EA Sports always adds improvements to new editions of its football simulation Fifa franchise each year.
This year, with new-generation consoles already in the market for some time, EA Sports is expected to deliver something really exciting with Fifa 15.
But when you boot up the game, everything looks familiar and nothing new grabs your attention.
You have the usual Kick-off or quick match, Career mode and Ultimate Team. In Career mode, you can choose to play a manager or start out as a rookie player before becoming a superstar.
With Ultimate Team, you can trade and swop virtual cards of players and build your own squad to be the ultimate team doing various challenges, such as playing in certain tournaments.
The major changes become apparent only when you enter the actual gameplay. Once again, EA Sports does not disappoint.
The graphics are simply superb, with all the players' faces and the teams' jerseys faithfully reproduced down to the finest detail, with the exact hairstyles and facial hair.
While the fans in the stands looked jagged in earlier versions, the fans now look as good as the players, wearing the right jerseys as they wave and gesture.
The look of the players' jerseys is very realistic. If it is raining, the wet jerseys cling to the players' body. If a defender is tugging at an attacking player's jersey to hold him back, you can see that clearly.
For English Premier League fans, all 20 stadia are authentically replicated. So when your team visits Burnley, you no longer play in some random stadium, but in its home stadium, Turf Moor.
The atmosphere of match day itself is just breathtaking. When you play Liverpool at Anfield, sooner or later, you will hear the club anthem, You'll Never Walk Alone.
And you will see Manchester City fans doing the Pozan celebrations at the Etihad Stadium.
The entire presentation is like watching a live match on TV, with improved commentary from the veteran commentator Martin Tyler and former Arsenal striker Alan Smith. They might sound repetitive after a while, but at least they comment correctly on the action happening on the pitch.
The football pitches are not only immaculately manicured, you can actually see changes occuring on them during the match, with boot marks and sliding tackle trails visible. You can even see blades of grass being whipped up when a player strikes the ball.
Player and ball movements are more realistic than ever, truly obeying the laws of physics. Collision between players no longer look comical. You will not, for instance, see them pass through each other. The ball can move, spin and bobble in any direction, depending on the surface or how it is kicked.
Fifa 15 is also big on emotion. EA Sports claims there are more than 600 new emotions that can be seen on the pitch. All I know is that the players are more animated than ever.
A striker grimaces when he misses a chance to score. A goalkeeper shouts at his defenders for failing to protect him. A player reacts angrily to a bad tackle. Players on the bench react accordingly when a goal is scored or disallowed. Even the linesman offers a wry smile when he flags for offside.
All these new features - emotions, better ball physics and goal-scoring randomness - added together make Fifa 15 the best football simulation game. Again.
This article was first published on Oct 15, 2014.
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