The world's most widely played and watched sport, soccer has a massive fan base on every corner of the globe. It's no surprise then that EA's FIFA games sell in their millions; their newest game, FIFA 14 is being released on both the current gen consoles (Xbox 360 and PS3) as well as the next gen (Xbox one, PS4). FIFA 14 focuses on online play, and building up your own dream team to challenge your friends with while maintaining its local game appeal.
Play FIFA, Earn Players
FIFA 14 has many of the features of its predecessor, FIFA 13, there is a career mode where you pick your team and try to steer them to glory; the more success you have the more you can build your players to be more talented and there is also a global transfer network where you can buy and sell players using coins, earned through play. You can send out scouts to determine which players you might want to buy but the accuracy of this information is entirely dependent on the skill of your own scouting network, something else you can develop.
As with previous versions of FIFA, however the most popularly played ultimate team mode remains with a couple of tweaks. With ultimate team you begin with a squad you create, customising strips and the name. You start off with a fairly meagre side but you do face equally poor competition. As you play you earn coins for doing good things, scoring goals, winning matches etc, and with coins you can buy new players for your ultimate team. The best players cost vast quantities of coins, so it can be a real time commitment to create the team you really want. FIFA 14 has removed old formation and morale cards and brought back single games against your friends so that you can challenge who you like to a match with your ultimate team, another new nifty touch is that you can search for ‘similar' players in the transfer market.
More Midfield Play and not so End to End
It was said that the previous incarnation of FIFA caused a lot of problems, not only with bugs here and there but that a strong team could be readily beaten through connection to a long ball with ease. This meant that, once realised, midfield play between two players never really got into full swing as balls would simply be pumped up and down the pitch. FIFA 14 addresses this by slowing down the game and making defenders quicker to respond to strikers running through. Players on the ball also appear much slower and harder to turn than before, meaning that build up and passing play are crucial to winning. This forcing the game to be played in the midfield is somewhat of a double edged sword however as this slower pace and difficulty to thread balls through can be infuriating as well as make the game much harder to play against a competitive AI.
The Good news is that there have been a lot of bug issues addressed in FIFA 14 and many of the problems in FIFA 13 have been sorted. The bad news is that other, slightly different bugs have arrived on the new version. Some entertaining like two players colliding then flying away from each other like fireworks, others simply irritating like having to substitute a player in some cases so the game realises the match is over. It has to be said that bugs are found in many games and when you have complicated scripting of many models such as in FIFA Games, these sorts of troubles are to be expected (and aren't massively affective of gameplay).
Graphically on the 360 the game looks good, albeit quite similar to FIFA 13, it is said that to get the real benefit the game and features the next gen consoles is the way to go. FIFA 14 takes advantage of the added power to improve substantially graphically and even adds a couple of things feature wise, although nothing critical to gameplay.
Still the Great Game it was Last Year
FIFA 14 then holds the appeal it has with it's past games, offering great football sim to all who want to play them. If keeping up to date with your clubs roster is important to you then it's a must buy and to EA's credit it does feel like they have taken on board some ideas from last year and implemented them. That being said if I got my mother to play both 13 and 14 I doubt very much she would be able to tell the difference.