Wednesday, December 4, 2013

FIFA 14 Review


The ultimate soccer experience is back and better than ever. It's another year and Electronic Arts are back with one of the biggest franchises in gaming history. I reckon it must get hard for the developers to continually innovate after so many years on the same generation of consoles. FIFA 13 was a standout that brought Attacking Intelligence, First Touch Control, Player Impact Engine and Tactical Free Kicks to the sport for the very first time. This is more about fine tuning and calibrating to make a game that is still fun and accessible for both the lifelong player and first time adopters of the FIFA franchise.

Presentation

When you are making the same game every year on a platform that stays the same you are eventually going to hit a graphical peak. FIFA 13 was a beautiful game with excellent player models and detail in all faces when up close animations are shown. This years game isn't a big improvement on last years title, in fact you could put the improvements at minimal. A few players look more like their real world counterparts, but overall it looks just like last year. This isn't a bad thing though, FIFA 13 was one of the prettiest games around and still is to this date.


The main improvements come in the physics engine and a refinement in the reactions of players. In the past couple of years, players wouldn't follow a set animation in collisions and instead the speed, angle and force of those involved was taken into account. Often you would find a tangling of players bodies or glitches causing unnatural movements that would slightly detract from the overall game. The majority of these are gone and the players react more like their real world counterparts. A few more options have been put into the game like the ability for players to dive to keep the ball in, all minimal changes that just nudge the game a bit closer to the real thing. Overall its the prettiest and most glitch free FIFA yet.

Audio in FIFA 14 follows the same level of improvement that past titles have had. The commentators as always have a huge set of conversational pieces to talk about and react perfectly to whats happening in the game. There are a few new pieces added in, but essentially the same high standard has been maintained. The crowd sound great and a loud roar when you score the winning goal in overtime never gets old.

Gameplay

This years addition to the franchise has a host of key features that merely refine and enhance what we had previously instead of completing rewriting the book. New features include precision movement, pure shot, real ball physics, protect the ball, teammate intelligence, sprint dribble turns and dribble touches. A new addition to FIFA Ultimate Mode for this year is also the incorporation of legends to be placed in your side. A nice touch of nostalgia which has worked a treat in other titles such as the NBA 2K series.


Making the players act like their real like counterparts has been a focus area for EA for this years edition of the game. This is where the new features precision movement, pure shot and shot/dribble physics come into play. Players now feel more athletic, more explosive and have the motion we expect of a world class athlete. I found the game to be an all round faster experience with fast breaks and outbursts of speed a welcome experience. Playing against friends who focus on precision passing can now be taken on with a gutsy burst of speed to take the ball away and manoeuvre your way to goal. I liked this faster paced action and it brought a new level of excitement to what has been called a boring sport.

The ball now reacts better than ever to how it is kicked. Off balanced shots and rushed shots at goal aren't going to produce results anywhere near as clean as a well timed shot. Players are smarter with their positioning and this doesn't just mean the AI. Your own player will position his body in the best possible spot to have clean contact with the ball, just as they would in real life. Messi isn't going to take an ill advised shot if he can adjust his position to improve his chances, and neither will you anymore. Dribbling and passing is now refined so you have better control and less predictability with the top players. The reward for effort is a positive instead of a stupid mistake occurring even when you have performed a seamless move.


I absolutely love, I repeat LOVE what they have done with the menus. For once, I am not dumbfounded about how to find what I want. In a Windows-esque tile formation everything is now easy to find in collections of menus that actually make sense. All your favourite modes have returned with slight variations to career mode in particular. A new hub makes it an easier process and gets you into the action faster. It is all about being cleaner, and smarter which correlates nicely with the position on the field.

Conclusion

FIFA 14 isn't a game changer, but it definitely an improvement all round compared to FIFA 13. A little tweak here and a minor adjustment there have gone a long way to making sure FIFA stays head and shoulders above the competition. This is the most realistic and authentic soccer experience to date. Sure, some players won't like the faster paced action that is generally defined by the Pro Evolution Soccer series. But those who can master control of both the ball and the player will benefit from the fluidity in their game. Those failing to cope will be left behind, but this is where the skill games come in to give us a tutorial of sorts that will actually do more than teach the basics, actually enhancing your skill level. Millions of players worldwide online and the return of all the modes you love will make this an irresistible package.

Graphics - 9/10 
Sound - 9/10 
Gameplay - 8.5/10 
Overall - 8.5/10

2 comments:

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