Is anyone else quickly tiring of the new FIFA? It’s very addictive sure, as are all of the previous versions. But this copy seems to have more flaws than its predecessors.
Yeah, ok so they’ve removed the incredibly overpowered headers/crosses and corners from FIFA 14. We’ve all breathed a massive sigh of relief that someone of Messi’s size doesn’t rise above 6foot+ centre backs and plant the ball in the back of the net every time a half decent ball is whipped in. But in headers place, is a new overpowered demon. The near post finish. Nine times out of ten now, when a forward is through on goal, he will simply step to the side of the goal keeper and slide it into the near post bottom corner.
And who can blame them? I’m guilty of this myself. Well, you’d have to be stupid to try going across the keeper when almost every time you finesse in the near side, the goalie either; dives the other way, goes low when the ball is high or just lets the ball through the grand canyon left between his legs. I think keepers are the number one problem with this year’s issue of FIFA.
For those of you who didn’t play the BETA demo, the keepers were even worse than in the full game. EA has obviously tried to improve keeper realism by unveiling their “next gen” goalie. In the BETA, the easiest way to score was from corners. The goalkeeper when coming to claim the ball would resemble a mix between David De Gea in his early, flappy Man United days, and Heurelho Gomes in his fall from grace at Spurs. Simply put the cross bang on the keeper, and it would almost guarantee a goal. When we submitted our feedback of the BETA, we all crossed our fingers that EA would remodel its “improved AI” when it came to goalies. Yes, the corner problem has been solved, but the goalkeeper decision making still leaves a lot to be desired. What we are left with is a superman like, almost unbeatable keeper from outside the box, and a timid mess that quite often dives out the way of the ball inside the area.
However, if you ignore the keeper difficulties. FIFA 15 is a great addition to the EA Sports family. Has that comment surprised you? It might come as a shock because of all the previous negative digs at the game, but I also like a lot of things about FIFA 15. The build-up play and passing, combined with player movement gives us users another level of realism up from FIFA 14. It’s easier to pull off nice 1-2’s especially through midfield and in advanced areas of the pitch, resulting in more flowing attacking moves. Defending is noticeably more difficult than previous years. Even though this can be frustrating when it seems impossible to stop a pace player on a run, it definitely lends itself to more exciting gameplay. I mean who wouldn’t want to be involved in a 6-5 thriller over a boring 0-0 draw? After all, scoring goals is why we all love football in the first place.
Obviously, pace plays a big part in the game, as it has done since FIFA’s conception. But its importance is played down in this year’s edition, with slower but more powerful players closing the gap on their faster colleagues. For example, one of my favourite strikers in Ultimate Team is Huntelaar, even though he only has 64 pace. Yes, he probably isn’t going to outrun any defenders, unless they are Per Mertersacker or Dante. But his strength on the ball allows him to shrug off opposition, whereas someone small and fast, like Theo Walcott, would get outmuscled. Of course you still get players that insist on having pace abusing teams, the amount of times I’ve come up against a front 2 like Ahmed Musa with Seydou Doumbia (both 93 pace) or Victor Ibarbo (91 pace) is unreal. It gets boring. You can have clearly the better team, and often play better for most of the game, and then get caught on the break with an easy through ball to one of the Jamaican sprint team. Once anyone with over 85 pace is 1-on-1 with your keeper, you can forget about chasing him down. And obviously if your opponent goes near post, it’s going to be a goal. That’s the real problem with FIFA 15. It doesn’t reward good tactics and slick build up play. What it does reward, is fast counter attacks with a long punt up field, and a straight footrace which the strikers win 99% of the time.
So, is there a way which you can set up your team to defeat these pace abusers? Well, unfortunately it seems the only method is to fight fire with fire- and get rapid defenders. It seems that fast, strong centre back cards that in real life are pretty average players have turned into absolute beasts with this year’s FIFA defender controls. An example of this is Nedum Onuoha (83 pace). A player who in real life couldn’t just make it at Manchester City, but also struggles to get into the QPR team. An Emile Heskey of CB’s. Yet on FIFA 15, he is first choice for most people’s BPL teams. Cheap, at only 2-3000 coins, he can keep up with most forwards and even knock the majority off the ball. Wing backs are no different. If you want to stop quick wingers, get a pacey left or right back. Kyle Walker at RB (91 pace) and Gael Clichy at LB (85 pace) will make most attacking players useless. It’s a sad but inevitable truth.
In real life football, the best players in the world are all quick (Messi, Ronaldo, Bale, Neymar, Hazard). It seems pace is becoming a more and more important attribute to becoming a successful footballer. Maybe FIFA 15 is more realistic than I thought? In any case, I still love FIFA and will ultimately continue to play it until next year’s version is released, no matter how many holes I pick in it. Maybe I’m a sucker. Maybe EA has me like so many players, right where they want me. Maybe that’s why FIFA is the biggest selling sports franchise ever. And I hope it never changes.