FIFA 14 will be released next week, while the FIFA 14 Next Gen version won’t be released until mid-to-late November. It may be safe to say that this may be one of the biggest and last current gen sports releases before EA firmly sets its sights on the PS4 and XBox One versions. So after playing with the demo for FIFA 14, will this be worth getting next week or, if you are one of the many getting new systems, should you hold out? After putting some considerable time in over the weekend and trying out all of the teams, here’s what I came away with:
The first thing that many fans of the FIFA series walk away with is that EA finally ditched the menu interface that they have used for the past several years and came out with a new interface similar to what they recently started using with their Madden NFL series.
The new menus are much easier to navigate. One of the things that I do like about the new menu system within the game is the ability to switch tactics on the fly without having to dive into submenus like previous iterations. The only qualm I have with this on the fly change is that I wish there was a way to see what players are in or out of place when you make that tactical change so you would know if you need to make any player moves. Of course being a demo, there are still a lot of other items that are locked, but the new menu system looks promising so far.
EA Sports is still getting better at this and I can only imagine that within the next two years on Next Gen consoles, they may even be able to include a dedicated audio system in the game. But as it is, the audio is still top notch in FIFA 14.
The one noticeable item is there is more chatter from Martin Tyler and Alan Smith at the pre-match opening than there was last year when there was noticeable amount of dead air during team introductions. Also, depending on the team, there is also an insane amount of chatter from them during the game, which at times, repeats so you hear the same things over and over again. There was a rumor that this year’s FIFA game would feature commentary that discussed past results and transfer talk relating to the game being played, and I’m hopeful this comes to fruition.
The crowd noise is slightly better this year because the supporters really react during a match. When I played Manchester City against AC Milan, not only did Mario Balotelli get booed when he got the ball and when he scored, but when Vincent Kompany tackled Balotelli and took the ball from him and then got tackled from behind with no card being issue, the crowd really booed to let their feelings be heard. That is the one thing I always liked about this series. Depending on how well or poorly your team does, the crowd really reacts.
There’s very little change graphically from FIFA 13 to FIFA 14. There have been some small tweaks, but the in-game animations during gameplay are noticeable but nothing in particular is worth noting. I am, however, curious to see what the graphics will look like in the Next Gen version.
Everyone is dying to know whether the Ignite Engine makes a difference or not. Based on what I saw in the FIFA 14 Demo, I believe it does. In nearly all of the games I played, I fought for every shot I made. Not every goal, every shot. I’m not someone who plays on the Legendary level. I play on the Professional level. And after three games, I was mentally exhausted. I can’t play this the same way I played past FIFA games.
Depending on your team, you really need to play a tactical game to work the ball into the box. It’s hard to get off any fast breaks on counters and not all headers are as guaranteed as they were in FIFA 12 and FIFA 13. This game is all about pace. Your games aren’t going to be won by passing the ball and thinking that you can waltz the field. No, the opponent AI can and will shut you down, and harass you for the ball.
EA said they wanted an emphasis on midfield play, and so far it’s working like a charm. Not only that, but your skills will be truly tested. In one game I played between New York Red Bulls and Barcelona, I held my own in the first half, but by the second half it felt like the computer AI adjusted. And with two crucial mistakes I made, Xavi and Messi made me pay dearly. You can’t ping pong the ball around. As soon as a ball is loose, the AI for both sides will zero in on it.
It’s also important to note that a well placed pass will not always be picked up by the player you’re passing to, as sometimes he will or won’t adjust to get the ball — especially if he isn’t a good player with a good first touch.
In FIFA 14, there’s a lot more jostling among players and, overall, it’s a more realistic version of the beautiful game than FIFA 13.
There are still bugs in the demo, which will hopefully be fixed before the game launches next week — when players score, there are glitches where the players run in circles because the AI routine can’t figure out how to make them do their correct celebration. But that doesn’t take away from the game.
FIFA 14 feels like a marginal upgrade to FIFA 13, but I believe that with the improved game AI and new menu, those who can’t wait until the Next Gen version arrives won’t go wrong getting this version prior to its impending release.
The current gen version of FIFA 14 will be out in the US on September 24 and September 27 in the rest of the world.
Pre-order FIFA 14 today so it’ll arrive on your doorstep without having to wait in line.
Will you get FIFA 14, or will you hold out for PES 2014? Share your opinion below.
Editor’s note: Be sure to listen to our brand-new podcast show entitled Press ‘A’ To Shoot, which is a new soccer show dedicated to FIFA, PES, FPL and Football Manager.