It seems like every year the folks at EA Sports arrive at E3 with a ton of promises for their upcoming iteration of FIFA. Sometimes those promises are bigger than others, and other times they are minute in terms of the grand scheme of things.
For FIFA 15, however, it appears that the power of the next-gen consoles has helped the developers refine the series’ gameplay and presentation into arguably the most realistic soccer experience yet. It may not feature the most revolutionary new features or modes (EA Sports has yet to say much about that), but as far as a nice leap forward FIFA 15 certainly looks the part.
Visually, EA Sports has been able to improve on the character models from FIFA 14 in some key ways. Players now more closely resemble their real life counterparts both in facial detail and body make-up.
One of the key areas the devs highlighted as part of their FIFA 15 presentation included the way players’ bodies look lean and muscular instead of awkwardly bulbous like in past years. Granted, it’s a small change, but one that helps up the realism when looking at players run on the pitch.
Taking things a bit deeper, FIFA 15 also includes a new emotional intelligence system whereby players react to each other based on certain parameters. Say, for example, a goalie lets in an easy goal. Then, his teammates will react with disappointment, shaking their heads in disapproval. Or, if a player gets a red card then their teammates will show similar disappointment while the opposing team will cheer the referee’s decision. Again, this is a very slight change, but one that further reinforces realistic on-field play.
Speaking of the field, FIFA 15 will now have the most realistic pitch yet. With the game’s new living pitch system, the field will degrade over time, showing wear and tear from players consistently running back and forth across it. Moreover, the blades of grass will actually react to player contact, whether it be a slide tackle or a goalkeeper diving.
But, perhaps FIFA 15‘s biggest changes deal with contextual tackling and the game’s improved dribbling system. For tackling, players will no longer push the ball way out in front of them in a challenge, but will instead try to keep it close enough to collect post-tackle. For years FIFA fans have maligned the way slide tackles usually result in the ball racing 5 yards away, and the EA Sports devs have finally presented a solution.
The improved dribbling for FIFA 15 favors a players’ skill set and strong foot now more than ever, giving each a different dribbling style. Lionel Messi, for example, will now favor light taps with his left foot, as he is prone to do in real soccer matches. And as a result gamers will now have greater control over their players’ movements, but also the game will look much closer to real life.
After a quick rundown of the game’s new features, we finally went hands-on with the game to see how these changes would impact actual play. For the most part, the FIFA 15 experience resembled FIFA 14, but the tackles and dribbling were noticeable improvements. It was easier to predict how to play a ball on defense, and striking on offense delivers a greater sense of control.
At the end of the day, though, it’s hard to determine whether FIFA 15‘s key changes, or at least those on display for our E3 2014 demo, are enough to set it apart from the pack. The game certainly plays and looks better, but we’d have to see what modes are available and how the game evolves over time to better evaluate whether this is a must-buy for fans. For now, however, EA Sports appears to be on the right track.
What do you think of the new features for FIFA 15? What else would you like to see EA Sports add to the game?
FIFA 15 releases September 23, 2014 for PC, PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, and Xbox One.
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