FIFA 14 Review: A Mixed Revolution

A revolution in soccer gaming has arrived. The next installment of EA’s FIFA has been finally released after months of anticipation. While new additions usually bring even more strikers to the analog sticks, this season’s improvements may be more of hinderance.

With “FIFA 14” comes the release of the new system that EA has been developing for two years, Precision Movement. The new gameplay element offers a more real-life feel to the game, with dynamic movement of players that imitates actual player physics. The player’s momentum effecting sprinting, turning and shooting, the game feels clumsy. The awkward turning and slowing down is more lifelike, but the degree of difficulty that it takes to control the direction of the sprint makes for tougher gameplay. Tackles are now more of a pain to complete because the defender has to slow down to turn and stick his foot out. Somebody like Per Mertesacker, who is tall and clumsy already, feels like a struggle to just get him to turn.

The adaptation of player physics has given stronger players more pull. Mertesacker can now shove a puny forward off the ball- if he can catch him of course. The biggest improvement to gameplay is the new AI. Your teammates are no longer statues in front of the defensive line, something that players of FIFA’s past have come to be accustomed to. The pacey wingers, the likes of Theo Walcott and Jesus Navas, now make runs behind the defenders. A sprint between the full back and center back and a solid though pass now leads to real life scoring runs. The acceleration factor of the before mentioned wingers allows them to cut into the open space more often just like in real life.

For those slower, more box to box midfielders with cannons for legs, you were not forgotten. The 35-yard bomb that we saw Giovanni Van Bronckhorst hit for the Dutch during the last world cup can now be a gaming reality with Real Ball Physics. The ball can now dip; rise and swerve with the distance shots that legends like Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard are known for scoring throughout their careers.

Speaking of legends, they finally make an appearance in FIFA. The likes of Pele, Maldini and 38 others available in FIFA Ultimate Team game mode. FUT also gets an upgrade with improved player chemistry, player loyalty and expanded season mode. You can select each player’s chemistry to improve their performance, but be careful to not mess with the overall team chemistry. Those you get from packs are now loyal to you, increasing their value to your team, while those you buy in the market have to play 10 games to finally trust you as their coach.

The best improvement to “FIFA 14” is the new transfer market and scouting network in career mode. You can now to hire scouts, that work year-round and not just during transfer window. Set up your six scouts in different countries and give the instruction on what you want. Whether you want a promising midfielder or a defensive defender, the scouts will find it for you. A feature was less hyped up is the ability to negotiate contracts at their expiration to get the player to join you team at the start of the next season and not right away. This is a good way to boost your team up while only sacrificing weekly wages.

“FIFA 14” is still lacking one major addition, that some of the other EA franchises have adopted already, creativity outside of game play. Some of the more hardcore fans of soccer in general would like to see personalization of fans and stadiums. FIFA could borrow the idea from its sister franchise Madden and actually make fans looks like fans and stadiums glow in their own history and uniqueness. But for now, gamers will have to be content with trying to score the 40-yard goal or carving up the backline with through balls.

In spite of a few hiccups, “FIFA 14” makes a strong contention to be the best soccer game ever created.It’s a blast to play; either you are carving up your opponent online or progressing through career mode, you are hooked on it. With the new game play features it will take time to readjust, but if you enjoy career mode, the new transfers will keep you scouting for the next big star for seasons. So gamers and fans grab your controllers and let the FIFA madness begin.

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