FIFA 14 PS4 Review
It’s been a long time since the beautiful game has had a worthy digital representation. Sure, the yearly releases of Winning Eleven and FIFA have competed and crowed for your attention and money, but, given the limitations of the PS3 and Xbox 360 hardware and presentations, it’s always been a less than ideal option. For years, my favorite soccer game has been Pro Evolution 2007, which reveals both my high standards for the genre and how lackluster many recent soccer releases have been. With the new release of the Playstation 4, the only question I had was if EA would be able to finally match FIFA’s progressive gameplay with an atmosphere becoming of the most popular game in the world. The answer is an unbridled and holistic yes – next-gen FIFA 14 is the soccer game that I’ve always wanted.
Though it’s obvious, the most notable improvement between FIFA 14 on the PS4 and PS3 is the appearance. Crowds, player animations, gameplay – everything just seems slightly smoother, and the game becomes far more enjoyable as a result. While I have some issues with the lack of new game modes from the PS3’s FIFA 13 to PS4’s FIFA 14, the game itself still manages to present the most accessible soccer game we’ve ever seen. The game’s menus and visuals are just sharper from the PS3 version, and the innovative “precision movement” system manages to impress on a number of levels. Initially, you might find the ease and flow of the gameplay off-setting, but FIFA 14 is still the most realistic soccer game you’ve ever played. The “precision movement” system uses both thumbsticks to control your player, letting you organically respond to the flow of each game. With the new improvements to the actual ball itself as well (in over 65 matches, I never once saw a case of “super-glue” dribbling or times when the ball would magically return to the nearest player), the game forces you to think and coordinate your movements more than ever.
Your dribbling and movements are easily controlled by a flick of the right-stick, forcing you to play a more realistic game than previous years demanded. It’s not possible to play the game on higher difficulties without using the additional maneuverability offered by the dual stick controls, and, though newer players will still find plenty to enjoy, it’s easy for me to recommend the gameplay as the game’s highest selling point (a claim that not all EA titles can offer). What’s nice about that shift is how fantastic FIFA 14 on the PS4 handles player collisions and interactions compared to the PS3 and 360 versions – there are numerous new animations featured in the game, and each pass, cross, or rush up the pitch genuinely feels unique.
Pulling up the deep replay system reveals that even the AI benefits from these improvements – while playing as a single player in career mode (you can control the same player the entire match), there were times when I made crossed the ball into the box and angrily questioned why my forwards (why do I stay with you, Toulouse FC?) couldn’t knock home the goal. Sure enough, the replay system revealed that my forwards were battling for position during the cross and didn’t have time to plant before trying to jump for a header. As a result, the defensive players were able to easily knock them over and clear the ball with little problem. I was angry, but then I realized I was angry because my teammates weren’t playing well – this is exactly the kind of visceral reaction that FIFA 14 demands of you. Sure, the occasional odd glitch rears its distracting head, but, overall, FIFA 14 fixes those distractions and instead forces you to enjoy trying to master its deceivingly simple approach.
In addition to the gameplay, all of the classic modes from the 360 and PS3 versions of FIFA 14 return. The classic career mode (as either player or manager), online friendlies, Ultimate team, and skill events make the jump to the newest generation, and you can even transition your season progress save from the PS3 to the PS4 without a hitch. Ultimate team is perhaps the most addicting mode of any sports simulation, as you’re tasked with collecting player cards in a fantasy soccer-like attempt to create the best team from present and past players. It might attract only the most diehard of soccer fans, but that would understate how enjoyable it is to play matches with the purpose of unlocking those cards.
While FIFA 14 might not present the revolutionary leap many of us imagined with the shift to a new generation of consoles, it is undoubtedly the best soccer game that’s ever been released. With another year to revise and improve the current offerings, there’s reason to think that EA Canada can manage to make a sports game that ranks among the best ever created. In the meantime, I’ll keep being frustrated at my offense and hope it somehow finds a way to improve. I can’t take much more, Toulouse.