FIFA 14 Review
There is nothing like scoring the first goal in the match, or any goal thereafter. The thrill from swerving in between opponents, keeping the ball in check and winding up for that kick, the ball soaring between the goalies arms and into the net. The cheers that come afterwards are not only from your AI teammates and the crowd in-game but also from you as controllers are raised into the air and feet leave the ground.
FIFA 14 captures the essence of these moments perfectly, matches are intense back and forth battles to score and keep the ball under your team’s control. EA knows what they are doing when it comes to sports games, this much is known, but to see how far the FIFA series has come is incredible. FIFA 14 includes some amazing new features not seen in the series before, we will go into more detail on those in a bit though.
You start off FIFA 14 like you would any soccer (football) game, choosing your game mode, of which there are plenty of choices. I opted to begin my career as a player, creating my own character to my specifications and then joining my dream team. I didn’t last long on my team however as I was traded out pretty quickly, but that is fine, it gave me time to learn the game and its controls all over again. A Player Career has you following one character instead of an entire team, while you still can play as the entire team, it is more manageable to control just your own character and his/her actions.
Those who like to control the entire thing however can opt for a Manager Career, where you control the daily comings and goings of an entire soccer team. Everything from hiring recruiters to scour the world for new players to hiring said players and paying them for their game winning experience. This was a little too much like Football Manager for me as I prefer being in the thick of it, as said before there really is nothing like scoring a goal after many failed attempts.
EA has included a bevy of new features to keep the game realistic, these include the ability to protect the ball while it is under your control, skill moves, and knock on controls. Protecting the ball is probably the most useful new features as you will be constantly under attack by the opposite team, keeping it between your feet will be detrimental to scoring, of course. Knock on is another useful new feature as you can move the ball from side to side, keeping it further from the reach of encroaching players feet. These new features are something that fit perfectly within the game and give it a sense of realism as actual players would use these methods on a daily basis.
It wouldn’t be a sports game without some type of multiplayer mode or co-op to beat your friends at and shove it in their faces for some time. FIFA 14 includes various modes for this, including Co-op Seasons Mode, Match Day Online, and more. You could jump right into a multiplayer match if you wish to just get a quick game in before work.
I spent the majority of my time with FIFA 14 in some type of multiplayer mode, usually a quick match against another player. I lost…a lot. It seems other players around the world are just incredible at the game, that or I am worse than I thought I was. Whilst the AI has been stepped up this time around, they don’t hold a candle to another person with a controller in their hand.
Speaking of AI, EA has gone through quite a bit of trouble to improve their AI on the field, and it shows through greatly. Your teammates are much smarter this time around and some even seem to have their own personalities and preferences. I had one player who always went up the same side until he was alongside the opposite goal before taking a shot. He was always too close and missed every single attempt though, this left me shouting for my team to not pass to him, but they couldn’t hear me or chose not to listen.
The AI has the ability to outsmart its opponents now as well, and this doesn’t just include other AI. I am quite ashamed to say they outsmarted me more than once, I tracked them and tried to take the ball but at the last-minute they swerved away and ran in the opposite direction or lobbed the ball down field away from my oncoming grasp. This is brilliant.
The amount of teams available for a gamer to choose from is staggering. There are multiple countries, all of which have multiple teams and leagues. There is something for everyone. It will take a little bit of searching when you first start up the game, but eventually you will find your team. Those who do not have a soccer team to support can easily find one that suits them, this will take a bit more experimentation and play time, but it will be worth it.
FIFA 14 controls like a dream. I never had issues with my player running the wrong way or not responding to my commands. Everything was fluid and easily done. Controlling the ball came as easily as moving without the ball. The only thing hindering your movement in FIFA 14 will be the other players trying to stop you.
It may take some time to learn all of the controls, especially the various types of passing and shooting. They are all mapped to different triggers on the controller. Shooting tended to be the most difficult, not a control issue however. It was more of the player, you, calculating when to shoot and how hard to fire that ball at the goalie; it’s all about timing.
The sound of a roaring crowd and the soft thump of a soccer ball being booted down field are enough to send anyone into a state of euphoria, soccer fans at least. The crowd can come off as generic, as most sports games crowds do, but not in a bad way. The real shining stars in FIFA 14 are the announcers. Real life announcers have given their time to EA to give a sense of realism to the game, and it shows.
FIFA 14 is a brilliant addition to the long-running soccer franchise. The updates and new features shine through. The experience will stay with you long after the end of the match has finished and the winner has been announced. Stories will be told to your friends, or wins shoved in their faces. While no sports game is for everyone, FIFA 14 will find a home amongst fans of the series and of the sport.
A Huge Thanks To EA For The Review Copy