Football Crazy, Soccer Mad
Is it really Fifa time again this year? It seems that only yesterday fans of Pro Evolution Soccer were getting more confident that their game of choice was catching up to Fifa in the 2013 edition of their rivalry, with developer EA seeming to opt for more refinement than drastic change and Konami ensuring that Pro Evolution Soccer 2013 underwent some more noticeable changes to its gameplay. I'm tired of the constant bickering between the Fifa and Pro Evo lot, however, and refuse to acknowledge the pettiness any longer in any of my reviews. Instead, football fans should simply rejoice in the knowledge that they are happy with their choice of game, but have Fifa fans chosen rightly this year around? After all, it appears that Fifa is losing momentum by the month and that Pro Evolution Soccer is gaining lost ground like it is nobody's business, so how does Fifa always seem to edge out its competitor in spite of what seems like a refusal from EA to make any drastic and far-reaching changes?
Tinkers and Tweaks
At the core of it, Fifa 14 is pretty much the same game as its predecessor but with some minor changes implemented in order to justify the outrageous price tag for what is essentially the same game with a more polished aesthetic and some minor modifications here and there. The ball physics have undergone some minor modifications to make the ball's response to external force more realistic, with the path of the ball in the air being noticeably shallow regardless of the shot you play. Moves with the right-hand trigger can now be performed without holding down the left in order to make performing skills easier. The act of shooting has also been improved in terms of the range of shots available depending on the situation, with contextual skills like a dipping volley to some impressive swerve shots in various positions on the pitch, allowing you to bend it in the style of whichever player is particularly good at applying swerve to the ball at this moment in time (Beckham's era is over as I understand it).
Release Date: 24/09/2013
Available on: PS Vita, PSP, PS2, Xbox One, Xbox 360, Wii, Nintendo Wii U, Nintendo 3DS, PS4, PS3, Windows, PC
IGN Video Review
Play the Game
It is the new precision movement system which has changed the pace of the gameplay this year. The emphasis has most definitely shifted towards contextual skills where your actions must change depending on the circumstances as opposed to having free reign on the pitch and doing whatever pleases you the most and simply getting away with it. Successful shots or quality passes now depend on how quickly you can stop and your balance at the time of shooting, with turn-and-shoot moves being more difficult in a very noticeable way. This does mean that in spite of the increased level of precision required and therefore the increased difficulty, you actually feel genuinely delighted at the sense of accomplishment from pulling off a tricky move.
I have friends that are less than happy with the noticeable change of pace in the game, and others that couldn't be more pleased with it (though these are the kind of people that eat up anything that EA gives them, year after year, Fifa after Fifa), but one aspect that unites everyone is the Ultimate Team. Maintaining the trading-card style it has possessed year after year, the Ultimate Team keeps Fifa fans playing the game from the moment of its release to the very second that its successor drops into the market. Cards packs are acquired, players are revealed, consumables are consumed, and everyone has a jolly good time regardless of the changes (or in this case, the lack of) made this time around.
So, how has Fifa managed to trump its PES rival once again? Nothing truly noteworthy has changed from its predecessor after all, aside from obvious aesthetic improvements, some AI tweaks, and some new systems like pure shot making things marginally better than last year. The problem is that there aren't enough genuinely impressive features to actually justify an entirely separate release since the marginal changes from 2013 to 2014 are more akin to the changes in an expansion pack than a separate game that carries the price tag of such. It's still an extremely good example of football simulation and still the best on the market, but EA better step up next year or even the most loyal of fans are likely to grow tired of the snail's-pace development of their favourite game.
Play the Game
Fifa 2014 is developed by EA.