It’s that time of year again and football fans, like me, can finally breathe a sigh of relief as the club season finally kicks off and we get to watch our favourite teams battle it out over another exciting campaign. It is also that time of year where we all decide whether or not to buy the newest FIFA installment and if such a purchase can wait another year…

First off, and before divulging into the details of FIFA 15, I will briefly address the pessimist. We all know one; the person who is ever excited to point out every downfall that a new FIFA may have and to shift the blame of losing or playing badly onto EA’s shoulders. Tisk tisk. These complaints are usually the same dreary comments expected from football fans after their teams drop points and every individual’s outlook is based (obviously) on expert opinion. Most football fans are the same, and there is a distinct likeness between complaints about real life football matches and those that EA encapsulates us in. From issues about player and team ratings, which are allegedly biased and based on a flagrant disregard for objectivety, to realism. Many problems players find are as a result of frustration, or losing as some like to call it, and this boils down to unfair criticism that can subtract from the success that EA has achieved. Yes, FIFA 15 is more difficult than previous installments and yes, the goalkeepers are on the very best sports enhancement drugs this planet has to offer but that does that detract from EA’s vision? I think not.

EA have a task every year to feed the addiction to the world’s most addicted fans. With this comes a guarantee of a rasp of annual sales but also the unwavering and relentless fanboys who will find issues where they ought not to be found. Personally, I think that this is perhaps the best FIFA installment since FIFA 2010 and it is one that can finally exude a sense of anticipation and excitement that I have not found since then. It is easy to become accustomed to the magic world that has been created and perhaps the fact that this title is released every year makes the issues that much more stale. Instead of huge improvements and vast graphical changes, EA have the task of incrementally improving their model and fine tuning their next titles to reach the ultimate combination of realism and fun. This includes thoughts of controls and how to manipulate the combinations to allow players to do what they want to do, when they want to do it. Just like real life.

Every FIFA has its frustrating moments and 15 is not lacking there I can promise you that. As I have mentioned the goalkeepers are extremely difficult to beat and require some world beaters to get onto the score sheet. EA have really worked on the mechanics regarding the ‘keepers but I like this fact and it forces players to find new ways to score goals. Just as in real life it can be difficult to breakdown defenses and even the best of teams, like Manchester United, will sometimes need some creativity to score, or perhaps a special moment. I like this because it will have you celebrating in front of the Telly as though your team have actually scored and this brings you into the game and captivates you in a way that you want to be.

Then there are the ever present connection issues when playing on the network against some really obsessed FIFA freak. I’m sure these issues will be addressed in the near future but it can be very disappointing to experience lag when playing for online kudos. My favourite mode, as ever, is manager mode. This is where you can take control of any team and make decisions as though you were actually in control of a football club. A frustrating aspect is that players seem to get injured constantly and are always tired, despite being professional footballers. It is more annoying when your favourites get injured and you are stuck without them for the next week to two months. As a manager it can be a sad moment when the board of your club make decisions on your behalf and force your hand, something that is prevalent in 15. This extends to releasing unhappy players without your consent.

Despite my moaning though (as expected being an addict myself) the improvements are there and I’m open minded enough to appreciate them and acknowledge that EA are always heading in the right direction. Passing has become more sensitive than ever allowing you to weight a ball perfectly. Naturally, this can be more difficult but it makes it so much more rewarding. This sensitivity, in terms of direction and power, is spread across the board to shooting, crossing and heading and creates a more realistic feel instead of a generic lock on directional type of gameplay. The players’ movement is hugely improved, making teams harder to break down but also giving opportunity to players to see through balls or long field passes. Running off the ball has become more diversified which is good considering the importance of off the ball play. Graphically, the audience have been given a makeover, albeit not the best. The pitch also takes a battering as though in real life from boot marks to slide tackles and player kits get dirty. Players actually smile when they score, which can be strange if playing with Ibrahimovic or Balotelli. 15 also allows you two extra levels of in play game strategy; “park the bus” (like Chelsea) and “all out attack”. Use with caution though and during periods of the game that you really think necessary.

In the end, it is an amazing game and it evolves with us as players. Parts of the season you will find yourself battering teams and then suddenly it will become impossible to score for other parts. Frustrating, but realistic. I love this installment and I can’t see myself getting bored as quickly as before. I also get irate at points, but I wouldn’t feel like this if it wasn’t worth it. And it is. If you are a footy fan, whether you usually hate FIFA or not, this is the FIFA for you.

Fifa 15 Rating: 9/10

Check out the Fifa 15 website: Fifa 15

Nicholas Holt – PS3 Games Writer | About me – Scared of Batman, Parktown Prawns and Vanilla Ice-cream. Dream Wingman: Mahatma Gandhi. Studying: Bcom Law at WITS.