It has been a couple of years since I have actually played a FIFA title. Iím normally of the opinion that yearly updates donít justify yearly purchases. Yes, there are line-up changes to the licensed teams, some minor gameplay tweaks to iron out the bugs from the previous yearís iteration and a couple of new features to add to the mix. But is it worth forking out your hard earned cash for these minor updates? It has been a couple of years since I last visited FIFA, so figured it would be a good idea to try out the franchise with FIFA 14.
Where to start?
FIFA 14 comes complete with a host of game modes to try out Ė both locally and online. My favourite are the career modes, as they have some progression as you play through the games. The Player Career is kind of cool and works reasonably well, but Manager Career mode was the mode that I enjoyed most. The Manager mode allows you to control every aspect of your club of choice. Teams set goals for you at the beginning of the season depending on their positions and it is up to you to find a way to meet those expectations. Apart from actually playing through the games (which you can simulate if youíd rather be a pure manager) you need to organise player contacts, hire scouts to scour the world for players to fill a void in your squad and attend press events. It isnít quite as detailed as Football Manager, but is detailed enough to keep you entertained for hours.
The online modes are great for testing your skills against (or with, as is the case of the co-op modes) human opposition. The FIFA Ultimate Team enables gamers to build and manage their own ultimate team of players from around the world. Friendlies can be played against online friends (although I did have some trouble starting a game with one friend) or against random online opponents with a similar skills level. And if you feel confident, joining one of the myriad of tournaments can also be a way to see how you compare to others around the world.
For those that havenít played a FIFA game for some time, or for those wishing to improve their skills, FIFA 14 has included a range of Skill challenges. A random skill challenge will appear prior to each match (they can be avoided if you prefer) as well as accessible from the main menu. Each skill has an associated challenge attached, and these help to fine tune your skills. One has you using your tackling skills to dispose an opponent of the ball, whilst another requires you to score goals in specific areas of the net. Most of the challenges are quite easy to complete on Bronze level, but require impressive skills to progress past the Gold level. The skills challenges work somewhat like mini tutorials, but are presented in a way that provides more enjoyment than a simple tutorial lesson.
Presentation of the games is wonderful. It is almost like being an interactive TV broadcast. The audio is superb, from the roar of the crowd to the blowing of the final whistle. The commentary from stalwarts Martin Tyler and Alan Smith is both informative and entertaining. They combine well together and were able to come up with some interesting comments when the matches were in a dull period. They become excited when a player takes a shot on goal, appreciate the talents of the line judges and seem concerned when a player is injured. Theyíll let you know if a player has scored a hat-trick, the result from the previous encounter between the two sides and who is in form.
Player movement is smooth, touch controls work perfectly. Heaps of game modes.
Defensive controls arenít quite as tight as the attacking controls