2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil PS3 Review

With the excitement building up for the World Cup in Brazil this year, Betfair has kindly sent us a copy of the new FIFA game. Here’s what we thought of it.

It’s that time when the nation comes together every four years to gather its hopes and dreams of England finally winning that prestigious World Cup again. It never happens, but briefly for two to three weeks, we have a glint of wonder in our eyes with the optimism that it just might be this year. That’s the power the World Cup has on a nation. The FIFA World Cup is the biggest sporting event on the globe, with an estimated 700 million people expected to watch the final match on Sunday 13th July. It’s also a time where EA seizes the opportunity to slip in a new FIFA title before the yearly addition comes out at the end of September. But this time it’s an interesting period for the series, since FIFA 14 was the first game for PS4 and Xbox One, making use of the extra power for its physics, animation and graphics, puts  2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil is in a strange position – it’s only an Xbox 360 and PS3, losing all the features that the current generation title included, along with FIFA Ultimate Team, and requiring fans with new consoles to go back to their old systems to play it.

One of the huge differences between this title and a mainline FIFA entry is the presentation, which EA has managed to capture the wonderful carnival nature of Brazil within its UI and the empowering use of green and yellow that is spectacularly splashed all over the game’s menus. It succeeds in infusing the excitement of this electrifying event, which is truly helped by the eccentric introduction to the tournament and the EA Talk Radio feature that allows the player to pick between two groups of presenters, Ian Darke and Andy Goldstein, or the Men in Blazers, made up of Michael Davies and Roger Bennett. These guys talk over the action during a player’s World Cup campaign with entertaining commentary on players, the teams – just as if they were live from the future in Brazil and enjoying the hot weather and the beautiful sport – while the player traverses the menus leading up to their next World Cup match. These talks are obviously somewhat limited if you replay the same team, but with over 50 hours of recording dialogue between the two stations, it’s recommended playing through the World Cup several  times as different nations to hear their banter about the competition.

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2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil is a rather featured-rich package to say its main purpose is to celebrate the World Cup. There have been some shortcomings in previous tournament edition FIFA games, but this one seems to be going all out with its game modes. The World Cup is most likely going to be the mode people jump into first. It’s as you can imagine – playing through the group and knockout stages until you drive England whatever team you desire to the final and successfully win the World Cup. The new training regimes, which are slotted in a free day during two match fixtures, are no more than a bit of side amusement, often built from the loading games in previous FIFA title, as you take four players through the skill games to improve them, but after a while I was getting a little bored with this area and would often just simulate the training.

Captain Your Country is 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Be a Pro mode with a twist. You take a player (or your self-created football star) and are pitted against three rivals on the national squad all gunning for the captaincy. From the year 2010 until 2014, you must show that you’re the best man for the job by outclassing the other contenders in matches and training. Ratings from the other rivals are constantly shown on the screen, which can be a bit distracting when you’re in the corner of the bottom area of the pitch and text is on top of your player showing a rival’s score out of ten. These certainly could have been shrunk down and placed somewhere better on the HUD. A neat edition is the ability to re-centre your player to his position on the field with a click of a button, making it easier for players who often run out of position to get back in place.

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Road to the FIFA World Cup is a main attraction for offline play, as it lets you and your friends pick from any of the 203 recognised nations (that’s a total of 7,469 players) and take them through the qualifying campaign and into the group stages of the actual World Cup event. This means you could potentially have some of the lowest ranking teams, such as Bahamas or Madagascar and get them to winning the world cup, if you have the skills to perform using a team that doesn’t feature a star roaster of top statistical players or ones that throw themselves on the ground when a whiff of air blows past them. Road to the FIFA World Cup also includes the training regime from the World Cup mode, but since you’re taking part over a longer period of time, you have more chances to improve team members.

Story of Qualifying is a smaller mode, which is made up of various scenarios from different matches throughout the road to the 2014 World Cup. It’s a variant of the World Cup Classics mode from World Cup 98, but rather than based on various world cup matches, this one is taken from the last two years of international football. The scope of the challenges ranges from controlling Jordan and trying to come back from 2 – 1 with the remaining 18 minutes of the match against Japan, to playing England and scoring another five more goals in the 5 – 0 match against San Marino, so that you can repeat what Poland did in the previous qualifiers and win 10 – 0, but you only have 13 minutes on the clock. This is a great mode that extends the single player with refreshing adjustments on how you would usually play a game of football.

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I have already established that 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil is a step back from the PS4/One version of FIFA 14, but there are new features for the on-field gameplay that make it different than FIFA 14 on PS3/Xbox 360, along with the addition of new animations for saving, kicking and passing. A big feature that EA are touting is the inclusion of over-the-back headers, meaning that a defender can stand behind a player and be able to stand or jump taller than the attacker and clear the ball. This is great for corners or free kicks, as it stops defenders who seemed to be hit by the dumb-stick in the older games when the ball came across and an attacker completely steals it from the front of them.

In an amusing way, even though EA has developed the over-the-back headers to stop easy goals coming in from corners and free kicks, the overall feel of 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil is one that seems to promote the idea to score. Shooting has more power behind it, making matches exciting and potentially lethal when players can do cracking shots from outside the box.  Passing and dribbling are more responsive, which seem to go hand in hand with the increased pace of the game. This is a faster football game than FIFA 14, inheriting the host’s nature to bring beautifully skilled and flashy football to the sport. Even though this means it’s less simulation than FIFA 14, I can’t argue that it’s nice to get a bit of football that makes it easier for people to pick up and have a blast without worrying how to score.

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Moving to Online, Road to Rio de Janeiro (compulsory music link) is similar to Seasons, which is based on moving through the 12 official World Cup arenas, starting at Arena da Amazônia and making your way up to Estádio do Maracanã. Results will determine if you move up or down a stadium, as stadiums act as a league system, so that the better players are towards the final stadium, theoretically resulting in harder matches as you get closer to being the team that holds the World Cup Trophy. Story of Finals is a mode that isn’t currently active at the moment, but EA advertise this has a place where fans can go and recreate matches that have played that day.  “An hour after the final whistle of every match, a series of challenges based on the day’s result will be available to play. Replicate a specific score-line, change the course of a match or win a match without conceding a goal. There will be a number of different scenarios available to challenge.” 

2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil is a fun and celebratory football game that captures the glorious month of the World Cup delightfully. It’s not a replacement for the mainline series, especially if you are a PS4 or Xbox One owner, but the increased pace and the change to attacking play means this year’s World Cup game is exciting, even if it isn’t innovative. As the World Cup month draws closer, people are going to be in the spirit and 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil is a good way for people to become even more immersed in the event. Solo or with friends, 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil will be doing the samba until the summer is over and everything returns to regular scheduling. It might only be worthwhile for a couple of months, but 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil is a solid, fun and good football game to fill in the downtime between World Cup matches.

7 out of 10