Disenchanted is probably the word I’d use to describe my feelings towards the FIFA franchise over recent years. There’s no doubt it’s the premier mainstream footballing game on the market, although it’s main rival Pro Evolution Soccer, does have its own charm, but the long-running EA Sports franchise has felt very samey and scripted when the new season novelty has worn off.
FIFA 15 is the second next-gen release of the series, but since FIFA 14 was during the Xbox One and PS4’s’ awkward adolescent stage, it’s fair to say that FIFA 15 is the first truely next-gen FIFA game.
Thankfully, when finally sitting down and getting some hands-on time with the latest instalment on Xbox One, it’s safe to say that for the first time in a long time, I have smiled and been impressed with what I was experiencing.
Obviously the game looks beautiful. The Ignite Engine which powers the physics and tackle animations of the game is really hitting its potential, and the next-gen hardware definitely shows how glorious it can be, especially in the close-up replays.
While the game looks gorgeous, runs smoothly and has a bunch of new animations and presentation tweaks that’ll get the oohhhs and ahhhhs going, the most important thing that EA has nailed this year is the ‘feel’.
It’s hard to describe this ‘feel’, but anyone familiar with sports games, and particularly FIFA, will vouch for it.
The game feels more responsive and reactive to your actions on the pitch. Your players turn slower and more aline with a real-world gesture, which is the way it should be. Shots on goal and the goalkeeper reactions don’t feel too scripted or predictable, and instead, you’ll be treated to some tougher keepers (making those eventual goals all that more satisfying), but also some unexpected moments – something FIFA has lost in recent instalments.
Awkward deflections, unpredictable trajectories and more dynamic ball physics make the entire experience feel fresh and innovative, albeit familiar to those who have adored the franchise for years.
Ahead of its release, FIFA 15 was a ‘maybe’ in my mind, but after taking the plunge, I can clearly see that the only thing holding back EA Sports’ innovation in recent years was the technology. FIFA 15 has raised the bar far beyond what was expected, and all the franchise needed was a new next-gen platform to do it on.