FIFA 15 - Our First Impressions

FIFA 15 is only days away now! With that it mind we took to the world of demos to get our first experience and, in short, we were very impressed indeed

Release Date: 19/09/2014

FIFA 15 Demo Review

It really is a fantastic time to be a football fan. We've just had the exhilaration of the World Cup (unless you're a Brazil, England or Spain fan..), the Premier League is back in full swing and, as if that wasn't enough, FIFA 15 is only days away now! We really are being spoilt, aren't we? With that in mind, we took to the world of demos to get our first experience of FIFA 15 and, in short, we were very impressed indeed!

The Beautiful Game Made More Beautiful

As we ventured into the FIFA 15 Demo, the first thing we noticed is how absolutely stunning it is. Once you launch the demo you're immediately launched into a bit of a tasty derby in the form of Liverpool Vs. Manchester City, and it looks beautiful! Player models looked more refined than FIFA 14, as you would expect, with FIFA 15 adding an extra layer of authenticity to the world's most popular league by adding over 200 new player models and all 20 stadiums from the Barclays' Premier League! So whether you're playing at the Emirates' Stadium or Selhurst Park, you'll get a real sense of the emotion at some of the most iconic stadiums in the league! Our first experience of this was at Anfield, with the Liverpool faithful singing their hearts out to “You'll Never Walk Alone”, it got us suitable pumped up for the match we were about to play!

FIFA 15 has seemingly brought the game closer to its real life counter-part. Even the pitches look stunningly redesigned; pitch degradation allows the pitch to progressively become cut up. As the game goes on, big tackles and heavy turns will leave visible marks on the pitch, again adding that layer of realism to the game. Players will react to events differently depending on their personality. Miss a shot early on and they'll clap and encourage you, continue to blast the ball into row Z and they'll become frustrated that you refuse to pass. Keep landing hard tackles on someone and it could all result in an angry exchange between the two players involved (we can see Mario Ballotelli becoming quite active in this respect).

While we're on tackles, man-to-man battles have been given a complete overhaul in FIFA 15. Tackles are brutal in FIFA 15, there's no other word for it. That's not a bad thing by any stretch of the imagination, just like in real life if you land a heavy tackle on a player they will be upended and come clattering down to the floor; it's extremely satisfying putting Lionel Messi on the floor, especially when you're 3-0 down against Barcelona as Boca Juniors (we're not bitter whatsoever). As a by product of landing heavy tackles, players kits visibly get muddy, it's another nice little touch. All these changes are somewhat superficial in terms of gameplay, and unless you're a passionate FIFA player you might not really notice them all that much, but they all add up to bring the game that little bit closer to the real thing!

Not Just a Coat of Paint

All these changes certainly make the game look better, but they don't necessarily alter the game play all that much. However the moment we stepped onto the pitch we realised EA haven't just made cosmetic changes, there's some real updates to the game play as well.

One of the first things we noticed was how fluid player movement was. Gone are the days where you felt restricted in your players' direction and turning. FIFA 15 gives you the freedom of the pitch to express yourself and outwit the opposition. Players with good close control are able to take players on and slip through the defenders. Lionel Messi is, as you would expect, an expert in this respect, as we learnt when he went on a slaloming run through 3 of our defenders to score in a 3-0 defeat in Barcelona Vs. Boca Juniors (honestly, we're not bitter).

Pace also seems to have been given a nice update in the game, some of the quicker players in the demo, Raheem Sterling for example, can leave defenders in their dust. But fear not, pace hasn't been overpowered; players won't go steaming into space with no chance of being hunted down. It seems that pace over the first 10 yards or so has been given an improvement, making those quick players valuable assets (Theo Walcott and Cristiano Ronaldo should be fun to play with). Pace isn't everything though, look at Diego Costa and Zlatan Ibrahimovic. Physical players are able to hold the ball up against defenders, bringing other players into the game, meaning you'll be able to alter you tactics and play style based on what seems to work best for you.

It's not just about one player though, it's a team effort and FIFA 15 replicates this better than previous entries. Both your team mates and opponents now recognize what's happening on the pitch and adjust their positions and play styles to fit the situation. AI players will now make more intelligent runs to give you an outlet and defenders will stand their ground or drop back depending on the situation they find themselves in. Find yourself behind in a match and the opposition might begin to park the bus and drop deeper to stop you scoring. Conversely, find yourself 2-1 up with 5 minutes to go and your opponents will start throwing players into the box in a desperate plight to score a goal. It all adds to the realism of the match, evolving and changing based events on-pitch.

The Man Between The Sticks

Goalies, they live a hard life don't they. Think of Rob Green and David James, they'll always be remembered for their mistakes (rightly or wrongly). This has also been true in previous FIFA games. It has, in all honesty, been a bit of an Achilles heel in previous instalments. Goalies have suffered from some poor AI in the past, leading them to some pretty rash decisions; there's nothing worse than losing a game at the last minute due to a blunder that you had absolutely no control over.

FIFA 15 has improved goalkeepers tenfold. They now react intelligently, making keepers harder to beat. New save animations and last second save reactions have turned them from an accident waiting to happen into one of your most valuable assets. Positioning is improved making it more difficult to score a goal. But they're not unbeatable, no goalkeeper is (sorry Neuer), and scoring a goal now feels more rewarding than ever. FIFA 15 hasn't overpowered keepers, they've just brought them more in-line with the rest of the players on the pitch, giving you confidence in your teams last wall of defence.

Goalkeepers aren't perfect though, on more than one occasion we had our goalie make a save only to push it into the path of an onrushing attacker. Again this isn't a bad thing, you see it week in week out in real-life, but we anticipate a few angry moments and broken controllers as a result.

Goalkeepers were a big point for EA this year and they seem to have made enough changes to bring them in line with the rest of the team, making them a valuable asset to have at the back.

They Think It's All Over

The Demo gave us limited access to the modes we have come to love in FIFA, so we still have a lot to look forward to!

We got a glimpse at the FIFA Ultimate Team but didn't really get to see many of the changes yet. Updates to Friendly Seasons allow you to track your stats against your friends to prove who the best of the best is. You'll also be able to get some of the best players in the game straight away with the new loan system. There's a lot to come from FIFA Ultimate Team and we can see a lot of time being spent in the game mode.

We also can't wait for Be A Pro and Career Mode. With the updates the game has made graphically, Be A Pro promises to be an immersive and brilliant experience that everyone should try once (you'll be hooked after that). And the staple of FIFA, Career Mode, is sure to be as addictive as previous instalments have shown!

It's Almost Time For Kick Off

FIFA 15 is almost upon us and, if the demo is anything to go by, it's shaping up to be the best in the franchise yet. With updated graphics, game play and overhauls to team mechanics, the team behind FIFA 15 have truly found a way to open up and harness the Ignite Engine. FIFA 15 is out September 26th on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 and PC. Now, if you'll excuse us, we're off to take on Barcelona as Boca Juniors and get some revenge (honestly, I swear, we're not bitter at all).

FIFA 15 Demo Review
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