Released as a launch title for the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, FIFA 14 is not the type of game that’s going to blow you away at first glance. As a matter of fact it’s only slightly better looking than the current-gen version released back in September. However, once you start playing, the difference is immediate.
First of all the game is really really smooth, not a framerate stutter to be found anywhere. Adding to that, the animations have been greatly enhanced, and taken as a whole they make for a much more lifelike game. Another addition to the next-gen version is something that the FIFA team is calling Living Worlds. Fully 3D home and away supporters, living sidelines, pre-match ceremonies, the works. Combined with the added fluidity of the on-pitch action it makes for an impressive overall package.
On the pitch, the next-gen version retains the soul of current-gen, but the added awareness of the players combined with the fluidity makes for a better all around game. I was especially pleased with the teammate/opponent AI, it’s much better than current-gen, reducing the amount of “awkward moments” down to just about non-existent. Keepers are excellent as well, and scoring never feels cheap. However, some problems do remain. It’s still a bit too easy to waltz through midfield on your way to the final third. Personally, I’d like to see more action there. Keepers will still mess up clearances a bit too much for my liking (allowing for easy chances) and the referees, well, they’re awful. It’s the one aspect of the game that needs the most fixing. Advantage is played at the wrong times, there’s too much pushing and pulling allowed, off the ball players are impeded with regularity and basic fouls are rarely called let alone carded. In my career mode (I play 15 minute halves) there’s an average of 2-3 fouls per game and in 31 matches there’s been just 2 yellow cards and 0 reds combined! Fouls and the free kicks they create are such a huge part of football (not to mention exciting), but sadly that part of the game just doesn’t exist in FIFA 14. Presentation wise, the stadiums, overlays, the camera work, play by play, and cut scenes are all top notch and integrated seamlessly.
Most, not all of the mode we all know and love are here, kick off, Practice Arena, Career mode, Online Seasons, Pro Clubs and the ever popular Ultimate Team. However, missing from the next-gen versions of the game is Tournament mode, dropped because of time constraints and low usage. Basically there’s something here for just about everyone, and it’s integrated well. Whether you’re a die hard Ultimate Team player, Career mode fan or a casual gamer looking to play a quick match with your mates, FIFA 14 has you covered. Personally, I’m a huge fan of Career mode and I do have some thoughts in regards to what works and what needs improving. I could go into great details, but I’ll save that for another article entirely. In short though, the global transfer network is a great addition, the new career mode menus are fantastic and the options available are all solid. On the downside, the CPU’s decision making as far as transfers is a bit curious at times. It’s still too easy to pry away top talent from top clubs, and there’s no way to actually track transfers throughout Europe. Derby matches and cup ties still don’t feel “special”, and you’re experience is still limited to the league you’re currently playing in, making it feel as if you’re playing in a vacuum.
The next-gen version of FIFA 14 is nice leap forward from the current-gen, serving as a great base heading towards the future. Although a few problems do exist, this is still a spectacular title, one worth your time and money.
This is the first of a few “review” articles, giving you a summary of what we think of next-gen FIFA. The articles that follow will look at each section of the game in detail. Next up, career mode.