Every year I download the demo of the latest FIFA game, play it for a bit, nod then put it away and wait for the actual game to turn up before I start putting serious hours in. This year, I can't stop playing the demo.
For the first time in a few years, this feels like a fairly new FIFA game. It's far from the drastic overhaul you'd have hoped for given this is the first year there's a market for the PS4/XB1 version, but within the confines of sports games - where even the tiniest change can be made by marketing to seem ground-breaking - there's a lot to appreciate here.
Note that I've been playing on Xbox One (whose demo went live earlier in the week), so some of the smoother/prettier things I mention may not apply if you're soldiering on with an Xbox 360 or PS3.
Here's the good:
- The game feels tighter. The last few years have seen both player and ball movement get a little "floaty", but that's been changed noticeably for FIFA 15, especially when it comes to stuff like crosses and shots.
- One of my biggest problems with FIFA 14 was how it handled throughballs, which are a big part of how I play. Basically, even if there was a mile of green space in front of you and a supporting player breaking through, if a defender was anywhere in front of you a throughball would somehow magically seek him out and break up the play (I know, there are manual options, but ugh). In the FIFA 15 demo, if there's a defender in the way, the player with ball will often slightly "dink" the throughball over the defender's feet. It's a small touch, but one which really opened the game up for me.
- This will only matter if you follow a Premier League team, but the new league-specific presentation looks pretty sweet, and that's only taking the single ground (Anfield) available in the demo into account. The pre-game camera actually sits in the tunnel beneath the famous "THIS IS ANFIELD" banner. Nice touch. Overall the presentation seems vastly improved in other areas as well, especially the new TV-style highlights and pre-game lineup announcements.
And the bad:
- This is a weird OCD issue I might have, something you may never have even noticed, but the distorted font FIFA uses on the back of shirts - in a series that otherwise prides itself on visual accuracy - has always struck me as odd. It's still there, and it still bugs the shit out of me every time the camera pans over a team while they're lining up before a game.
With only one ground and a handful of teams available to play as, there's not much more digging to be done in the demo. But if you haven't got it yet and are interested at all in the series, I'd definitely recommend grabbing the demo and checking it out.