If you live in North America, FIFA 14 is available in stores and online today (and later this week in Europe). Not surprisingly, many soccer fans are excited about what may be the final iteration in this current generation’s version before the Next Gen consoles monopolize the industry.
I won’t re-hash everything that I said about the demo. Everything holds up in the final release of FIFA 14. To be fair, your miles will vary greatly depending on if you liked the last two iterations or if you are looking for a completely new take on the game. If you want something new, either try PES 2014 or wait for the next-gen consoles and take your chances. Otherwise FIFA 14 is still a solid game.
What makes FIFA 14 a solid and better game this year is what’s under the hood — particularly in Career Mode where I spend a lot of my time playing. Most of my friends who I talked to this weekend about the game either play online or in Career mode and they were excited about the small changes:
Stat tweaking is more realistic
One of the best aspects of playing FIFA 14 is watching your players’ form improve or worsen as the season progresses. We saw this last year with the Career Mode for your created player but now this transfers over to the entire gaming world. If your left back’s stats at the beginning of the season equaled a 79 and he gets a few good games under his belt, it’s possible to look and see that he has a 79+2 as his overall stat. In other words, when you pick your Starting XI, you aren’t just picking players because their permanent overall stats are good; you now have to look into how they play from game to game.
Infinity Engine definitely creates a challenge
I went into great detail about the Infinity Engine in my review of the FIFA 14 Demo, but — just like how the stats change game-by-game — the gameplay adjusts too. I have had games that should have been cakewalks that turned into slugfests and games that should have been easy turn to my favor.
You really have to plan your runs down the field well. The AI can and will adjust to your playing tendencies, and you must do so as well. In one game I played against Southampton, I got so lazy that in the dying moments they turned a 1-0 into a 1-1 draw because my defense kept letting them play deep inside the penalty box. And while I had no problems with making good saves, an errant header in the dying moments sunk me. You have to be on your toes at all times and learn to re-adjust when the opposition gets hungry for goals late in the game.
Pay attention to the players you pick. And likewise, scout your opposition. Speaking of scouting…
Scouting Network is hit or miss
I am starting to lean a little more into the ‘miss’ side with this feature. EA wanted to implement some of the FIFA Manager aspects into the manager mode with this tool. In essence, instead of you doing the scouting and finding the players you want, you send scouts to find players. That means you can’t just dip into the pool of players and pick the precise player you want. You have to review them because all of their stats won’t be readily available.