EA’s FIFA franchise has a unique task when it comes to the creation of their games, one that doesn’t heavily apply to other sports titles. With the whole world waiting in anticipation to play your product, it is pertinent to have a soccer game that captures the thrill of the sport, the national pride of its players, and the depth of passion that those players and their fans take to every single soccer match around the world. Short of placing gamers in the seats of Camp Nou with scarves in hand, FIFA 14 provides its dedicated fan base with the most intensely authentic sports experience on the market. Once again, FIFA reigns high over the sports gaming world, and is a must-own title for even the most rudimentary of soccer fans.
In addition to the updated physics of the players, Real Ball Physics takes the nuanced movements of the ball in play and delivers a new level of challenge. Many matches are won and lost by the way the ball bounces for one team over another, and now that is just as true on the digital pitch as it always has been on the real one. Particularly impressive is the way foot placement and player agility combine with the new ball physics to provide infinite scenarios for success or failure with striking. Never again will you simply run down the pitch and strike with full power and get a goal. The real-world physics simply won’t allow such nonsense.
As a player, your duties mainly exist in the games themselves, and after a long and storied career, you can choose to take your created player and move him up to the manager position. In the Career Mode, you’ll be playing as a single member of the team (though you can choose to control to entire squad) and that fact has left some players frustrated with the AI of their teammates. In FIFA 14, updated Teammate Intelligence does a great job of eliminating that drag, giving your single player a whole squad of capable passers, scorers, and defenders. Teammate and opponent AI is crisp and situationally suited, and is keenly indicative of a player’s actual overall ratings.
The game looks great, with sleek and easily navigable menus and well thought-out designs for each menu and submenu. The soundtrack is a little underwhelming, but with tracks from Vampire Weekend and Bloc Party there can be little to gripe about. The player models look fantastic and the player-created models in FIFA 14 continue to be the best in the sports game genre. Lastly, over thirty leagues and six hundred clubs are available for play, providing the depth of coverage for each region’s set of teams. Very little is not to be enjoyed about this game.
That’s really the bottom line here, folks. If the game had not been shipped with a broken Practice Arena (and for all I know, it is just my copy) it would be pristine. It’s so close to real that it often becomes frustratingly hard to play, but every sports game fanatic knows that it’s better to be frustrated by realism than by game glitches and broken animations. There is very little to not like about this game. FIFA 14 is a beautiful send-off to the waning current generation of gaming, and a perfect example of what has become the most authentic and entertaining sports game around.