FIFA 14 Review

Dan Webb

Next-gen platform reviews for cross-generational games thus far have been an exercise in copy and pasting the last-gen, tweaking a few paragraphs regarding the graphics, then bosh, job’s a good’un – unless you’re Battlefield 4 in that case, what with it’s 64-player multiplayer and 60 frames per second. FIFA 14 is the true exception to the rule, bringing with it a new engine, shiny new next-gen visuals and a whole new experience for FIFA fans the world over.

EA have made a big hoo-hah over the three pillars of their next-gen Ignite engine in the build up to the console launches, them being human intelligence, true player motions and living worlds; the three of which form the foundation for what makes next-gen FIFA 14 such a great addition to any football fan’s gaming library. It’s not all plain sailing though, as each of them does have its drawbacks.

Eat my goal!

Obviously the most noticeable improvement is the game’s visuals, but not just visuals, as in, “Oh look, that’s a shiny ball!” or, “Oh my, the individual grass strands sway in the wind!” Although that is true, and the players possess a much higher level of visual fidelity now, it’s the overall presentation that really makes a difference.

Now, match days feel like match days, with ball boys collecting balls, managers venting pitch-side, cameras following the on-field action, and the crowd – who are actually character models for the first-time – are much more animated and their reaction more meaningful. The whole thing is choreographed to mirror any major TV broadcaster's football coverage, from camera angles and non-insightful commentator mutterings… but with less of Jamie Redknapp’s stupid haircuts.

Even the crowd chants and custom club songs, which appeared in the current-gen version – albeit almost briefly – are now much more reactive to play. Being Liverpool and having the Anfield faithful sing ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’ as you drive home a piledriver against your Stanley Park neighbours is as satisfying as it gets. The whole ‘creating the match day’ atmosphere malarkey does have its drawbacks as you’ll have to wait for players to get the balls for throw-ins and what not, which although immersive and realistic, is hardly the definition of fun.

Players seem to make more intelligent runs too – well, the better players do – meaning that threading the eye of a needle killer pass is now truly possible, which is a good job as retaining the possession of the ball seems harder than in recent iterations of FIFA gone-by. Pace does lose its appeal as you up the difficulties now when playing against the CPU, but online it can still be a killer, and the referees are almost non-existent at times. That said, it’s now almost impossible to crunch a player with a mistimed challenge. You’re more likely to jostle them off the ball and get what’s coming to you instead. Or not. It’s so unpredictable.

Matrix freeze-frame!

As you can see, it’s not all rainbows and unicorns, and playing on the harder difficulties (which can be brutally unforgiving) highlights some of the game’s shortcomings. FIFA is about couch play and fierce competition against unwitting rivals though, and the new engine provides players with the best FIFA experience that money can buy.

From an animation standpoint, players now seem much more flexible now and when chasing down a ball they are no longer magnetised to it like an X-Factor contestant is to an inevitable future as a Z-list celebrity. They’ll also be more likely to ride tackles too, which is frustrating to say the least. On the one hand it feels like a more physical game, then on the other hand it doesn’t. Don’t get me started on the ball physics as well, which seem like they’ve been tweaked to speed the gameplay up at the expense of realism. Kick a ball the length of the field and watch it almost pick-up speed as it hits the byline.

In terms of actual content, it’s very much the same as the current-gen version. You’ve got your usual Career mode – with the previously named Be A Pro effectively being enveloped by it – Skill Games, Pro Clubs – although the connectivity issues are terrible in this mode – Online and Co-op Seasons, the addictive Ultimate Team – now with added Legends content – and more.

"On me chest, son!"

Harnessing the power of Kinect, players can now perform on-the-fly substitutions, change tactics and more, all without touching a button, which is handy, but having the Xbox One’s Game-DVR record a clip every time my keeper punches a ball out or makes a great save, well, that’s a pain in the bloody ass! Heaven forbid you get to penalties and make a few saves, you’ll want to rip your pubic hair out! The best thing about the next-gen version though? The menus no longer lag – which has been a pet hate of mine for years. Yay! It only took a new console for them to fix that!

So, achievements... Does EA Canada kick the new generation off with a bang? An inspired list? No, don’t be so bloody stupid. Of course they don’t. It’s essentially the same as the 360 version's, which you can't really blame them for, but it would be nice if they'd made sure that everyone was catered for. If you've played the 360 version too, be prepared to delete the odd piece of data to ensure you can get the achievements! Some, for me, anyway, didn't even appear to want to pop, which is frustrating. It’s all a bit odd.

“Probably better off waiting” was the phrase we used in the last-gen FIFA 14 review, and we can wholeheartedly and categorically say now that we were right on the money… or, on the ball, if you must. Next-gen FIFA 14 is a game that every football fan must have, so sod waiting. Jump in right now, the water’s warm.


The crowd sounds incredible – like you’re actually there – but the commentary gets very samey after a while. Plus, it can often sound phoned in. Alan Smith though? Pur-lease, get Gary Neville on the case.

A giant step up in terms of the visual package. Plenty of room to move, but presentation wise, it’s top notch.

It’ll take a bit of adjusting, but once you get used to the nuances of the latest FIFA you’ll have the most satisfying FIFA experience ever.

Great match day atmosphere and the usual modes mean that next-gen FIFA 14 is a great start for the generation. Strong start, interesting to see where the franchise goes from here.

Same as the Xbox 360 version, which wasn't all bad. But issues surrounding 360 progress data – which carries over - means you can't unlock certain achievements unless you erase your old save.

Alan Partridge said it best when he said, “The proof is in the pudding and the pudding in this case is a football.” In other words, FIFA 14 is a bit bloody good. Buy it.

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