Our Adam often writes posts about EA's FIFA games, but as he's off on holiday this week (sitting in a quiet, dark room, for all I know), I'll have a crack at this one. Hey there, FIfans! (I imagine that's the term.) EA yesterday released a FIFA 15 demo, so we might finally answer the question on all of our lips: have they managed to keep the action lively for the fifteenth game (fifteen! can you imagine?) in their real-time tactical series? I strapped on my leg armour to find out.
If you've played Unreal Tournament's Bombing Run mode, you'll get the basics: two teams are fighting to gain control of a bomb (defused, in this) and launch it into the enemy's goalzone. Except you only have melee attacks. It's made tricker yet by playing from a third-person perspective, and having 11 characters yourself. You only control one at once, switching in real-time (no tactical pause!), while an AI babysits the rest.
Though the bomb is the key to victory, you'll quickly realise that controlling space is paramount. Using your active chap to deny areas and block enemies, narrowing their paths and options, gets you further than nipping at their ankles. Speaking of, a little violence is permitted, but curiously little. It's tricky but awfully interesting. I was only disappointed I couldn't control all 11 men at once.
The demo has six factions: Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City, Bor. Dortmund, Napoli, PSG, FC Barcelona, and Boca Juniors. Though each sportsman looks different-ish, they play about the same, with no unique skills (beyond the bombwarder) or customisable gear. If you do want stats, though, the demo has a slice of its Ultimate Team mode, a squad-building collectible card game sort of thing.
It's curious that FIFA 15's graphical detail goes down to even individual blades of grass when the terrain is simply a flat field--why not some interesting obstacles? (Maybe there's something to say for the simplicity.) The well-modelled crowds could be more involved too, perhaps as a neutral third faction both sides would vie for control of.
The cinematics are ludicrous, wedging in narrative nonsense. Each match has a long intro filled with lore and guff, and the final cutscene is downright absurd. The defeated crumpled to the floor, while victorious players leapt around hugging each other and even erected a miniature stage to spray confetti from cannons and award themselves a trophy. These are skippable, at least.
Having played only one or two of the 14 earlier FIFA games, I couldn't reasonably judge 15 as part of a series. However, if you enjoy real-time tactical action, I'd say maybe give it a look.
You'll find the demo on Origin. I had problems with downloading, as it kept pausing for reasons unknown and I'd need to resume it manually. Sometimes it refused to resume. Mysteries.