FIFA has been a tried and tested game series over the past decade and a bit, with well over twenty titles to its name. Every year I wait for the next in the series, and every year I’m always more than happy with my purchase, but none so much as this time around.
I played FIFA 14 on the 360 a few times over the months since its release. To be perfectly honest, it was clunky and a little ugly – it was far from the ‘beautiful game’ that we’d come to expect from EA. The passing was atrocious, the shooting was dire on occasion and you got the feeling that the players had no idea of how to play an actual game of football. Thankfully, however, FIFA 14 on the One is almost the complete opposite. The game runs smoothly and flows incredibly well. Passing is accurate (most of the time) and you can pull off some gorgeous one-twos when the play is really flowing. Shooting looks impressive and you can hit some real wonder goals if you have the nads to try them. Overall, the gameplay is second to none. But then, that’s what I would have expected from a next-gen title. Otherwise, what was the point in them re-releasing it on the new console in the first place? What’s that? To make money? Who, EA? … never.
There aren’t any new game modes, other than the co-op seasons, which is a nice addition but can be found in the 360 version as well. The game modes that we do have are brilliant, as always. Career mode has had a welcomed overhaul, mostly in the way that you scout youth players. It gives it a much more authentic feel and really intensifies that feeling of achievement when you stumble across the next big thing. FIFA Ultimate Team is as big (and brilliant) as ever, with much of EA’s time being dedicated to it and its promotion on the FIFA 14 home screen. This is the first year that I’ve ever really got in to FUT and it’s mainly because EA were making me feel left out through not participating. Nearly half of the games achievements are based on FUT and you’re notified almost every other minute whenever something FUT’ey is going down. But, once I’d bitten the bullet and got on with creating and updating my team, I can really see the appeal in this game mode. It’s kind of like they’ve combined the best of FIFA with the best of collecting Pokémon cards, only this time I have to use my own wages to fund my addiction, rather than the bank of Mum and Dad, or the pocket money my grandparents used to give me.
The game mechanics look far superior to the 360 and PS3 versions of the game. The shots look incredibly realistic, the swerve of the ball, the dramatic dips on shots that are characteristic of players like Ronaldo and Bale – all present on the One. Players are also far more intelligent than they ever were on the current-gen consoles. They track players and make smart runs in to space. Their touches of the ball are also much more realistic, allowing for close control and accurate attacks into space. This game plays like an actual football match and, on occasion, you could be forgiven for forgetting that you were playing a game rather than watching one.
The graphics are, as you would assume, incredible. The textures are smooth and vivid and it’s the little details that you really notice. The creases of a player’s shirt as they run, the blades of grass that are torn up with shots or slide tackles, the sweat trickling down a goalkeeper’s brow as he waits for a penalty kick to be struck – these all add to the intensity and realism of the beautiful game, and my is it beautiful! One of my favourite aspects to the next-gen title is the realism of the crowds and the stadiums. You can feel them roar – not just hear them – when you score or win a game. For the first time ever, they’re actually in 3D! Who’d have thought that it would take this long for them to realise that the creepy 2D cardboard cut out fans just wasn’t cutting it anymore. It really helps replicate the atmosphere of a real football match in your living room / bedroom / mother’s basement.
There are other additions to the next-gen title, such as the ability for more than two players to challenge for the same ball in the air and off-ball animations for players collecting the ball when it goes out of play, that are nice little touches. Overall, this is by far the best FIFA yet. You can tell that EA have really laid the foundations for further improvements down the line, so I for one am more than excited for the FIFAs to come. If you had this title on the current-gen consoles, I really stress the need for you to repurchase it for your next-gen console, it is well and truly a completely different game.