We’ve already reviewed one of the two football titles this year with PES 2014 and now it’s FIFA’s turn to go under the microscope to see what EA Sports has to bring us this year.
Immediately I have some problems; you see, normally with a sports game the main things we review are gameplay, graphics, modes, realism, online and longevity. But with FIFA 14, while the game modes make quite an impressive list, we’ve seen it all before.
Sports titles are the very definition of ‘cut and paste’ games. It’s the nature of the genre really – every year the teams change shirts, shift around some players and a few teams move up and down the leagues, which means a new game gets released. The general rule of thumb for your average sports fan is to grab every second year of your favourite title so as to get the best value for money. Is 2013 the year you should be refreshing your FIFA?
What’s changed since last year? Well, according to EA Sports, FIFA 14 has a brand new engine powering it called the Ignite Engine. However, that’s only for the upcoming PlayStation 4 and Xbox One versions. The Xbox 360, PC and PS3 versions are still using the older Impact engine which should immediately be setting off alarm bells.
Despite using last year’s engine I found the gameplay mechanics to be a vastly improved experience. The ability to run with the ball, dribble, shoot and tackle all felt remarkably improved. I’m particularly glad sliding tackle no longer results in a red card every time you miss it but at the same time has been toned down so that it’s not your ‘go to’ tackle.
Shooting feels nicely refined and I felt like I had a lot more control over my shots rather than just giving the game an idea of where I wanted them to place the ball. I’m still pretty useless at dribbling, but the difference between attempting a dribble with Suarez compared to Gerrard compared to Henderson is obvious with each player having their own unique style that replicates what we see on TV every week. All in all I’d say the gameplay is a massive improvement over last year with your range of passing and shooting appearing far more dynamic and fluid.
Outside the football gameplay, the transfer system has been beefed up with more in depth scouting that now uses descriptive words like pacy and prolific to describe players, while doing away with an overall total so you can focus more on their individual stats. The ability to assign specific scouts to certain areas to look for players is also enhanced, but to be totally honest I simply received too much feedback from the scouts to really pay attention to what they were saying. This part of the game is definitely for the connoisseurs, while the average Joe will be happy with simply playing through the standard career mode.
If you are online fan, you’ll be happy to know the extremely popular seasons mode is back. Here, you are matched up against other players across the world who are of a similar ability to yourself. As you move up through the leagues you will face stiffer and stiffer competition; you’ll never be left in a league where you are being thrashed while the game will still always be a challenge.
The way FIFA handles online leagues is very clever – you play against teams the same level as yourself, and you are required to win a set amount of games in the league to be promoted. If you don’t manage to score enough points in a set amount of games you get relegated. It feels natural and you quite quickly progress to your acceptable league, after which point progress becomes far more difficult and you will really need to put in the effort to improve your game.
Ultimate Team is back and the addicts are already hard at work putting together their dream teams to take over the world. Honestly, I’m not interested in Ultimate Team, so I am not the best placed to tell you whether this is an improvement over previous versions.
The graphics have also been given an overhaul and it is now easier than ever to not only spot the face, but also the general movement of your favourite players, as well as enjoy the thrill of playing in all the replica stadiums of the top teams in the world.
In the end the game is a good improvement over what we received with FIFA 13. If, like me, you are a fan of the beautiful game, you are going to want to pick this one up. That is unless you are planning on getting a next gen console this year. If so, then wait. You would rather play it with the new engine and better graphical experience.
FIFA 14 was reviewed by Gavin Mannion on a Xbox 360