With each new year comes a new soccer (or football, if you prefer) season. With each new season we also get new soccer games. And just like the real-life competitors who train hard to win championships and prove that they are the best in the biz, two franchises constantly wage war against each other in order to see which one rules the soccer field.
Developed by EA Canada / Published by EA
Available on the 3DS, PC, PS3, PS Vita and Xbox 360. Reviewed on the Xbox 360.
*Review copy provided by EA
EA’s FIFA 14 is the latest entry in the long running FIFA series. Does this year’s soccer game bring enough to the table to take down the opposition, or is it trip on its own two feet?
With one quick glance, you can tell that FIFA 13 isn’t drastically different from last year’s offering, only offering minor improvements here and there to help ease the franchise’s transition to next-gen consoles. It’s there on the PS4 and Xbox One that the real changes lie, and unfortunately you’ll have to wait until next month release to check it out. That doesn’t mean that this current-gen release isn’t any good though, because it’s the best FIFA game to date.
Newcomers and veterans alike will feel right at home with FIFA 14. Gameplay is as tight as ever, allowing players to dribble the ball, pass, shoot, defend, tackle, and score with ease, and switch to any player with the touch of a button. Dribbling tricks also make a return, and while they are still somewhat complicated and difficult to get used to (due to the number of stick movements available), once mastered they are great tools to get through defenders.
The only issue I really had with gameplay was with the buffering inputs, because if an action button is pressed before receiving the ball, like the pass for example, the action will play out immediately once you do. This is quite terrible since soccer is a rapid, right-on-the-spot decision-making game where you’ll constantly need to adjust the plan of attack or defense, and this buffering often leads to the player kicking the ball way too early or passing to an opponent or nowhere. It’s very frustrating, but players can get used to it if they keep the fact in mind.
New features specific to FIFA 14 are Teammate Intelligence, which allows A.I. controlled teammates to move around the field more realistically and open up both defensive and offensive plays; Protect the Ball, which causes players who are in front of defenders to open up their arms and impede the opponent to get in and reach for the ball; Precision Movement, which allows players to move at a realistic pace and slowly pick up speed; and tweaks to the ball physics and realistic shots that are influenced by the way the ball is received, angles, and more. Most of these minor improvements are purely aesthetic, but in the end they help create the most natural and realistic soccer game in the market today.
Despite the improvements however, the game isn’t exempt from problems as it still suffers from stuff that has been in display since some of the previous entries. Animations can sometimes be wonky, with players colliding with each other and occasionally creating hilarious and unrealistic accidents thanks to the physics, A.I. can occasionally get stuck in the net or around it, amongst other crazy visuals that you would only find in online glitch reels. These small issues happen less often than what was seen in previous FIFA titles though so it’s all good.
Most of the game modes from previous years make a return to FIFA 14, alongside a couple of new additions and improvements. Players can jump into quick matches, have a career as a manager or player (created or real), engage in training or partake in skill mini-games, and play online against other players around the globe. Ultimate Team is back, allowing players to create their very own dream teams and test them against others, but adds chemistry to the team members, so they can grow and improve each other as they play together. Online unranked single matches are back as well, so playing with another is easy and doesn’t screw up leaderboards. Seasons can also be played online or offline, and if you have a buddy that wants to join you, you can take them in tow with co-op seasons. With all of the new game modes and improvements, you’ll seriously have a lot to do in FIFA 14.
While FIFA 14 is more of the same stuff you’ve been playing for a couple years, it’s still very well-made and is, most importantly, fun. It may also have a couple of goofy glitches here and there, and some annoying input buffering, but at the end of the day it’s the newest version of the soccer game we all know and love. Next month’s next-gen versions may change things up quite a bit, but for now this is the best one yet.