FIFA 14 Review: A different game, for the better
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FIFA finally feels different. The pace on the pitch is slower and more deliberate, but greater player control makes for some exciting and realistic football.
- Improved player control
- Pace on pitch feels authentic
- Welcome control tweaks
- Presentation and graphics need an overhaul
- Some game modes need a refresher
- Hit or miss menus
Skill moves are no longer tied to the left trigger button. Instead, all skill moves are tied to your right analog stick. Good dribblers can pull off better moves more consistently while stronger players are better at holding back opponents by trapping the ball away from other players. This is pulled off now by holding your left trigger, which turns whoever you control into a mad man obsessed with grabbing or holding the ball. These two tweaks to controls are a no-brainer. It is hard to think it took EA Sports this long to make these changes, but it's better late than never. A simple spin of your analog stick sends agile players to step over the ball, maybe take a quick touch with their back foot, or roll sideways. If the gameplay in general has slowed down a bit, this new control on the ball gives you just enough time to pull of some great moves and open up some space for a pass.
Passes in FIFA 14 are also different. Though some may be frustrated that through balls have a harder time threading defenders, more hardcore fans will rejoice that it finally feels more authentic. It is tough, on any difficulty setting, to pull off a careless through ball. You are forced in FIFA 14 to be a smart player and you won't get away with a little tap of X to pull off a difficult pass.
As mentioned earlier, FIFA 14 is edging ever closer to true sports simulation. This feels much closer to real-life football than last year's installment, and part of that has to do with the intelligence of the A.I. Most of the time, your teammates will offer appropriate support, making runs to the goal or finding space on the wings.
While there are serious differences in gameplay, the graphics and game modes haven't seen the same substantial overhaul. In particular, the graphics look no different than last year's installment. It's a good looking game, but fans are definitely anxious to see FIFA make its way to next gen consoles. The animations are great, and the wonky engine in previous years is refined so you won't see many goofy player collisions. But there are still little things like overly pixilated crowds and players reacting the same way to a goal, like graceful synchronized swimmers. These are all changes we hope to see when EA has more time with its next gen version in the coming years.