The world is chalk full of football fans. Of course what I mean, being North American, is ‘Soccer’ fans, but when we refer to ‘the beautiful game’ this way, the rest of the world just think we’re jerks. At any rate, taking a ball from one end of a field to another has got to be the first ‘competitive multiplayer’ sports that ever there was, and folks are playing it from Boston to Bangladesh. No wonder then that footy has a rabid gaming fan base, and when it comes to the Soccer (football) Sports Simulation there’s only one game in town, EA’s Fifa 15.
Release Date: September 23, 2014
As the original way mankind started competing (well besides in Love and War) sports have found their way into everything. Video games, as a natural platform is simply a digital extension of our drive to compete, so no surprise that Sports Games have been with us since the beginning. Fairly simple at the outset, they’ve grown alongside the consoles until, along with their friends Racing games, they’ve been at the cutting edge of graphical and technical abilities. With Fifa, the ‘Soccer’ game play experience has been tweaked and improved for years. They’re getting pretty good.
At this point (as I mentioned previously) with sports as with games like Street Fighter, the yearly iteration is more or less the same game revisited, but becomes the best platform for that brand of competition, one update at a time. With sports, atmosphere becomes an important part of the equation, and sure enough, the slogan this year is ‘Feel the Game’. Of course, game play rules the day, but with that well established, immersion becomes more and more important. There are few athletic endeavors that rival a big footy match. The charge in the air, the ‘big game’ spectacle, the feel of an important day on the pitch, EA and Fifa, particularly with the hardware power behind PS4 and Xbox One, are kicking that up a notch. A first for the Fifa franchise, all 20 Premier League stadiums are included in game, along with 31 generics. Big active stadium crowds and reactions bring it all together with an ever expanding list of animations in a system EA are calling ‘Emotional Intelligence’. 600 animations that provide those little touches based on in-game events (missed goals, penalties, etc). As well as the ‘Living Pitch’, giving the stadium and pitch itself a character roll. Changing as the game progresses, the field takes damage, flags move, individual grass stalks wave majestically… you get the picture.
Artificial Intelligence, the sophistication of team and opponent AI, is another area under constant iteration, and Fifa 15 has upped the stakes ‘Man-to-Man’. Calling them ‘Man-to-Man Battles’, its a touch of the nitty-gritty, with shirt pulling, possession tackles, shoulders in the chest (basically the dirty hooliganism you’ve come to expect from the real thing) added to the arsenal in the battle for the ball. AI is more adaptable too. In a move that seems to be making its way through gaming, team mates and opponents can react to the events in game, less mindless drone, more sophisticated ally… or enemy. For the Fantasy Team types is the Fifa Ultimate Team ‘Concept Squad’. Which lets players put their dream team together and take it on the road to battle their friends. Mix, manage, test, rinse repeat, and put yourself through the emotional gauntlet of fire testing your team. Win and the howls of your friends are your reward, lose… and *shudder* they never let you forget. A loan system lets you take out highly sought after players for a set number of matches, which, lets face it,they’re ringers. Don’t spend em all in one place.
With the capabilities of the new graphical power pushing things ever onward, the Soccer / Football video game has never looked better. With an increasing emphasis on dynamic systems that keep the experience fresh every time, they’ve never played better either. Whether you’re a hardcore footy fan, or simply love the competition of a sports game, Fifa 15 is the best Soccer Simulation experience there is … until next year.
Fifa 15 is available now for just about every console there is.