‘FIFA 15′ – the Good, the Bad and the Damn Ref

It’s that time of year again, the annual release of a new FIFA with new things we love, but also hate. Every FIFA fan eagerly anticipates just what the new systems are going to offer to your gameplay, and how they will either improve you, or make you break your 23rd controller. After playing it for many hours since release, here are some ten highlights which either drastically improve the game, or continue to hinder it.

The new and improved ball control

I’ve never been one of those players who like to use all these crazy tricks to get around the opposing defender, mainly because they never work for me. Instead I prefer to pass my way around, before cutting through the defence with a finely placed through ball. However with the new and improved ball control, my game has been drastically improved in terms of dribbling ability. It was immediately apparent just how responsive the players were compared to FIFA 14. In FIFA 14 the ball control response was good, but it always felt like it lacked the precision you would see in real life. Now that has changed, your player turns in whichever way you want with immediate effect. It’s so easy to throw a feint and glide past the defender and run through on goal. However, in creating this, there is a huge downside.

Bye bye defending, hello goal scoring

I am a devoted Manchester United fan, and although it’s been a turbulent season and a bit, there are two painfully apparent differences in the team. One, they look amazing in attack and have an abundance of choice. It looks beautiful the way they pass and dribble the ball and in turn, creates a lot of excitement. Then there is the atrocious defending, which has seemingly gone out the window. It is the closest you can come to describing FIFA 15, Beautiful in attack, shocking in defence. Sure, it’s still early days and there’s obviously a warming period to learn all the new tricks and mechanics.

In FIFA 14, the football equivalent of a noob-tube kill was to have your kick-off player immediately sprint to the goal and lob a through ball over the defence and score. It didn’t always work, but I hated every single player who tried it and vowed I would never fall to such depths. Now in FIFA 15 I can see a new noob-tube scoring chance arise as a result of the improved ball control. From kick-off, have your player easily run through the middle of the field because for some reason there is no midfield from kick off. Seriously, everyone just evaporates and runs forward. They all just seem to stand and watch as the attacker just sprints past. Once you run through the empty midfield, throw a feint, sprint ahead with a flick of your analogue stick and boom, you’ll most likely score. You done goofed it up with your “tactical defending” EA.

The shooting, what on earth is going on

I’ll admit, in FIFA 14 it was so easy to score a goal once you had sight of it. It would immediately sail into the corner of the goal with minimal effort. Now it’s a different story. I don’t know how many times I’ve been through on goal, with what seemed like a certain goal. I shape my player up in anticipation to shoot, only for the ball to go 10 meters away from the goal. It seems without using a curling or finesse shot it’s not going to result in a goal. There is no accuracy involved and it seems like out of every 10 shots, 2 will go in if you’re lucky. It seems like they are still trying to find the middle ground to make it seem realistic. I don’t like that you have to rely on finessing or curling it every time you shoot just to get it on target.

Static defending, you will give me a heart attack

Every FIFA player knows that once you accidently change your player as a through ball passes by you that there is no hope in chasing the attacker. For some reason EA still hasn’t fixed the static defending when you change your player. There is nothing more frustrating than trying to change to the closest defender to the attacker, only to see your defender seemingly get stuck to the ground and stop moving while the attacker runs through. After all these years, surely they could have something implemented to stop it from happening. I beg of you EA, stop this madness.

Keepers, you’re facing the wrong way

We all know the goalkeepers can be sometimes completely retarded. Sometimes they go for a superman punch but completely miss everything by about two meters or just palm out the weakest shots when it seemed easier to catch it. Now EA have stepped it up by making them even more error-prone, particularly when it comes to corners. For some reason the keepers are hopeless as soon as the ball is headed towards them, often with their back facing against the play and leaving the attackers with an empty net to head the ball into. I really hope this is an issue that is addressed because it is incredibly frustrating.

Refereeing is exactly like real life, but not in a good way

Referees in real life are always prone to making ludicrous decisions, often resulting in horrible penalty decisions or ridiculous red cards. Now EA have gone an introduced that into FIFA 15, with often disastrous decisions being made, or not being made. So many times I’ve been running through to goal with a defender chasing when all of a sudden after a few heavy tugs my player is completely thrown off the ball and no free kick being awarded.

If it were a rare occasion I wouldn’t mind so much, but this happens so frequently that is it borderline stupid. I don’t know what the team at EA were doing when they made the referee mechanics, but they didn’t do a good job at all. Goalkeepers concede penalties when they punch the ball away and happen to fall onto an opponent and players seem to crumble when the attacker is slightly bumped. Whether it’s a design flaw or what they actually intended when they said they want players to feel the emotion, because I definitely feel a lot of emotion, but not the good kind.

Passing fluidity

It’s not all doom and gloom, there are lots of aspects EA get spot on. In this case, it is the passing fluidity and animations that have reaped the benefits. There is nothing more satisfying than seeing a one-touch build up play full of little flicks, back heels and quick passes in real life. EA have finally brought this kind of quick action build up play into the game, resulting in some of the most aesthetic passing and build up gameplay in FIFA that I’ve ever seen.

Some defenders somehow get superman speed

This one is more a rant, because it is absolutely stupid. Remy with a 10+ attributes card making his pace 99, against Mathieu, a smoking 30 year old centre back who isn’t known for pace somehow makes easy work of the speed difference. Countless times I have seen defenders somehow catch pacey attackers who in real life would have no chance of catching, yet in FIFA they somehow activate god mode and hunt them down with relative ease. It literally makes no sense and causes so much frustration, especially in big games.

AI players have zero awareness

One big issue I noticed after two days of playing FIFA 15 is the players have no sense of awareness when it comes to defending if you don’t control them. For some reason the defending player doesn’t run with the oncoming attacker, particularly before a cross and leaves the attacker wide open. I don’t understand why the AI defender can’t just run with the attacker, especially when it’s the centre back. It really seems like EA dropped the ball when it came to defending, and opted just go goal scoring frenzy games. Sure, it’s fun to score lots of goals, but it’s incredibly frustrating to concede easily avoidable goals.

Did I mention the referee’s?

Seriously EA, what’s going on?

Let us know in the comments below about your experience with FIFA 15 so far, and whether you agree or disagree with some of my dot points!