The subtle improvements in gameplay will be noticed and appreciated by Fifa regulars. The matches seem less exploitable, more challenging or realistic, the mechanics are smoother than ever. The animations are only comparable to the NBA 2K series in my opinion, two franchises that offer the most incredibly realist-looking animations. Best of all is the game modes that Fifa 14 offers. We now have proper alternatives to the career mode for the singleplayer, both off and online, and this is topped off with a sterling Fifa Ultimate Team mode. To round off an already extremely thorough package is a worthy co-op mode. Simply put, this is the most I have enjoyed a Fifa game in a long time, and the FUT mode will ensure I play all season long.
Developer: EA Sports
Distributor: Apex Interactive
Reviewed on: Xbox 360
Also available on: PC, Playstation 3, PS Vita, next-gen
If we had to give it a numerical score: 9.5/10
What I liked
- Fifa Ultimate Team!
- Smooth gameplay
- Tricks actually work now
Not so much
- Can’t think of anything really
Gameplay and Features
Let’s get straight to it, the important bits for us diehard footie fans – the gameplay – and let me clear, I play on the second most difficult setting, so I have no idea what Amateur is like. I am a football fanatic and I’ve played at least 90% of all football games ever made.
Fifa has always been entertaining, it had always been flashy, and it has always been fun to play. The problem I always had with the Fifa games through the years is that they always seemed to play out like an exhibition match between two flawless teams. Everything always seemed to go right: the crossing into the box, the striking, and the defending – Fifa, for me was just too easy. EA Sports would add a mechanic, and in no time I would learn how to exploit it. They added the through pass; I would demolish defenses with a one-two passing bit, leaving the defender for dead. The sprint button turned your player into Hussain Bolt, leaving the defense looking like some high-school boys. The striking was a majority of the time spot on. The auto-defend button would get the tackle every time – forget staying in formation, just hold in the auto-defend button with whichever player, and most of the time you’ll get the tackle. Overall the mechanics feel like the previous game, just a little more polished and actually, simplified. The tricks no longer require you to hold the bumper button down as they did, which makes those previous set of tricks easier to pull off.
I have for a long time now always loved PES titles. They were never as pretty as Fifa, quite the contrary really, but they offered a more challenging experience for me. EA Sports have closed that gap considerably in terms of how challenging the gameplay is. Yes, unlike most, I think PES took the lead for a long time in terms of gameplay. Fifa 14 is great in every way the previous Fifa games were, but it’s now proper challenging too. The auto-defend will stay with the man for the most part now, but you actually need to make the tackles now. The striking has become way more difficult – gone are the days where you just needed to push the shoot button. The ball feels heavier, and so you need to either strike hard or you flop the shot. And that’s when you get the chance, the defense is brilliant with Fifa 14’s AI, the sprint button is no longer a ‘super turbo button’, the through balls don’t make the world class defenders look like donkeys racing horses anymore, and so I find myself actually working for it now. Fifa 14 is now a challenge on the more difficult modes, and therefore more realistic, so to us die-hards, it is pure bliss!
The game modes remain similar to that of the previous game: you can play Quick Matches, online matches, the Career Mode where you can play in the various licensed leagues and the Be a Pro mode where you focus on building up your created player. Another major new mode is the co-operative where you and your mates can co-op through online divisions. For me this is a little bit of a mind-warp for now. I am so used to having full control of all the players, and so I battle to settle in with others on my team, making decisions. I do realise that this could be absolutely magical if I could field a team of like-minded players, but for now it’s still a little alien to me.
Where you will find the most advancement is in the popular Fifa Ultimate Team. Let me be clear, I have played just about every sport game produced over the last thirty years, and FUT is simply the best game mode I have plaid in a sport game. It is deeper than ever, this year focusing more on ‘players’ chemistry’ and covers any aspect you could think of, managing a team. The problem with many sport games is that the “career type” modes tend to have a shelf life. Fifa games of old for example, I would play the career modes in a few different leagues, and after a few months it would be more of the same. FUT is so deep, covering all aspects of running a team that you would be interested in, and the progression system is so addictive. Starting off with your run-of-the-mill players, trying best to improve the team chemistry and earning currency to either purchase players on the online trading market or FUT packs which give you a range of upgrades for your team, be it players or aspects you can use in training. I cannot stress enough how impressed I am with this year’s FUT. It’s filled with nice little touches, one such sweet touch, is that you can bid on players from the team you support. My team being Porto, I can bid on players from the team without going through the market and all the processes. To round off this stunning mode is the fact that you can take your team into online matches and tournaments, earning XP or currency that all contributes to you FUT. The FUT mode makes you work for it, rewarding you in small, worthy increments as you work your way up to better players and more success. Best of all is the fact that the team really feels like your baby, as you shape and grow the team. It is this mode that will insure I will play Fifa all season long.
Sound and Visuals
The menus have a Windows 8 sort of look: modern, crisp and easy to navigate. EA Sports have again taken the presentation to a new level. You can watch different celebrations through the menu, catch up on your mates Fifa 14 news, have a look through Fifa 14’s stadiums and much more. Fifa 14 is one of the more attractive looking presentations you will find, putting most sports game to shame in the department.
In terms of player animations, visual effects and the staple visuals, well you’ll be hard-pressed to see a difference from last year’s game. The series has for the longest time now, been as impressive visually as you will find, so I think we will need to wait for next-gen to see more improvements. Make no mistake; Fifa 14 is an absolute visual treat on the current-gen.
Fifa has taken huge strides in the last few years to tweak the gameplay, inching ever closer to a more “realistic” experience. If you haven’t played all the games over the years, for hours on end, you may have even missed the small tweaks and changes in gameplay, little things that often made a world of difference. I do believe the series has now peaked in terms of what is capable in terms of gameplay advancements with the current technology. The end result is slick, entertaining and a game that is such a joy play.
The polished gameplay is not even the headliner for me this year. It is the extremely complete and polished Fifa Ultimate Team mode that makes Fifa 14 so easy for me to recommend.
Read about our ratings here.