FIFA 15 PC Demo Impressions

 

I’ve put a few hours into the PC demo of FIFA 15 this afternoon, which as well as being a fairly pleasant way to spend time at work means I can now tell you what I think of this first Ignite Engine powered effort on our platform of choice.

Let’s start with something simple: the graphics options. There pretty much aren’t any. I mean, okay, there are a few, you can (just about) see them in the screenshot below, but they’re the same as the ones for FIFA 14. You’ve got some basic resolution stuff, a high/low rendering option, some MSAA and an optional frame-rate lock.

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Maybe I was expected too much of FIFA 15, but I thought the engine change and the increased PC spec demands might result in a couple more tweaks. The chance to go back to the weird 2D crowd instead of the newer 3D-ish one on slower machines, maybe. Or better anti-aliasing for those who can apply it. I don’t know. Just something that would acknowledge the PC as a scalable platform.

Perhaps the final version will have a few more options to check. Probably not, though.

But alright, that’s not a huge thing. If you have a semi-serious gaming PC from the past half decade or so, you’ll probably be fine with FIFA 15. In all honesty the all-singing, all-dancing Ignite Engine doesn’t make the game look a whole lot different from the PC version of 14. Except, to my delight, the facial expressions are sometimes even weirder, which we’ll come back to in a moment.

First let’s talk performance. With the frame-rate locked at 60 (unchecking it was just mayhem on my 60hz monitor) there were occasional odd stutters. There’s no reason to suspect that should be happening on my machine (i3-2100 / 8GB RAM / 2GB 7870, for reference) but I do recall this occurring with FIFA 14 after either a patch or an AMD driver update.

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Using the ever-handy Radeon Pro tool sorted that out last time, but replicating my profile for the FIFA 15 demo didn’t fix the issue. Given more time (or the full game) I’d probably fiddle about with it more, but since this is just a demo and might not represent final performance I’m happy enough to just put up with a frame-judder or two.

Weirdly, replays, free kick situations and penalty shoot-outs all reverted back to 30fps with the “lock at 60fps” option employed. When unchecked, they all play at 60. That’s hopefully just a demo oversight, because otherwise it’s a bit of a perplexing decision. In FIFA 14, locking the fps to 60 gave you penalties at 60fps. As you’d expect.

Assuming they can get things like that ironed out, FIFA 15 is otherwise feeling quite fluid. Players don’t turn like trucks any more and dribbling offers a degree of close control that just never seemed to be there in FIFA 14. There’s still an input delay to certain actions because FIFA has to play its little animations, but they’re feeling less intrusive than the last effort.

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Long passes seem a bit more cultured now, less an “up and under” hoof and more of a drifted pass out to the wings (or wherever,) which feels nice. Heading also feels different in a way that even a couple of hours of play haven’t really helped me define. I think I’m winning more headers in the box, but they’re either harder to get on target (no bad thing, this was infamously easy in FIFA 14) or jostling defenders are having more of an influence. Ibrahimovic still wins everything in the air though. It’s the power of his ponytail. Also his massive height and strength.

There are some nice extra touches at corners, including the option to switch to a player receiving the set-piece and call for a pass/harass an unfortunate defender. Plus the chance to set little corner instructions like “hey you, attack the near post.” Mind you, the old “hold LB and power up two bars while aiming kinda in the center” corner routine still works as a fall back for some easy goals.

I also scored a particularly bizarre headed goal for Napoli where my player was sort of on his knees and contorting his neck. Poor old Simon Mignolet was so confused and distraught he just allowed it to loop into the top corner.

Speaking of goalkeepers, they have a lot more save animations in their repertoire this time around. This is attractive to watch, but has resulted in a couple (hopefully just demo-based) glitches where the keeper has got all confused about which type of low, gathering save he’s supposed to be making and had a brief mental breakdown while the ball bobbles away at an odd angle. A bit like this, basically. I find those kind of FIFA physics bugs pretty hilarious, but I can see how that may frustrate during a crucial match.

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Only sustained online play (not possible here) will be able to ascertain whether the lofted through-ball is still the all powerful route to cheap glory. I’m cautiously optimistic that it might be at least slightly harder to score that way in FIFA 15, but I’ve already witnessed a recurrence of one old annoyance. The classic case of an incredibly fast striker running on to a low through ball but deciding to have a bit of a breather to let the AI defenders catch up a bit for no particular reason.

Conversely, there’s finally a way to tweak a player’s position on the pitch mid-match through the substitution menu (you just select who you fancy and drag them somewhere new.) The substitution interface is a bit more painless all round, really. This is a good thing.

Martin Tyler and Alan Smith’s commentary is the usual stuff that you’ll probably switch off after about a day. I’m already fairly tired of hearing about how Cavani used to play for Napoli in a three-pronged attack. Or about how Higuain scored against Belgium in the World Cup. Guys. I know. Stop telling me.

I’m also keeping my fingers crossed for a future option to switch off the animated advertising hoardings, because just like real life they’re about as welcome as a bee sting up your urethra.

The new 3D crowd looks alright from a distance but can appear to be doing some sort of co-ordinated flag-less semaphore when viewed up close. Players, meanwhile, can sometimes look like horrifying creatures of nightmare. Which is great. Obviously. Have a look at this NeoGaf sourced compilation of terror to see what I mean.

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Jesus.

As well as offering that to look forward to, FIFA 15 seems to be slightly exceeding the minimum standard required of an annual sports sequel. Overall player control is certainly preferable to last year’s release, and the tweaked approach to things like corners and substitutions are welcome. I’m not entirely sure how much credit the Ignite Engine can take for things besides the (not especially amazing) 3D crowd and (maybe) more lively goalkeepers, but there’s enough here to suggest the game has improved.

Playing FIFA 14 afterwards felt a bit clunky and awkward, so the demo has at least done its job to convince me that, even though the differences aren’t monumental, it would be just that little bit too difficult to go back.

Ludicrous Ratings EA Sports Need To Fix: Luke Shaw

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When FIFA 14 hit store shelves nearly 12 months ago, Luke Shaw had just begun to emerge as a regular first-team performer at Southampton. And so his rating of a paltry 72 was perhaps justified at the time. However, in the year that has passed, the left-back has gone on to become one of the most promising stars of the game.

Still only 19, Shaw excelled for the Saints in 2013-14 with his performances earning him a place in England manager Roy Hodgson’s 23-man World Cup squad and a £30 million move to Manchester United earlier this summer. And so his rating of 72 no longer looks very reasonable at all.

The teenager is surely due an upgrade in FIFA 15 to recognise his status as one of the country’s brightest young talents and we’d personally recommend an increase to around the 78 margin. It isn’t often EA hand such sharp point increases to players, however, we feel Shaw is worth making an exception for given that he is now playing for one of the world’s biggest football clubs.

The man who wants to make lacrosse a FIFA beater

“Lacrosse is the sickest sport ever.” Carlo Sunseri is being neither cute nor ironic. His enthusiasm is uncomplicated. “It’s down to the finesse of the game,” he says. “The speed, the stick-work, the physicality: lacrosse inspires passion.” Sunseri, who fell in love with lacrosse in high school and played to top college league level, is not merely passionate about the sport: he is evangelical. During his final year at the Robert Morris University in Pittsburgh he founded a video game company with a single purpose: to create lacrosse-based video games that could compete with EA’s flagship sports series in terms of quality and attention to detail.

Since 2009 Sunseri has independently released no fewer than ten lacrosse titles. Most, such as those he made with the endorsement of the National Lacrosse League have been realistic in approach. Others, such as the iOS game Laxy Bro, a lacrosse-themed Flappy Bird clone, are more flippant. But Sunseri’s puppy-esque energy and fervour is not without a business case, even if he has been unable to convince any major video game publisher to help develop the games. Last month his latest project, Lacrosse 15, was funded on Indiegogo for close to $150,000, more than double its goal. There is, it turns out, a paying audience to support his vision.

Lacrosse is older than football (on both sides of the Atlantic). The sport, in which two teams of ten players pass a ball using a lacrosse stick (a pole of varying lengths with a netted pouch fixed to the top end) and attempt to heft it into the opponent’s goal was reputedly originated by Native Americans almost a thousand years ago. By the 17th century lacrosse was widely played across America. For a time the sport featured in the Olympics. And yet it remains a niche interest compared to the younger team games played around the world. Some even poke fun. Perhaps it’s the word itself, both Gallic and feminine in its formation. Or maybe it’s the fact that, on the field, lacrosse appears less physical than American Football, less plainly elegant than soccer, less brutal than hockey (whose unadorned sticks seem somehow more honest), and more complicated than all of the above.

These are, Sunseri insists, prejudices founded on ignorance. “Lacrosse has all the best attributes of other sports games: the hitting of American football, the stick work of hockey, the passing of soccer, and the up and down action of basketball,” he says. “It also translates extremely well to a video game.” So well, in fact, that Sunseri believes that his game could prove instrumental in helping to popularise lacrosse. “Lacrosse is the fastest growing sport in the US,” he says. “It’s at a tipping point to go mainstream. I believe the video game will help to get lacrosse sticks into more people’s hands. Look at what EA’s FIFA did for the sport of soccer in the U.S. – That’s what I want our video games to do for lacrosse.

Sunseri grew up in Mt. Lebanon, a small suburb of Pittsburgh during the early 1990s. He played America football and lacrosse through high school, but eventually dropped the former in order to more fully focus on lacrosse. Simultaneously he was fostering an interest in computers. “Our family got a desktop computer just when the internet was becoming popular,” he says. “I spent tons of time on it researching video games, lacrosse, and how to start a business.” Suneri’s interests came together naturally. “I’d always dreamed of playing an awesome lacrosse video game that was the quality of Madden Sports,” he says. “Even when we were playing the original PlayStation, I wondered why no one, EA in particular, had ever made a simulation lacrosse video game. It wasn’t until college that I really thought about the possibility of making a video game when Microsoft announced XNA and the Indie Game Channel.”

At college Sunseri studied sports management and, during the second year of his course wrote a business plan and design document and approached a small developer in the UK to see if they might partner with him on a lacrosse game. “I still remember the first web chat I had with the team and thinking this has to be a dream,” he says. “I put together my ideas for an ideal lacrosse video game and every day for months, I would wake up and help design, market, and playtest a game that I had always wanted to play.”

10 Highest-Rated Premier League Players Leaked–Vincent Kompany

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Manchester City won the Premier League title last season so it’s only right that they are rumoured to dominate the top 10 Premier League players list with the English champions boasting FOUR players here – according to the leaks, anyway. One of those is Vincent Kompany. Not only is he the best centre-back in England’s topflight, but he’s also the best Premiership centre-back on FIFA 15.

Kompany was part of a City defence that kept the second-best defensive record in the Premier League last season with the Belgian international keeping 14 clean sheets as his side conceded just 37 times. Only Chelsea (27) let in fewer while Kompany captained his side to their second league win in three seasons.

As such, the defender sees a slightly-glacial increase in rating in ’15, moving up one place from last year’s prequel to 87. Again, this is a fairly accurate representation considering Kompany is the best centre-half in the Premier League, and we won’t see any other EPL player in his position outscore him on FIFA 15.

5 key aspects that will decide the war: Online mode

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Konami has introduced a new mode to the already present Master League mode. The Master League has been redesigned and made into MyClub which is similar to that of FIFA’s Ultimate Team. The MyClub is available both in the online and offline game. As per sources, it is said that a new agent will be present to negotiate the transfers and to solve problems within your team. If a new coach is bought, the team goes as per his tactics.

EA has replied to Konami’s feature by enhancing the Ultimate Team on FIFA 15. Some of the features like concept squads allows you to build a very strong squads for the future by letting you plan on whom to buy for the next transfer market, and also testing out the Chemistry combination between the players. Additionaly, a new section called Friendly season which allows you to battle it out with your friends in a fan favourite season format that also lets you check your stats. More number of legends on the Xbox version of the game and the ability to loan big players add to the Ultimate Team features.

The PS4-selling in America for seven months

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For the first time in history, Sony has managed to sell more than Xbox PlayStation in America, which is headquartered Microsoft.

According to data from the NPD Group, in July we spent the gamers spent $ 514 million (383 million euros) in games, consoles and peripherals, 16% more than the $ 443 million in 2013 Despite the crisis the games are not significantly affected.

Consoles spent $ 198.9 million, double last year, which makes sense since it had not been released PS4 and Xbox One, and 178.2 million in games, 15% less than last year.

As for the sales of the Top 10 games as follows:

1. The Last of Us (PS4, PS3)

2. Minecraft (360, PS3)

3. FIFA 14 (360, PS4, Xbox One, PS3, Vita)

4. Watch Dogs (PS4, 360, PS3, Xbox One, PC)

5. Mario Kart 8 (Wii U)

6. Call of Duty: Ghosts (Xbox One, 360, PS4, PS3, Wii U, PC)

7. Grand Theft Auto V (360, PS3)

8. Sniper Elite III (PS4, Xbox One, 360, PS3)

9. NBA 2K14 (360, PS3, PS4, Xbox One, PC)

10. Lego Marvel Super Heroes (360, PS3, 3DS, DS, PS4, Wii U, Xbox One, Vita, PC)

The Sony confirmed that the PS4 sold in America more than the Xbox One in July. As for the 10 million sales, Microsoft and Nintendo refuse to give official figures. However, the Wii U has sold 60% more for the first few months of 2014 compared to 2013 In this played an important role in Mario Kart 8.

Read the detailed review of Gamescom 2014, which includes links for press conferences of Sony and Microsoft as he recorded the GameWorld with live update.

10 Leaked Arsenal Player Ratings — Jack Wilshere – 82 (FIFA 14 – 82)

 

1Jack Wilshere’s career has stagnated somewhat ever since he suffered a stress fracture ankle injury which would force him to miss the entire 2011/12 season. The 22-year-old had an adequate 2013/14 season at the Emirates but didn’t play well enough to warrant an upgrade of his rating of 82 in FIFA 14. The leaked information suggest that Wilshere’s rating has remained the same in FIFA 15 which is believable.

The graduate of Arsenal’s youth academy has always been a footballer who holds nothing back, playing with a fire and passion which makes him a fan-favourite at the Emirates. This attitude means that Wilshere is willing to put his body on the line, leading to many injuries. Just when he was finding his form in the 2013/14 season, Wilshere was ruled out for over six weeks after suffering a hairline fracture on his left foot, further adding to Arsenal’s injury woes.

He may not have done enough to warrant an upgrade but he certainly proved himself to be worthy of an 82 overall rating. Wilshere exhibited all of the movement, vision and passing skills which made him such a hot prospect back in the 2010/11 season.

FIFA 15 Strives for Realism, But Rights Issues Result in Missing Brazilian Teams

With FIFA 15, EA Sports continues to strive for realism, what with its shirt-pulling and heaving chests. But something it won’t be able to create a realistic virtual representation of are the domestic Brazilian soccer leagues.

In a post on the EA Sports blog, the developer announced it would not be including Brazil’s domestic leagues and their players in its latest game. This is said to be the result of “some changes in the ways players are licensed,” which the company did not detail. It did leave the door open for these leagues and players to return in the future, stating, “[W]e continue to keep the lines of communication open with the Brazilian rights holders.”

Even if future negotiations go nowhere, it doesn’t mean fans of Brazilian soccer players are completely out of luck. EA Sports has retained the rights for the Brazil National Team (the company scored only six goals on the team in the process) and Brazilian players who play in other leagues around the world. This means you’ll still have the opportunity to play as Neymar and company in FIFA 15.

FIFA 15 is scheduled for release on September 23 in North America and September 26 in Europe. Argentina’s Lionel Messi is the worldwide cover star, while the North American version also features Clint Dempsey. In recent weeks, EA Sports has been showing the myriad ways in which FIFA 15 is its most realistic soccer game yet, thanks to features like visible breathing and player-specific movement.

FIFA should take World Cup away from Russia

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Vladimir Putin has mastered the art of multitasking. Sure, strong-arming the Russian media, organizing an army with nuclear capabilities, and signing documents that strip a neighbouring nation of its sovereignty keep Russia’s president pretty busy, but he’s still found the time to begin preparations for the 2018 FIFA World Cup.

Having spent a record-breaking $50 billion on the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics (a mere $30 billion over his initial budget), Putin now plans to drop an additional $20 billion on the world’s largest and most prestigious soccer tournament.

But with civil unrest at a boiling point, commercial and military airplanes falling from the sky, and over 50,000 Ukrainians displaced from their homes, should Russia even be allowed to host the World Cup?

Concerns about terrorism and political instability dominated headlines in the days and months leading up to the 2014 Winter Games. An athletic boycott was discussed but never actualized, while many powerful world leaders (U.S. President Obama included) refused to attend the Opening Ceremony as an act of political protest.

It didn’t do much good. Shortly after the last of the medals were awarded, Putin sent his troops into Crimea to annex the Ukrainian peninsula. In March, he signed a decree that would “officially” make Crimea part of Russia. Of course, Ukraine has a very different perspective on the illegal occupation of its country. The whole thing is an absolute nightmare.

With Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 reportedly shot down by pro-Russia separatists on July 17, followed by two Ukrainian fighter jets shot out of the sky by pro-Russia rebels less than a week later, Putin clearly doesn’t have any interest in keeping the peace. On the other hand, he has an avid interest in recapturing the attention of the sporting world and shining the spotlight back on the Motherland.

FIFA’s decision to give Russia World Cup in the first place has been under scrutiny since the announcement was made in 2010.

FIFA’s selection process has long been fraught with controversy. In 1938, after promising to alternate between continents, soccer’s world governing body selected France over other South American bids, despite the fact that Italy hosted in 1934. As a result, Argentina and Uruguay boycotted the tournament. With Qatar selected to host the 2022 World Cup amidst scandal and bribery allegations, FIFA has done nothing to improve its reputation in more recent years.

So why not take the World Cup away from Russia and put it into the hands of a country that isn’t at the forefront of international violence and human rights violations? FIFA has the power to make the change. They are simply choosing not to. Because, evidently, the event will be a “powerful catalyst for constructive dialogue between people and governments, helping to bring positive social developments.”

Right. The rest of the world isn’t falling for it. According to UK Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, Russia should be ousted because the move would represent “a very potent political and symbolic sanction.”

Responding to the MH17 plane crash, German politician Peter Bueth stated that without full Russia cooperation with the investigation, “the soccer World Cup in Russia in 2018 is unimaginable.”

Dan Coats, a republican senator from Indiana suggested “that a more deserving World Cup 2018 bid should be reconsidered instead.” He followed up with an unsettling question: “Does this not remind us of what happened with Hitler in the early ‘20s and ‘30s?”

Greg Dyke, president of the English Football Association, went so far as to liken FIFA President Sepp Blatter and his committee to Kim Jong-Un and North Korea.

Contrary to FIFA’s assertion that the World Cup “can achieve positive change,” the event has a funny way of disguising the host country’s problems with camera flashes, celebrity appearances, and the feel-good nature of athletic competition.

It allowed audiences to forget (or at least be distracted from) the poverty and corruption in Brazil and the lingering post-apartheid racial tensions in South Africa. But, unsurprisingly, problems that exist beforehand remain long after the World Cup is gone.

Taking the event away from Russia would be an unprecedented move. It would send a message to future bidders that a nation must adhere to FIFA’s Code of Ethics and defend “the dignity or integrity of [every] country, private person, or group of people” if it wants to host the event.

Future hosts should further note that FIFA won’t stand for any spectator “violence towards persons or objects, letting off incendiary devices, throwing missiles, [or] displaying insulting or political slogans in any form.”

But when the pitch becomes international borders and the offences occur on a massive scale, the host country can get away with all of the above.

Is Mexico Midfielder Hector Herrera an Alternative to Sami Khedira for Arsenal?

Hector Herrera’s brilliant performance at the 2014 World Cup put him on the radar of several clubs. But, would he leave Porto? Could he be a good fit for Arsenal’s midfield?

The Gunners have been linked with Sami Khedira for weeks, and now La Sexta (via Ben Burrows from the Mirror) has added fuel to the fire by reporting that the Germany international seeks €9 million per year to seal the deal, which is down from his earlier demands, according to Burrows.

Still, if this doesn’t happen, Arsenal could very well take a look at Herrera, who has been one of Mexico’s most promising footballers for the past couple of years.

It all started in 2012, when he was named Most Valuable Player of the Toulon tournament. Then, during the summer, he helped El Tri secure the gold medal at the London Olympics.

He eventually signed with Porto, and during the 2013-14 season, he appeared 17 times in the Portuguese league, where he scored three goals. He also tallied three in the UEFA Champions League and six in the Europa League.

His transition from the Mexico U23 to the senior team wasn’t a walk in the park. However, under the command of Miguel Herrera (not related), he found his best form to date.

The midfielder has a lot of vision and creativity. He can feed balls to the wingers and forwards easily, becoming a key component of the attacking line.

During Brazil 2014, Herrera’s average pass accuracy was 82 percent. He made 10 key passes and had one assist, as per Squawka.

Herrera also put two balls in the crossbar; the first one versus Brazil and the other one against Croatia. His dribbling skills and fine touch are two skills that always come in handy to unbalance the rivals’ defense.

His endurance in the defense was also sharp. FIFA.com reported that he recovered 17 balls.

On the other hand, Khedira played five matches, one as sub. He created five opportunities, including four key passes and one assist.

In the defensive front, the Real Madrid midfielder made one mistake, which led to an attempt at goal, as per Squawka, and recovered 12 balls, according to FIFA.com.

It is true that Khedira has more experience than Herrera, but the Mexican has shown that at age 24, he is capable of a lot.

He would be a great investment. Not only is he younger, but he has a lot of raw talent. Porto set his buyout clause at €40 million, which could make it hard for Arsenal to take their chances on a transfer, but the Mexican is worth it.

He is the kind of midfielder who can lay on the right flank or in the center of the pitch with the same success.

Right now the Gunners need someone who can link their star-studded defensive and offensive lines, which Herrera has accomplished with Porto and El Tri.

Martinez the deal sealer, says Besic

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Everton signing Muhamed Besic said manager Roberto Martinez was key to his transfer to Goodison Park.

Midfielder Besic, 21, rose to prominence at the FIFA World Cup in Brazil, as he represented Bosnia-Herzegovina in their maiden finals appearance.

Besic moves to Everton from Hungarian side Ferencvaros, and the 12-time Bosnia international said his decision to join the Merseyside outfit was largely thanks to Spanish boss Martinez.

“The most important reason why I signed for Everton was Roberto Martinez – I think he is a fantastic coach,” Besic told evertontv.

“I know Everton is a really traditional club and the supporters are fantastic here. I think it is the biggest step for me after leaving Hungary.”

Besic’s first assignment at the World Cup was keeping a check on three-time Ballon d’Or winner and eventual Golden Ball holder Lionel Messi.

And the German-born Besic said he felt his performance in the fixture against eventual finalists Argentina in Rio de Janeiro – a fixture Bosnia lost 2-1 – thrust his name into the headlights.

“I think my style is suited to playing in the Premier League and I think this is the best league in the world,” he said.

“It will be difficult for me because we have fantastic players but I think, with the help of the coach, I will do my best.

“The World Cup was really important and I think the most important game for me was the Argentina game. I think I did a good job and many clubs were looking, including Mr Martinez.

“I can play anywhere [in defence or midfield] but I think I will play as a central midfielder for Everton.

“I enjoy playing in midfield because I get to see a lot of the ball and I think it is my best position.”

Besic joined Everton on a five-year deal, for a reported transfer fee of £4million.