There can be a divide between ‘FIFA the core game’ and ‘FIFA the wider experience’. What looks like football doesn’t always feel like football, and crafting a playable product from the world’s most beloved sport is more complex than making sure Neymar’s nose hairs are accurate. This year FIFA 15 pulls off a difficult trick. Not only is the game closer to a TV-style broadcast than ever, but the experience is better than FIFA’s been in years.
The presentation’s been completely revamped, affecting everything from fully remodelled players, to authentic camera angles, to bouncy hair physics and turf degradation. The best stuff is reserved for the English proportion of the game because, well, we kinda invented football. For the first time, all 20 Barclay’s Premier League stadia are faithfully represented, from West Ham’s Boleyn Ground to Leicester City’s King Power Stadium. Preceding clashes you’ll see a birdseye view, before the camera dips down for some stadium-specific shots. In Liverpool’s ground, for instance, the camera cuts to the iconic Anfield sign in the tunnel.
Onto the pitch, screen furniture now bears the Premier League’s official glossy blue and white stylings. Extra care has been given to team sheets, over which commentators Martin Tyler and Alan Smith recite the line-ups in frighteningly realistic detail. “Today Àngel Rangel partners with Ashley Williams in defense,” Tyler says of Swansea City’s roster in an increasingly tired croak.
During games, new replays stand out. Blaze a shot wide and you’re treated to a super-slow-mo replay of your player’s disappointed little face; goalkeepers who’ve kept their side in it are slooowly patted on the back. It looks astonishingly authentic – and thank the footballing gods that no longer do floating cameras mysteriously emerge onto the pitch from unknown origin to document celebrations.