While those who’ve read our current-gen review for FIFA 14 know that EA Sports’ latest isn’t the big step forward fans were hoping for, this is a unique circumstance. With the next-gen consoles now upon us, FIFA 14 gets another chance to impress, only with the added power of the PS4 or Xbox One.
Unfortunately, while FIFA 14 for the new systems does look and play better than its current-gen counterparts, the disparity is slight. And where fans might be looking for a vast improvement, or a game with jaw-dropping visuals, FIFA 14, again, does not completely fit that bill.
It’s important to start with the good, of which there is quite a bit. FIFA 14 offers a crowd and stadium atmosphere that realistically mimics that of a real soccer match. From the look of the pitch (soccer speak for grass) to the animations on the crowds, FIFA 14 shows hints of what a next-gen presentation can look like.
Similarly, the player models are much improved over the current-gen (old-gen?) versions, but that detail is unfortunately lost in the game’s standard camera angle. During a replay or pre-match scene, the player models and faces look great, but when they start animating things get a little messy. And while some more high profile players greatly resemble their real world counterparts, other players look generic and featureless. All told, the player renderings are slightly better versions of those seen in the current-gen version of the game — enough for gamers to notice, but not to be impressed by.
Where the game truly makes substantial strides is in the on-the-field gameplay, which pushes AI to a new level. From the way opposing defenders react to the layered approaches teammates will take based on context, FIFA 14 has a ton of tiny under-the-hood improvements that make matches more challenging, but also more realistic. Many of the “cheap” tactics that might lead to an easy goal in the current-gen version are rendered useless in the next-gen, and so are dumb teammates. That isn’t to say the gameplay is perfect, but these subtle improvements show that EA Sports clearly knew where the game needed work.
What results is a next-gen version of FIFA 14 that plays well on both sides of the ball, but isn’t wholly reliant on the gamer to micro-manage every element. Now, gamers can have confidence that their teammates will, for the most part, play smart, at least on the Semi-Pro difficulty and above.
That being said, there are still moments of frustration in FIFA 14, many of which resemble those experienced in the current-gen version. First touch off the ball is still somewhat problematic, which for some players continues to be a deal breaker. Granted, EA Sports has improved FIFA 13‘s extremely troublesome first touch, but there’s still room to further hone the mechanic. And while the game purports to give more skilled players, like Lionel Messi for example, an advantage, there are still ways to get by with nearly any player or team. Yes, that makes the game more accessible, but it also makes the game’s huge roster of teams feel surprisingly similar.
The next-gen version of FIFA 14 slightly tweaks the on-the-field gameplay of its current-gen counterpart to make a better playing game. That being said, the experience as a whole isn’t that markedly different from what is available on current-gen platforms, as most of the major changes occur behind-the-scenes and won’t drastically impact gameplay.
Then there are the visuals, which are crisp and clear, but do not offer the “wow” factor many might expect from a next-gen sports game. The player models, stadiums, and crowds all certainly look better, but only in direct comparison situations. In the heat of gameplay, many gamers will honestly forget they’re playing the next-gen version. That might speak to the quality of the game regardless of platform, or it might just be a byproduct of FIFA‘s wide camera angle, or it could be a combination of both.
Whatever the case, FIFA 14 doesn’t deliver that big leap forward fans might have been hoping for in the next-gen, but it shows the franchise’s potential with these new machines. Like many sports games released as launch titles, FIFA 14 teases without fully delivering; it’s worth the purchase for fans that want their next-gen sports fix, but casual gamers might want to see what next year’s version offers.
Have you had a chance to check out FIFA 14 on the PS4 or Xbox One? What do you think? Let us know in the comments below.
FIFA 14 is available now for the PS4 and Xbox One. Game Rant primarily played the PS4 version for this review.