It’s that time of year again: FIFA demo time. The time that allows you and me to finally play a soon-to-be-released FIFA title in order feel the intricate changes in the controls, gameplay, interface, graphics, animations and even sound from the last iteration. The demo experience can make or break it for many fans, so it’s not just a standard demo. EA will no doubt gain and lose customers over this demo, so it’s only fair that I analyse it. Here we go…
As soon as you boot up the demo, you are suddenly pitted against a semi-pro difficulty Manchester City as Liverpool in the deciding match of the Barclays Premier League. You may remember that FIFA 14’s demo featured an El Clasico match (FC Barcelona vs Real Madrid) in the deciding match of Liga BBVA. Why the change? Is it for the sake of variety?
Nope! If you’ve been keeping up with the promotional trailers put out by EA over ever social media site in existence (yes, even MySpace… probably), you’ll have picked up at least one thing: EA have invested heavily in “the world’s best football league” by forking out for performance capture and facial scanning for the first time in the franchise’s 21-year history. Not only this, but EA have bought the rights to place every Barclay’s Premier League teams’ stadium in the game for the first time ever. This means no more generic stadiums for all the Aston Villa, West Ham, and Sunderland fans (just to name a few) out there. Collectively, this also allows EA to use the official BPL score bug/banner when two BPL teams are playing off against each other.
Now, the important bit: is it noticeable? For the most part, yes. Players still walk awkwardly when leaving and returning to the pitch and facial animations can be seen multiple times in a single match. However, players’ faces are significantly improved, as are the emotions they show. Also, it’s still a surprising feeling when you look up at the score and see the official BPL score bug there; and it really does make you feel like you’re watching a live match that you control.
Riskily, EA have implemented a new team management interface, making it the biggest change to that section in years. Personally, I much prefer the ones used in the past few games, though I can see why it would appeal to the more tactically-minded gamer. The change features a much darker backdrop, a star diagram to show a player’s strengths and weaknesses, and a brand-new, PES-like team layout.
In regard to gameplay, FIFA 15 plays much more fluidly and seems to place more emphasis on well-placed and timed through balls and passes, meaning the ball can go from penalty box to penalty box in matter of a few seconds and touches. Having said that, this doesn’t mean scoring a goal is any easier… quite the opposite, in fact. Performance capture has also been used to map goalkeeper animations and reflexes, meaning no more ridiculous goals caused by your goalie deciding he’d prefer to be a break-dancer at the exact moment the ball leaves Messi’s feet. You now have to finesse, chip, and pass-pass-shoot your way into the back of the net, and it’s all the more rewarding for it.
So, FIFA 15’s just round the corner and, if the demo’s anything to go by, PES doesn’t stand a chance against the world’s most successful sports game series. FIFA: 1 – PES: 0