Is EA’s “FIFA 14” the most realistic sports game of all time? Well, it’s at least the closest a soccer game has ever gotten to capturing the true life realism of the “beautiful game.” With improved ball mechanics, a completely revamped shot system, and the most in-depth online experience I’ve seen in any EA Sports title, “FIFA 14” is hands down the finest soccer simulator on the market.
Innovations; innovations; innovations, that’s what differentiates this year’s FIFA release with its predecessors. The biggest improvement comes with the introduction of precision movement. As players cut, pivot, and accelerate into open field, every step counts more than ever. In previous models, players could trap balls in completely unrealistic ways. As long as the lofted pass was remotely close to a running player, he would most likely come away with the ball. With precision movement, however, players are forced to exercise caution with every pass they make. There really isn’t such a thing as an easy pass anymore. Everything must be perfectly timed and calculated.
Another important boost to the simulated realism of the game is the addition of the pure shot mechanic. It is now possible to adjust the stride of each computer generated soccer player in order to strike the ball with either foot. Well-hit balls feel satisfying, but it is also possible to get off quick, off-balance shots and rushed kicks when they are needed.
Adding to the upgraded player-controlled soccer stars, AI teammate intelligence has been redesigned as well. In a massively collaborative sport like soccer, being able to trust your teammates is imperative. With better-decision making, smarter tracking, and perfected run marking, I was finally able to trust my non-player controlled defenders with covering the net. Defender AI can also recognize opportunities to provide double-team support and win back possession faster and more efficiently.
All of these design level enhancements filter into one, incredibly impressive “Career Mode.” While Ultimate Team and its “FUT Legends” (where you can literally add Pele and other legendary soccer stars from the past to your Ultimate team lineup) is a lot of fun, the new Global Transfer Network added to FIFA’s “Career Mode” makes online-play even more rewarding. With the Global Transfer Network, players can fully develop and refine their own scouting network, where it is now possible to evaluate players and uncover attributes that can bolster their fantasy squad during transfer windows.
With over 30 licensed leagues, 600 clubs, and 16,000 unique players, “FIFA 14” is the most dynamic, in depth FIFA game on the market. Even though the franchise has emphasized realism over arcade style shooting galleries recently, this year’s addition is nonetheless a heck of a lot of fun to play. Yes, you might not be able to score as many counter-attack, free-wheeling style goals this time around, but with every well-struck kick to the upper-ninety you will surely find yourself celebrating that much more.
“FIFA 14” is out now, and is rated E for Everyone. The game is available for the Xbox 360, PS3, and PC. It will also be obtainable for the Xbox One and PS4 at launch.
By David Morris