For EA Sports, "Madden NFL" likely is its flagship franchise, but the "FIFA" titles generally are the most consistently good each year.
And this year is no different with "FIFA 15," which was released in September for virtually every console and handheld system gaming has to offer. Like "Madden," "FIFA" largely has figured out the formula for soccer games, and justifying the purchase of a new year's edition comes down to how much the tweaks improve the experience.
For "FIFA 15," gameplay was the major focus, and the changes make the experience better, for the most part. Player movement looks and feels more realistic, from the way they change direction to the new animations. Goalkeeper play is improved, too -- once post-release patches are downloaded and installed.
Not all the tweaks work. EA Sports touts new emotions and attitudes toward each teammate on the field that change organically based on the game's events. Perhaps they are changing the way the game plays, but any effect is hard to notice.
Game modes feel the same, for the most part. That's not necessarily a bad thing because Career Mode, Ultimate Team and the other mainstays remain top notch. It's easy to get sucked into the solo modes just as fun to play locally or online with a friend.
It all adds up to another win for one of gaming's premier sports franchises, as "FIFA 15" will be in the running for Sports Game of the Year.