with Sunny Atwal (idea contributor)
Today’s article was inspired by a good friend who is a big football and wrestling fan. In November 2014, he plans to take two weeks off of work and chill out to the max with two brand new game titles. One is the latest instalment of the highly-respected FIFA football (soccer) series, FIFA 15. Also on his Christmas shopping list is the newest WWE game for PlayStation, WWE 2K15, a game based on the popular World Wrestling Entertainment sports entertainment brand, which has the clearest graphics and involving gameplay yet.
I grew up playing both wrestling and football video games myself. I and my younger brothers are all great football and wrestling fans and we would supplement watching intense battles of the ring and the pitch with battles against each other on our PS2 console. Whether it was Real Madrid against Manchester United on FIFA 2012, finessing our bicycle kick skills on Pro Evolution Soccer, we had the time of our lives in front of the big screen. I still remember my brothers Azzy and Suraj creating wrestlers based on family members on the Smackdown release from probably around 2009 and then setting them up in duels against the Bigshow or Brock Lesnar. Nowadays both Azzy and Suraj regularly tussle for bragging rights on FIFA 14, while my youngest Arjun has found his calling as a football manager with some top names on his team and a very busy inbox thanks to the agents constantly negotiating player transfers with his alter ego, ‘Buju Banton’.
FIFA 15 is published by EA Sports, a subdivision of the Electronic Arts (EA) game developer. A football simulation game, it is in the final stages of development by EA’s Canadian arm and is scheduled for public release on the 23 September 2014 in North America, before being released in mainland Europe on the 25th and in the United Kingdom on the 26th. FIFA 15 will be available for the PlayStation 3 and 4, PlayStation Vita, Xbox One, Xbox 360, Microsoft Windows, IOS and Android. On PC, this game runs on EA’s Ignite engine and boasts the same features as the PS4 and Xbox One editions. The front cover will feature Lionel Messi of FC Barcelona. Posed as though he was charging around the pitch, Mr. Messi has been a hallmark of the game’s cover since FIFA 13, when he replaced Wayne Rooney of Manchester United. There will be regional variations on the covers though, so for example for Swiss fans, Xherdan Shaqiri of that country’s national side will appear alongside Messi. There will also be two versions of the title, the Standard edition and an Ultimate Team edition which will cost fans more but comes with limited edition goodies, both in and outside the game.
According to British tabloid Metro, EA Sports have promised that FIFA 15 will be their most realistic football game yet, with some observers saying that it will revolutionise gameplay for the 21st century completely, although some supporters of the Arsenal football team who have seen pre-released screenshot of their players, Mesut Ozil, Tomas Rosicky and Jack Wilshere on Twitter claim that the appearance of the players on FIFA 15 is far from accurate, with one wag claiming that Ozil resembled a ‘zombie or some kind of monster’. Despite the inevitable complications that come from rendering player’s looks in computer pixels, the pre-release hype for FIFA fans has been kept ablaze with special releases of screenshots, tidbits and rumours about what the game will feature and what exactly the improvements will be. There have been reports that a pre-issue demo of the game is in circulation, with Martin Robinson of Eurogamer claiming as such, according to the Bleacher Report. The Bleacher Report also claims that there are ‘rumblings’ from an organisation called the FIFA U Team that the demo will consist of eight teams, two game modes and will appear on September 9. These rumours are of course, just that and nothing concrete has been confirmed by EA Sports or the licenser FIFA.
According to the developers, FIFA 15 will be the first game of the series to feature ’emotional intelligence’. A new and advanced AI machine means that your players will have their own memories of previous matches and will display emotion based on the outcome of the match. So if Balotelli gets sent off yet again, you will know he won’t look too pleased about it, and if you lift the cup, the players look as happy as you would be if you earned their massive salaries. This is a massive improvement on both previous titles and other rival football gaming titles, as there the players usually are expressionless and game developers were more interested in creating footballers with skills and the package to deliver on the hallowed turf rather than the niceties of a few facial expressions. Each player now possesses over 600 emotional states, responding with gusto to bad tackles, near-misses on goal and the spectacular epic goals. They probably won’t swear at the camera or flip a bird at a red-faced coach but FIFA 15 guarantees to make gameplay almost as convincing as watching a match yourself.
The fans too will be more responsive and realistic, with actual chants and crowd behaviours tailored to each individual team or national side. The game also has advanced bench reactions, side-line character animations, ten-man goal celebrations and more to keep you firmly interested in the progress of the match. Those matches against your friends are about to get that little bit more emotional.
You can create and manage your own teams far more easily. You can customise up to six different team sheets per club and adapt your formations, tactics and star players based on the opponent, which will make FIFA 15 perfect for aspiring managers and those who really look for the finer details in formulating that winning eleven. Goalkeepers have also been upgraded, with fifty new save animations and improved goalsaving AI. Witness breath-stopping and improved save reactions at the last second supplemented with realistic tips and deflections. You will learn to fear this goalie’s fingertips. Outside the goal, team members will react convincingly to changing play, just like real-life players. New team tactics, such as ‘Park the Bus‘ and ‘In The Mixer’ will be some cool team play features on offer in FIFA 15.
The graphics are far more advanced too. Gone are the stiff, wooden and slightly pixelated player of old, and say hello to players with fluid movement and painstaking detail in their appearance and kit. Shadows and shirt creases are reproduced faithfully, which shows that FIFA 15 really does have its eye on the ball…and on the little details. The players will look and feel powerful and athletic, and even the kits will flutter realistically as your strikers charge down towards that quick-as-lightning goalkeeper. Indeed such is the attention to detail, that even small things such as debris on the pitch, skid marks from footballers’ boots, LED advertisement hoardings and the fluttering of corner flags are there in glorious lifelike three dimensions. They have really done their research here.
The players tackle in style, with shirt-pulling and shoulder barges something to contend with when getting that ball off your opponent. Once you have won the ball, prepare to be amazed as your dribbling and touches of boot on ball are more realistic and believable. Footwork, spin and general ball control will have better accuracy and trajectories as the ball is passed on from player to player.
FIFA 15 also introduces the all new ‘Match Day Live’ feature. Powered by authoritative football site Goal.com, fans can keep updated and on the ball with their club’s latest matches, news and action using an internet connection while they make history with their FIFA 15 version. For budding managers, FIFA 15 builds upon the team management capabilities and career mode of last year’s predecessor with new ways to play, manage the squad and decide on transfers to boost up your side.
That other big game for virtual sports fans, WWE 2K15, is also a must-have for the Christmas stocking. Like FIFA 15, the wrestling version also promises to bring fans of sport entertainment a more realistic and relatable configuration of gameplay, as the virtual becomes more like the reality.
WWE 2K15 is being published by 2K Sports, with in-game development by Visual Concepts & Yuke’s – the second title being released from the well-received WWE 2K series. The plans in the works are for this title to be released sometime late October this year on Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, and will be the first WWE game to be released on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. Its North American release is scheduled for October 28, 2014 and in Europe on October 31. The cover features WWE Superstar and king of the invisible John Cena and is also the first to use the new WWE logo, which was introduced at the launch of the WWE Network in February 2014. Unlike Cena, fans will hopefully be able to see this latest WWE video game appearing in their local superstore in only a month’s time.
The game’s designers claim that 2K15 will usher in a new era of WWE video gaming, delivering the experience fans have been searching for generations. It aims to be the most authentic, comprehensive and action-packed WWE video game experience to date. The ‘Next-Gen Superstars’ will have more realistic movements and mannerisms, with improvements to body, attire and facial features of individual wrestlers, resulting in a highly life-like and natural look. There will also be improvements to stage lighting featured in the sets on the game and better all-in-ring sound effects and acoustics.
The roster featured in the game will be one of the most comprehensive I have ever seen in a WWE game, including Hall of Famers, current favourites such as Cena, Bigshow, the Usos, Dolph Ziggler, Batista, Randy Orton and the Undertaker. There also good representations by the WWE Divas, including big names like Brie Bella, Natalya and Summer Rae. Full details of the complete roster will soon be announced on the WWE 2K website. It is believed up to sixty superstars may feature in the game as new modes are dribbled out to fans and gaming media.
Unlike FIFA, a collector’s edition of the game has already been released earlier this month. It features a copy of the game pre-released with special premium packaging, a collectible wrestling promo card signed by Hall of Famer Hulk Hogan, exclusive Funko “Hollywood” Hulk Hogan vinyl figure, an actual piece of the ring canvas from Hogan’s appearance on WWE Raw on March 10, 2014, two playable pre-order launch exclusive Hulk Hogan characters, and two playable pre-order launch exclusive Sting characters. There are only 25,000 collector’s editions being made at the time of release, according to a Wikipedia article dedicated to the game.
The game has been blazing fires underneath the backsides of critics, with many applauding its faithful homage to the dramatism of the WWE’s infamous storylines, the ‘soap opera with stunners’ as giant of the ring The Bigshow once described it. Review Darryn Bonthuys described WWE 2K15 as a game which heralded the entrance into an age of wrestling games that captured both the attitude and nostalgia of sports entertainment, in a way never really touched on before. Even the detail afforded to some wrestler’s beards is astonishing, amazing even the superstars themselves. On a recent scanning for his character in the game, Yes-Man Daniel Bryan said to Sports Illustrated “When I went for my scans, 2K had so much machinery in their studio, it’s like being in the future,”
“I get weirded-out just being around that much technology. I was like, ‘These things won’t give me cancer, right?”
The article by Bonthuys delves deeper into WWE 2K15’s obsession with detail, aided by the better graphics handling of the latest consoles, such as the PS4:
“It’s incredible what they can do now. The detail they capture is amazing. My beard looks perfect in the game. It looks exactly how it does in real life. But they also have small details like the scar on the top of Randy Orton’s head. He has this small little knick, and it’s detailed perfectly. I know when I was playing the game, when I saw the little things like Randy’s scar, when I saw how my beard looked, I was blown away.”
Grappling and other moves are more like what you would expect in a wrestling match than running up and just hitting the analogue stick. The game, despite its many visual and gameplay improvements and tweaks, is still easy for first-time and casual gamers to pick up the skills needed to lift the championship belt, while keeping seasoned gamers and wrestling fans hooked and impressed with the new 2K way of chokeslamming things. The ratio of ring to wrestler sizes is more believable and you can no longer take the easy route out by simply running around the squared circle.
The game will also feature a match history mode, tailored to be just like the bad blood and storylines of the Smackdown and Raw shows as seen on TV. The mode will pick up on past rivalries between superstars and is provisionally being called the ‘2K Showcase’. In comparison to the previous older sibling of the WWE 2K family, the story mode will be similar to WWE 2K14‘s 30 Years of WrestleMania mode in that it focuses on historical events, but will be more like the Attitude Era mode where it focuses on specifics rather than generalities. The two main feuds highlighted in 2K15 are John Cena vs. CM Punk which took place between 2011 and 2013, and the Triple H vs. Shawn Michaels rivalry which began in 2002. Players will be able to relive a total of 33 matches across the feuds, where key historical objectives must be completed in order to progress further in the mode. As with last year’s game, high-quality documentary packages will accompany each rivalry. This emphasis on the nitty-gritty will also make gameplay just that more believable for diehard wrestling fans who want the perfect story of hatred in the locker room. Players will also have access to a self-operated ‘MyCareer’ mode which sees them take on the Lycra mantle of a superstar and gives them the chance to develop his or her career via the Creative Suite and to evolve and take on challenges for title belts. This mode will be exclusive to the XBox One and PS4 versions of WWE 2K15 though.
I can definitely say this about my best friend and I can say this for myself and my games-mad siblings as well. Playing these two games will be an experience that will blow away all the memories I had of previous playing PlayStation and XBox games on the sacred subjects of football and wrestling entertainment. Just the detail and dedication the designers have spent on the graphics and kinetics of the FIFA footballers and WWE wrestlers alone will be mind-blowing. Even though I do not own a games console, and am what nowadays you could convincingly call a ‘casual gamer’, a part-timer in the world of video games, I can appreciate the way these two titles will change my whole viewpoint of gaming for 2015. Just the thought of being able to play and control something that is so very near the real deal is itself a moment I look forward to experiencing. The thrills, the spills, the crossfaces and the cross-kicks. Whether slamming an opponent into the ringside or booting a ball into the net, I think FIFA 15 and WWE 2K15 are the ones to watch for sports games on the PS and others. Let’s hope my brothers have put in their pre-orders.
The official game sites:
Special pre-release gamer’s videos & trailers
“FIFA 15” – Wikipedia/Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/FIFA_15
“FIFA 15 – FEEL THE GAME” – EA SPORTS/Electronic Arts Inc. http://www.easports.com/uk/fifa/features
“You won’t believe how bad Mesut Ozil and these Arsenal stars look on Fifa 15” – Jamie Sanderson, Metro/Associated Newspapers Limited (29 August 2014) http://metro.co.uk/2014/08/29/you-wont-believe-how-bad-mesut-ozil-and-these-arsenal-stars-look-on-fifa-15-4850459/
“FIFA 15: News and Rumors Leading Up to Release Date” – Brian Mazique, Bleacher Report – Video Games/Bleacher Report, Inc. & Turner Broadcasting System, Inc. (29 August 2014) http://bleacherreport.com/articles/2179638-fifa-15-news-and-rumors-leading-up-to-release-date
“WWE 2K15” – Wikipedia/Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/WWE_2K15
“WWE2K15” – WWE2K/Take-Two Interactive Software http://wwe.2k.com/index.php/game-info
WWE 2K15 Roster” – WWE2K/Take-Two Interactive Software http://wwe.2k.com/index.php/roster/2k15
“WWE 2K15 has innovative beard tech” – Darryn Bonthuys, lazygamer.net (29 August 2014) http://www.lazygamer.net/general-news/wwe-2k15-has-innovative-beard-tech/
“WWE 2K15: FIRST HANDS-ON — IGN FIRST” – Vince Ingenito, IGN UK/IGN Entertainment, Inc./Ziff Davis (12 August 2014) http://uk.ign.com/articles/2014/08/12/wwe-2k15-first-hands-on-ign-first
“WWE 2K15: WHAT WE KNOW SO FAR” – Chris Mawson, Power Up Gaming (30 August 2014) http://powerupgaming.co.uk/articles/175-wwe-2k15-what-we-know-so
“FIFA 15” – Wikipedia/Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/FIFA_15
“WWE 2K15” – – Wikipedia/Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/WWE_2K15
“FIFA 15 Gameplay Demo – IGN Live: E3 2014” – IGN, YouTube GB (11 June 2014) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=onvcN0FXk2c
“FIFA 15 | Liverpool vs Chelsea Official Next-Gen Gameplay Demo @ Gamescom 2014 [1080p]” – Kalax03 | FIFA 15 Entertainment!, YouTube GB (15 August 2014) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vU3dKb76sAs
“WWE 2K15: ”A New Era Begins” (Trailer)” – DTreatsGaming, YouTube GB (27 April 2014) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oUtjisau01A
“WWE 2K15 Gameplay Trailer (New Moves,Reversals,Finishers,Animations & More)” – Espacio Ninja, YouTube GB (20 August 2014) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2BoKNR_JMWY