EA Canada didn’t have to make sweeping changes to improve FIFA 14 for next-gen systems. It already released a great football game on current-gen consoles earlier this year, and while the PS4 version is largely unchanged, it’s just slightly better enough to push the series ever so slightly into the future. If you want a game that looks and plays drastically different than its PS3 counterpart, you are going to have to wait at least another year. However, if you want a great football game with shiny graphics and boat-loads of animations, look no further than the PS4 version of FIFA 14.
The PS4 version of FIFA 14 carries over all the essentials from the PS3 version, including careers and weekly matches, skill games, and even Ultimate Team. You can even transfer over progress from the PS3 versions to the PS4 version. If you are looking for a more detailed review of FIFA 14 as a whole, check out our original review. Keep reading this review for more about the changes made to the PS4 version.
FIFA fans will immediately notice the improved graphics of the PS4 version. Character models are sharper; though close-up they still have that almost hollow, half-empty look. In replays you’ll see uniforms ripple against players and you’ll even notice the grass looks like actual grass. The 2D crowds of the PS3 version are replaced with full 3D models that react like actual spectators. Sweeping cameras provide an invigorating view of the incredibly detailed stadiums housing the energetic crowds.
This fresh coat of paint shows great potential for the future of FIFA, but it’s still incomplete. Despite the 3D crowd models, they still feel a bit too static. They respond enthusiastically when a home team is doing well and act dead when their club is playing lousy. But there are still opportunities for EA Canada to add layers of a crowd’s reaction to individual players, especially those former club players now competing for the visitor team.
There is also a new flow to matches. When the ball goes out of bounds, the game no longer cuts away. Instead, ball boys run to grab the ball, and toss it to players for a throw-in. Corner and goal kicks also benefit from this new flow as the game is very deliberate about the time it takes to set up free kicks.
All of these tweaks are extremely minor compared to FIFA 14’s new engine on the PS4. Gameplay is smoother than any previous FIFA game, and the depth of new animations makes it even more authentic than the current-gen version. While this plays out in very minor ways on the pitch, you will notice some changes. There are tons of new pass animations. There is finally a through-ball animation, for example. The fight for the ball feels more physical in the PS4 version, as small touches make all the difference. This is all definitely most noticeable in replays. You will see players take those subtle touches to get room around defenders and you’ll get a better sense of which side of the boot your player uses to take a shot. Again, during gameplay, these new animations are subtle enough not to make a huge impact, but it simply adds greater variety and even more realism.
On the defensive side, the new engine makes for a slow, more deliberate exercise. You will truly appreciate the contain button as moving players to make a tackle can feel like maneuvering a boat. Much of this is dictated by player ratings, which have an even greater impact than in previous versions. There is a noticeable awareness to better players, and better defenders are quicker to make adjustments while containing a striker. Again, this is also super subtle, but noticeable enough for veteran players.
The DualShock 4 touchpad button is used to control the goalkeeper. When you press the touchpad, the camera pulls behind the keeper. It is not something you will use that much, but on the off chance you hit it on accident, you simply have to press it again to push the camera back to the action around the ball. Meanwhile, remote play on the Vita works just fine, but it’s definitely not an ideal playing environment. Framerates will drop slightly from time to time, and you’ll have to make do with rear touchpad controls that replace the trigger buttons. While I don’t have a PlayStation Camera, from my review materials it didn’t seem the game integrates it in any way.
The best thing going for FIFA 14 on PS4 is the simple fact it’s a FIFA game. If FIFA is the king of sports games, then the new PS4 version just added another jewel to its crown. I wouldn’t recommend buying a PS4 just for FIFA 14, but if you already have Sony’s new console, FIFA 14 is easily one of the best launch titles. The shiny graphics, new animations, and improved player awareness make this another impressive FIFA game. It is easy to see how FIFA 14 on PS4 is setting the stage for some major improvement to the series in the years to come.