Reviewing FIFA has become like a birthday for me, it is a stark reminder of how quickly the years go by but it’s fun because you get cake. Well a brand new game is kind of like cake… So its another year and yet another FIFA. What can you expect this year? This year, without a doubt, FIFA 14 is the most realistic FIFA yet.
The overall presentation of FIFA has improved with the slick new menus providing a much needed new veneer to the game. The interface has had a full overhaul that will take some time to get used to, but once you do they deliver a much more efficient experience. The home screen adjusts to feature your most commonly used game modes and the career screens have moved away from the super annoying email switching.
The sound has also been tweaked, while you will find the usual commentary during matches they have now introduced a match introduction voice over to bump up the big game broadcast feel. One of the things I noticed straight away was the solid sounding thud of the ball hitting the crossbar, something that has not really been around in previous FIFA titles but adds quite significantly to the perceived power of the shot.
When it comes to the graphics I was quite disappointed. I guess its a combination of ageing current gen consoles and EA’s passion for improving gameplay that left FIFA 14 looking very much like it’s predecessor. The character models seemed to have improved but the crowds are still woefully short of where they should be in this day and age. Maybe this is something we will see in the PS4/Xbox One editions, but more than likely only in FIFA 15.
The heart and soul of any sports game. This is where the biggest changes have been made, FIFA 14’s gameplay is unbelievably realistic. If you pick up and play a game you will immediately notice the changes. Players have more mass and momentum limiting their ability to change direction. The ball isn’t stuck to your players feet and feels far more organic. In short the game feels real, the fight for possession across the field is an ongoing battle, with every conflict determined by multiple factors that brings a sense of unpredictability to the game. It’s much more Stoke VS Sunderland than Barcelona VS Real Madrid.
Some of this does result in some very annoying fouls that should result in penalties or free kicks that aren’t given – however in general it is an improvement over FIFA 13 with the correct decisions being made more often.
One major improvement that needs to be highlighted is the shooting. EA have made a lot of noise about the new ball physics and with good reason. The ball now dips, swirls and curves realistically in the air resulting in far more variation and delivering exciting new goals every time.
FIFA has now built up a really great selection of game modes that provide something for everyone and gives the game serious longevity. FIFA is still one of the only games that I play all the way up until a new release in a years time. Here are some of the major changes (for more check out the FIFA 14 website)
- Ultimate Team Overhaul
- Online single matches, expanded Seasons, deeper management experience
- Co-op seasons
- Now you can pair up with 2v2 online matches
- Career Mode Improvements
- New Global Transfer Network changes the way you search for new talent.
- Streamlined Career hub brings everything into one place and cuts down on the annoying emails.
- Full new set of skill games will put your skills to the test.
One of the things that is missing is a tutorial mode. Sure the skill games are there to help you hone the various skills, but the 5 min intro videos that explain defensive tactics, skill moves and advanced techniques have disappeared. This is a pity as the changes the EA team has made to these more advances aspects are significant and make them much more accessible and useful – if you can find a way to figure them out yourself.
FIFA 14 was developed by EA Sports and published by Electronic Arts. Our review is based on the Xbox 360 version.