Even more Ultimate than before
Ultimate Team is FIFA's breakout feature, and it's better than ever.
Here you buy and sell Panini-style cards with others online to create
dream teams, and if you're an annoying YouTube personality, record
yourself opening packs and gurning like a moron. Like before it's all
about chemistry; place players in their correct positions and next to
compatriots for better performance. Concept Squads are the big new
feature, letting you assemble any players in non-playable practice teams
to test chemistry before you commit to a purchase. You can also loan
world-class players for a few games, too, if you don't want to stump up
the insane fees that the likes of Bale and Robben command.
Granted, this all sounds very annoying and superfluous and distracting, but it's not. Football is more than a game about kicking a ball around, despite what your mum says. It's about the passion and pageantry. FIFA didn't appreciate this before, but it does now. And besides, you can skip everything if you must.
Though yes, you can argue FIFA's improvements are lopsided. Besides a sprinkling of new animations giving extra nuance to shooting and dribbling, matches themselves don't play hugely differently to before. At least FIFA 14's over-pronounced momentum has reduced, meaning players are quicker to start and stop, and physical confrontations feel weightier and dynamic. Even the most fearsome rat king-style tangles of limbs don't show clipping.
There's greater tactical variety, too. You can push men up the field
during goal kicks, crowd the keeper during corners, and even 'park the
bus' during open play, options all accessible from the D-pad. The result
is a pacier game than 14, if not quite as arcade-quick as 13.
The players themselves bring a fair bit of vitality, too, being more lifelike, with over 200 Premier League faces re-scanned. They’re still strangely stylised and not a patch on the pockmarked imperfection of PES' mugs, but at least lesser players now have proper faces. Advancements continue below the neck, giving players better muscle definition--they actually look like athletes. With the Emotion Engine, they act like athletes too. Strikers pout petulantly when they miss shots, and all players point fingers after reckless challenges. But it’s not perfect. During one fumbled chance, my teammate flung his hands to his head and forgot to put them down, even after collecting the ball and dribbling with it.