Liga/Bundesliga match and that’s what “Fifa” gives them because EA has a monopoly on the league licensing. They’re manipulated by a developer that doesn’t care at all about the mechanics in the game and is more interested in how their marketing will appeal to a demographic that they already have a stranglehold on; closing their eyes and failing to see the issues with the product that they so desperately crave.
Additions to the game such as grass cutting up under foot, mud on player’s shirts, and more stadiums are fine, but they’re far from essential. I enjoy seeing the pitch wear as a match progresses but I rarely have time to notice it when it’s me holding the controller because I’m trying to focus on winning the match! I’d much prefer the time that was spent on creating these features to have been spent on making the gameplay more rewarding, and it consistently annoys me that EA focus on superficial tweaks rather than refining their mechanics.
The cut scenes which have been introduced into the game to highlight the player’s reactions are boring and overused, so much so that I’m already tired of them after just a few days, and I fail to see how they significantly alter the experience of playing the game. These new elements could be seen as baby steps towards an impressive football game further down the line, but I truly believe that “Fifa 15” is miles away from being worth the same amount of money as other games in the industry.
“Fifa 15” has seen a large number of players have their likenesses recreated in order to make the game feel as realistic as possible. The likes of Lee Cattermole are right there in front of your eyes as you play, for once the teams lower down the table have been shown a bit of respect on this front, and many more fans will get to control their favourite players. This is a big improvement from the last game and something which really makes me smile as I play, because I enjoy knowing that these players are no longer indistinguishable figures with footballer’s names. I also feel that having so many players actually ‘in the game’ makes Ultimate Team far more entertaining, because getting a player like Wayne Routledge in a gold pack no longer feels like a sick joke, I can enjoy having this player as part of my squad.
Despite this praise, I still believe that every player in the Premier League should’ve had their face scanned, or at least a large majority, simply because of the financial power of EA. They have the resources to employ thousands of people to work on this game from all around the world so I can’t personally understand what stops them from scanning every player’s face into the game, other than a request not to be in the game by a player.
I also think that there should be more variation in the weather which is available in this game, as there are only four types of weather condition to choose from, ‘Clear’, ‘Overcast’, ‘Rain’, and ‘Snow’. Each match only has one condition available to it, and you can’t control the severity of the snow falling on the grass or any other interesting features of that kind. The fact that you can’t simply randomise what weather you want for a particular game is just ludicrous, and most of the time I simply play in clear conditions because I forget to alter the weather in the settings.
In our tournament mode my brother and I have ten teams each from the Premier League in an effort to recreate the experience in our living rooms considering the fact that we will never get the chance to actually be there on the pitch. But how can things possibly feel authentic when we have to agree on weather conditions prior to each match? I hate the fact that I can’t play in the rain or the snow against a human opponent because my opposition doesn’t enjoy doing so and this would be very easy to alter, but like so many things in “Fifa 15” this problem has been overlooked.
A clever way to solve this problem would be to put intermittent weather conditions into the game, so that you can start a match with lovely clear skies and end it in pouring rain, but I don’t see that happening in the near future. I admit that adding something like this into “Fifa” could be a challenge because it seems like the developers can only create a rigid variation of their last game each time, but I’d like to see a future football game feature dynamic weather.
I’d also like there to be some kind of wind in the game because this could potentially effect the way the ball moves in the air and change the gameplay. Right now the ball moves in the same way in the air every time a particular technique is used – the ball never swerves unnaturally and it never dips at the last second – so it would be genuinely interesting if EA implemented a feature into the game which forced players to consciously alter their style of play. When you sit back and consider issues like this, ones relating to game physics, you come to the conclusion that anyone who claims that “Fifa 15” is realistic is simply deluded; what they mean is that it’s the most realistic version of “Fifa” that they have played so far, but that means almost nothing given that each time a new “Fifa” is released the developers simply build on what they had the previous year.
The inclusion of a system whereby you actually enforce tactics on each individual player is a great idea, and it sounds fantastic when explained in an interview, but in reality the system doesn’t work, and the choices available to gamers are painfully dull and limited. I use the same tactics in almost every match, regardless of the team I am using, because all I am hoping for is to ‘Cut Passing Lanes’ and ‘Get In Behind’. I would praise EA for adding this feature if it was executed well, because it could be genuinely revolutionary, but it isn’t utilised properly in “Fifa 15”. I want to tell my players so much more than I can; I want to tell each individual player what their role is from set pieces so that I can be truly effective, as is done in “Football Manager”, or tell my A.I. to make diagonal runs across defenders so that everything doesn’t feel so static! However, I’m sure that even if I did that it wouldn’t make a difference, because when I tell my comrades to do something extremely simple and clear they just ignore me, allowing huge holes to appear in my defence. If I ask Ashley Westwood to ‘Stay Back Whilst Attacking’, and tell Fabian Delph to ‘Get Forward’ whilst we are on the attack, I don’t expect to see Westwood sprinting past Delph into the final third!
The new features in this game aren’t actually positive, they’re all completely lacking, meaning that this just feels like another game from EA in which they have lazily added unfinished elements at the last minute, which sound impressive, but are actually being saved for the next annual instalment (something we saw in “Fifa 14” on next-gen consoles, and with the recently released “NHL 15”).
The techniques for passes and shots in “Fifa 15” are still far from perfect, and I feel that “Pro Evolution Soccer” has the edge on that front. In fact, I still think that the demo for that game is a much more enjoyable experience than playing this game! When shooting on the turn the players still lose their balance far too often, and they simply refuse to wrap their foot around the ball to actually generate power, meaning that cutting inside and having a shot usually consists in curling the ball into the bottom corner, rather than trying to smash the ball into the top corner. This is a fault which could be overlooked, but I’m pointing it out because even though I’m supposed to feel immersed in the game, I’m restricted in terms of what I can do if I really want to win the match. The way that the game is designed means that no matter what’s added there are only one or two effective ways to play the game, so each game doesn’t feel organic or new at all, every game is the same.
The goalkeeping is different as promised, and it is true that there are lots of new ways to score, but these ways will usually be courtesy of a mistake which is in no way your fault. These moments are completely unfair, and they ruin your enjoyment of the game, because you can be the better team in terms of possession and chances, but in one moment that can be ruined by a goalkeeping error. I will concede that this happens in real football, but this is a game and in games you should be allowed to succeed as a result of your performance, and things have to be consistent. If the opposition keeper makes a save at one end, your keeper should save a similar shot, supposing that this shot is actually saveable. If this doesn’t happen then gamers really do feel let down and angry, and so they aren’t really having a good time.
Fun shouldn’t be sacrificed for ‘authenticity’, especially when that authenticity isn’t properly achieved, and you deserve to be rewarded for ability. When a bad player who has put far less time into the game than you can just play a through ball to a fast striker, side foot a shot down the middle, and end up 1-0 ahead, how can you not resent the game?
Speed is still far too important in “Fifa 15”, and the defending on the game is absolutely atrocious. The A.I. in this game are so stupid that it is truly laughable, and the way they act is in no way realistic. As you attack you will notice that the defenders on the opposing team will part like the Red Sea, so that you can simply tap the Y button, (or the Δ button depending on your console of choice), and be in on goal. This might seem like it isn’t a problem if you enjoy scoring the same sorts of goals over and over, but for me finding the net has become completely joyless, and I have only been playing the game for a matter of days.
The online matches can be very frustrating, because the penalty for bad internet connection is extremely unfair. Whether or not your WiFi is working is completely out of your control and is something which you shouldn’t be penalised for. I lost my first Seasons game on “Fifa 15” because my internet went down for all of ten seconds, something which very rarely happens in my household. I had no way of changing the situation and I was in control of the match, but because of the way things work on “Fifa” I was given a loss.
I am aware that a lot of people quit on “Fifa” when they aren’t winning, and those people should obviously be punished with a loss, but there has to be a way to distinguish between quitting and losing connection. If I lose connection I shouldn’t then lose the match, the match should become void for me and my opponent should get a victory because his time has been wasted. That loss will be on my record forever, until the next version of this game comes out, so I will always have to see it and think of how poorly regulated the online gameplay is on “Fifa 15”.
As I started the game up I was shown a series of rewards which I was supposed to receive for sticking with “Fifa” and playing the previous game, one of which was the promise that I would start in Division 9 on Seasons mode, because I had achieved a certain level on that mode in “Fifa 14”. That didn’t happen. I am in Division 10 with 0 wins, 0 draws, and 1 loss. I was also given some packs on Ultimate Team to get my squad up and running, which I received, but I was given less packs than my brother who hadn’t played the game any more than me. I have completely lost faith in EA’s ability to control what goes on in their games, as it seems to me that they are happy to push out games each year which are full of bugs, glitches and mistakes, all in the name of profit.
Be A Pro clubs online is still as fun as ever, and I’m not ashamed to say that I clocked over 100 games on “Fifa 14” on that particular mode. However, as my player was transferred across from “Fifa 14” he must have lost his leg or some other footballing apparatus, because he was returned to me with a rating of 76. I’m so glad that I put the effort into the last game to score 70+ goals, so that my Pro could have a shooting rating of just 73 in this edition.
Now, I realise that many people get a great deal of enjoyment out of this game, and I won’t deny that when I’m playing on career mode, on an easy enough difficulty, I enjoy hitting 6 or 7 in the back of the net. Still, I can’t see myself ever really enjoying this game if a team presents a challenge to me. The defensive positioning of the A.I. around me and their lack of responsiveness towards any kind of movement is completely diabolical and ruins any enjoyment for me, because I just can’t be bothered to change player every two seconds to fill a gap I see opening. I know what you’re thinking, ‘this guy can’t play the game, he must just be rubbish’, but no, I’ve won tournaments on these games before and I don’t mean on tournament mode! I mean against strangers in public places for money and or prizes!
I have already lost my patience with the online aspect of “Fifa 15”, tournament mode just makes me angry, and career mode is either too easy, too hard, or not very fun at all depending on what difficulty you decide to play on. Ultimate Team is quite dull because nothing crucial has changed to keep things interesting, although the prospect of getting better players than people I know does at least give me some motivation to carry on playing.
Overall I feel that this is an average game with a lot of faults and I think that people would be better off saving their money for upcoming titles such as “Alien: Isolation”, “Sunset Overdrive”, and “Ori and the Blind Forest”. If you didn’t have friends to play with on this game then I don’t think that it would be worth the time of day, and even if you do, all the game does is take that time and fill it with repetitive gameplay and boring cut scenes. This instalment has changed a lot of things about “Fifa” as a whole, but it has also ruined other great things and has inherited a lot of the issues which should’ve been resolved from the predecessor. “Fifa 15” is either a game which doesn’t integrate new mechanisms effectively or a manipulation of the fact that sports games are released annually; either way it’s a step backwards for the franchise.