One more sports game to review before the next-generation lands and then we get to do it all over again. Except, next time there will be notable differences in gameplay and visual fidelity.
FIFA is arguably the best franchise in EA Sports’s lineup. The game has consistently improved over the years and with last year’s installment, FIFA 13, the series essentially reached its peak performance for this generation. So, having said that, FIFA 14 obviously isn’t a giant step forward for the series over the spectacular FIFA 13, but just as with other EA Sports releases this year like NHL 14, there’s some subtle changes that will surely carry over to the next-gen release of FIFA 14.
The physics of players and their animations continue to improve and with those improvements comes more realism to a series that’s ripe with it. The funny glitches that Youtubers made videos about due to the player physics in FIFA 12/13 have been, for the most part, dealt with. More physical properties have been added to the soccer ball which determine the trajectory of the ball, how a player strikes the ball and so on. With the continual changes to the physics of these sports games the more realistic they become, and with more realism comes a higher learning curve. While the controls obviously haven’t seen a major overhaul, there are some changes that fans of the series should know about.
New defending controls have been added which helps players retain more possession of the ball if they aren’t as skilled as others, and can also be used for aggression as well. Coming off of NHL 14, the gameplay for FIFA 14 felt quite similar with player size and weight being a deciding factor when out-muscling opponents. The AI on the defending side has also seen an ample improvement and will consistently prove to be a challenge no matter what difficulty you play on. The AI is smart, quick and aggressive on the offensive side, but on the defensive side it’s quite the opposite. A lot of the time your CPU teammates will seem utterly brain-dead and it’s something that I hope to see a remarkable improvement on in the next-gen versions of these sport games.
All of the major game modes seen in previous entries have returned, along with the ever popular Ultimate Team mode. If you didn’t already know, if you create an Ultimate Team on your current generation console it will carry over to the next-gen version of the game if you decide to pick it up along with your next-gen console. Skill Games are probably my favorite edition to the title as they offer some well crafted practice modes that have helped improve my skills in the game.
There’s certainly some kinks that still need to be worked out with the game, especially in the passing department. One touch passes are still not as graceful as you’d hope and, quite simply, when compared to the passing game in the PES series, there’s some work to be done. Dribbling and shooting have been improved quite a bit however, and as I mentioned before, the soccer ball has improved physical properties so scoring goals is all the more exciting when you nail a hard to hit shot with what EA calls the “Pure Shot” system.
Graphically, aside from the added realism, the current-gen version of the game doesn’t look much better than its FIFA 13 counterpart. The animations, lighting and facial tech have seen some improvements, although the cinematic sequences still feel a little robotic. FIFA 14 is still a visually impressive sports game, and with the next console generation right around the corner, we have a lot to look forward to.
The soundtrack and overall sound design is what you would expect from a sports game. It’d be nice if the NHL franchise took a note from the FIFA games and their commentary to mix things up a bit. FIFA does a much better job at making the conversations between the commentators seem less robotic and more like an actual broadcast.
If you haven’t picked up FIFA 14 yet and plan to do so soon, I’d recommend waiting to snatch it up on a next-generation console if you’re looking for a big upgrade from FIFA 13 to 14. As a final entry for the series on current-gen tech, FIFA 14 doesn’t offer much “new”, but subtle changes to the mechanics of the game have helped to solidify FIFA’s spot as the best soccer sim on the market.
(Reviewed on Xbox 360. Review code supplied on behalf of EA Sports. Thanks)
ONLY SINGLE PLAYER SCORE
Story – NA/10
Gameplay/Design – 8.5/10
Visuals – 9/10
Sound – 8.5/10
Lasting Appeal – 9/10
Overall – 9/10
(Not an average)
Platforms: Xbox 360, PS3, PC
Developer: EA Canada
Publisher: EA Sports