FIFA 15 Review

Dan Webb

I could sit here for five minutes and write some inane segue about FIFA and how it’s a way of life and much more than a game, but you know what? That’s just not my style. My style – just like on the FIFA pitch – is just to hoof it up the pitch and get my head on it, so I’m going to emulate that successful age-old football tactic in this here review. I’m effectively going to punt the game up in the air, pick it apart at its seams and see what happens… Not literally, of course.

So here we are, another year, another FIFA, and after a few months of hearing EA Sports hail its upcomig FIFA as the greatest yet, and the biggest in terms of innovation, guess what? It’s not. In fact, it’s almost stagnated a little, and aside from the gameplay, which feels quite different in many respects – and not all for good reasons – it’s still the same ol’ FIFA.

They never walk alone. Look.

That means many hours – and often real money! – sunk into Ultimate Team, which now has loan deals and concept teams, it means you smashing your mates online or on the couch in matches or seasons, the usual training drills, the hefty career mode and so on. All the usual gubbins are present and correct with nothing new of note, really. However, the game itself has had a lot of tweaks, some for better, some for worst.

First things first, the presentation of the overall game has had a lick of paint, especially for Premier League teams. We’re not just talking perfectly recreated stadiums for the English teams now, but fancy new pre-match graphics and even the UI has been given a tweak, all for the better. That annoying button delay in swapping players on the bench is no more too, huzzah! Who would have thought that would have taken years to fix, huh!?

The match day presentation has had some improvements too, whether you’re talking about the emotion on the pitch – whether that’s players reacting after a horrendous challenge or head in hands moments when your trusty centreforward misses that one-on-one; it’s all pretty nifty stuff – or the reactions from the crowd, the bench or the sideline, FIFA has never been closer to looking like and feeling like the real thing.

Even the teams in FIFA 15 adjust to the strength of your team and your play-style. Playing bottom of the league or an inferior opponent, don’t expect them to have three up front trying to smash the goals in. Instead, expect them to park the bus and look to hit you on the counter. It’s actually rather great trying to break down teams when they stick 11 men behind the ball.

From a gameplay perspective though, what’s new? Well, for starters you can now skip those annoying waits in play while your player faffs around trying to get the ball from out of row Z. However, they’ve replaced some of those agonising moments with various unskippable cinematics at times – obviously masking some loading times – which are just as annoying.

"On me 'ead, son!"

There’s also a load of great animations too, like flicks, bursts of flair, back heels and what not, which are all fantastic, but at the same time, some players look like they’re running with a stick up their arse – some of the sprint animations are so unnatural it’s almost ridiculous, but I guess that’s the problem with creating a realistic looking game. Good old uncanny valley!

It’s also bizarre that a game that’s supposedly faithfully recreating the beautiful game negates the pace and intensity of it. Fast players in FIFA 15 don’t really have as much of an edge as they should. And that teammate AI? Well, I know footballers are generally seen as less-than intelligent beings, but FIFA 15 makes them look like amoebas. Just once in a while it would be nice to see them get into sensible areas of space and make darting runs. Just once.

The main changes from a gameplay perspective come with the goalkeepers and the shooting. Goalkeepers are supposed to have new animations, reactions and be “next-gen.” Well, if by next-gen EA Canada means that they’re superhero-like the one minute and completely incompetent the next, then mission accomplished. It’s almost as if the shooting has been revamped to cater for these new goalkeepers as well, who on numerous occasions I beat from 30 plus yards with a floaty top corner shot. Did they shuffle back and try and save it? No. More often than not they just stood still and watched it go over their heads like a cat with a yarn of wool dangling above their head would do. They can save from point blank range without a second thought though, which when you think about it, is completely nuts.

Obligatory Messi screenshot #386.

In fact, I say floaty ball mechanics, but it feels like the whole ball physics of FIFA 15 have been completely reworked since FIFA 14. So much so that I was able to score 30-yard screamers with Accrington Stanley – a League 2 team in England. If anyone wants to see my A. Proctor screamer, I’d be more than willing to bust it out for you. It’s bordering on the ludicrous. The gulf between a League 2 player like Proctor and one of the world’s greatest, Ronaldo, aren’t as far apart as they should be, not just from shooting, but balance, pace and positioning as well. Barmy.

Don’t get me wrong, those tweaks don’t mean that the gameplay is awful. Far from it. It’s still fun, and on the whole, the gameplay is still as solid as ever, but FIFA 15 seems like a backwards step in the evolution of the franchise. The new animations definitely make things on the pitch seem closer to the real thing, which is nothing but a good thing, but the goalkeepers taint what is otherwise a solid experience. That and the floaty shooting. Also, the bloody penalties are still terrible as well! When are they going to fix those?

From an achievement perspective… well, it’s same old, same old for FIFA 15, but to be perfectly honest, I don’t envy making one achievement list for a football game, let alone making the 20-something lists they’ve done (including Street and mobile games). Expect lots of complete this, complete that, score this way, score that way, do this, do that and not much else.

FIFA 15 actually represents a bit of a crossroads for the franchise. It’s a series that’s been at the top of its game for so long, but with so much innovation over the last five or so years, and for so long, the question is how long can they keep it up? And perhaps, more importantly, how can you truly innovate with a sport that has such a limited scope for innovation? The simple answer is you can’t; you’ll eventually run out of ideas. FIFA 15 is an argument against the annualisation of sports games, and with little-to-no innovation and a few backwards steps, FIFA 15 seems to be languishing just outside the European qualification places. A decent iteration, yes, but I guess you could say it’s a sideways, heck, even backwards movement for the franchise, leaving the door wide open for PES.


While not as an impressive leap forward as FIFA 14 on next-generation consoles, FIFA 15 is still a solid package. The gameplay might have taken a sideways or even slightly backwards step, but at the moment, this is the closest to the beautiful game we have in terms of presentation and delivery. For now.

Form widget

Great soundtrack as usual, but the same repetitive commentary. If I hear Tyler and Smith tell me how Ibrahimovich isn’t a team player again anytime soon, I might have a breakdown.


Okay, we’re nearly a year into the new generation now, and to be honest, we expected a little more. Sure, the presentation has a new lick of paint, but with realistic visuals, some of the animations fall into that uncanny valley range a little too often.


It’s not that the new FIFA is bad or takes some getting used to, but there’s some odd design choices that make the overall experience not as fluid as years gone by. The goalkeepers are either superhero-like or terrible and the shooting is as unnatural as it’s ever been. It’s easier though, so if you’re after an easier FIFA, this is it.


Same ol’ FIFA with few-to-no surprises. Couch and online play is still the way forward as always, especially with your own Ultimate Team, but nothing really new of note here.


Despite the lack of innovation and creativity, FIFA 15 still manages to deliver an okay list. It’s very much same old, same old, but with this being their 20-something'th FIFA achievement list, we have a little sympathy for them. Only a bit though.

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