In a world of zonal marking, false nines and Borussia Dortmund’s extreme gegenpressing, FIFA’s tactical side could previously have been accused of being more Tim Sherwood than Pep Guardiola. Fortunately, 15 addresses that with significant success. The redesigned menus make it much easier to set up your team to play how you want them to, picking from simple styles (counter-attack, high press, possession, etc) and tweaking attitudes and instructions for individual players.
Team-mates also make more intelligent runs and signal where they want the ball to be played, which gives you far more confidence to play it into space. There are also more options when it comes to adjusting your team’s attack/defence balance, with new ‘Park The Bus’ and ‘All Out Attack’ options at either end of the spectrum. Catch a team on the break when they’ve chucked everybody forward and you’ll often be able to exploit their lack of numbers.
AI-controlled teams now use these more noticeably too, although they can be a little too simplistic. While it makes some sense for Man City to hoof high balls into the box for Dzeko when they’re 1-0 down and running out of time, we’ve also seen teams taking the ball to the corner flag in the last five minutes of a friendly that still stood at 0-0. Surely not even Jose Mourinho could be that negative.
Licence to thrill
As usual EA has squeezed every drop out of its official licences, this year adding every Premier League ground, including those of newcomers Leicester, Burnley and QPR, although it looks like we’ll have to wait until next year for the addition of Magic Ref Spray. Goal-line tech has made the cut, though, with refs visibly checking their watch to confirm the ball has crossed the line.
Pro Evo still waggles its Champions League licence in EA’s face but if it’s slick, Sky Sports-esque presentation you’re after, FIFA is still the daddy. Besides, any self-respecting football hipster is far more fussed about the Austrian cup, and that is present and correct.
While the commentary is still pretty repetitive, these days the commentators even chat about Financial Fair Play if you take charge of Chelsea, PSG or A.N. Other Enormobrand FC. A real sign of the times.
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Career and Ultimate Team are the two modes that keep many people coming back to FIFA again and again, and EA has adopted an ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ approach to both. Apart from some cosmetic changes to bring it in line with the rest of the game, Career mode is largely unchanged. It’s not going to beat Football Manager for depth but if you want to see Brighton & Hove Albion playing in Europe any time soon it’s probably your only chance.
Just as Bayern Munich’s style contains elements of the Spanish way, FIFA 15 will be familiar to players of the previous game. It’s certainly less of a jump than FIFA 13 to 14.
To some that will mean it’s not worth the upgrade but with an emphasis on fast, attacking play it mirrors what football fans see out on the pitch better than its predecessor.
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