FIFA 14 (PS3) Review
It’s fall. It’s a year ending with a number. Time for FIFA.
In the past week Republic of Ireland lost against Germany. England qualified and World Cup fever has begun with the countdowns to Brazil pasted all over the news. So it’s that perfect time of the year again to release a new FIFA game.
The yearly football franchise everyone knows and loves is back. FIFA 14 updates the rosters and adds new features to an already polished product. It doesn’t reinvent the wheel, or the ball it just removed what didn’t work and tries a few new tweaks. For anyone new to football games the basic idea is pick a ground (location), pick the two teams and play. It couldn’t be simpler. In more detail though there are a number of game modes among them the career, a practice mode with skill games, seasons, pro clubs, ultimate team and multiplayer features applicable. Ultimate Team has the gamer use and upgrade a single team of players. Seasons has full seasons of football playable alone or online. Skill games is about performing tricks on the field and learning ball control by knocking down boxes and running through obstacle courses. No matter the flavor selected the basics remain the same with playing football the ultimate result no matter the selection which is the reason anyone would’ve bought the title.
The AI is solid for both friendly players and the enemy side but while they do what they’re told there’s the small feeling to anyone watching closely that they are reactive and not proactive. Waiting for the gamer to make their move before the rest of the field makes theirs. In some ways it’s a comfort being able to have a moment to think before running over and trying to steal the ball and more casual players would like the brief second of pause. The controls are accurate with easy ball control making passing a doddle for experienced hands. It may take some time for new users to get to grips at a level that makes it so what they want to happen actually does but the basic options to pass or tackle just need that simple button press and the right placement.
Post release FIFA has had a few updates and bug fixes so there may be some remaining issues yet to be resolved with the multiplayer.
If we have to state the negatives it’s time to start with the commentary. The announcers sound right but their comments are repeated way too often during extended gameplay periods and frequently they seem to be a few minutes behind the action on their opinions. For anyone playing the game it’s easy to ignore and focus on playing but for those walking in and out of the room wanting to participate as a spectator like most family members do having disjointed action and commentary is a turn-off.
The graphics have some give and take about them. Pitches are represented well enough to work as the background not the focus with the positive being player shadows from stadium lighting. It wouldn’t pass the quality needed for the coming console generation but as a final farewell on PS3 or 360 it could be forgiven for a lack of upgrade on a yearly release. How it looks in PS4 or the also coming Xbox One version is yet to be seen. Well known players are highly detailed so when there are those zoom in moments you can see their faces and recognize them to a reasonable extent but a large majority of the players have generic haircuts and looks with just their names to distinguish between them. The standard side of the pitch view used for 90% of the match works perfectly well and anyone used to watching football would be accustomed to it. The downside is with this view the character models make the players all look like matchstick men with an eating disorder. Thin would be an understatement and those arguments about catwalk models being unrealistically skinny these days come to mind.
Football fans buying a football game just want to have a good kick about and FIFA 14 is the premier (no pun intended) football title. Anyone who’s a fan of the sport that doesn’t own FIFA should pick it up. To those who own last years games there are some advances that make it worth considering if you’re a heavy user but there will be a transition period to new ways of doing things that won’t feel normal which has heavy Marmite moment potential. For the rest who rely on an older version of FIFA this version isn’t a game changer but a worthy update especially if your version is no longer online enabled due to age. If you’re willing to look past some graphics issues FIFA 14 is a solid release for this season.