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The sports game genre is an interesting one, because it has a singular purpose. When you sit down to play a sport game, you expect it to be a realistic portrayal of that sport. You know what you want to see and do, and the rules are already laid out for you. As a game developer, I imagine it would be a daunting task to make the same basic game, year after year, and be expected to innovate and change from game to game. This basic conundrum is something that sports games have struggled with from time to time, but ultimately the key is in the details. This games can’t make sweeping changes without breaking the fundamental building blocks of the game.
Though some would say that sports game are the same each year, I would venture to say that the Fifa series has never seen such criticism. My personal experience with Fifa up until this point has been casual games with my brothers, who play the game religiously. But that’s just it, they play this game, and every other sports game, each year. They trade the others in, but Fifa always seems to stick around. It finds those tiny chinks in the armor and it seals them up, making it stronger and still familiar each year.
Now we have Fifa 14 for the PS4, and another stigma rears it’s ugly head. The first version of any sports game on a new console tends to be something with lots of flash, and no substance. Has Fifa lost it’s way? Let’s find out.
Features and Additions
Fifa 14 is the most comprehensive soccer (or football if you prefer) game on the market. All of the modes you know and love are still here for the new game. Head to Head Seasons, Online Friendlies, Virtual Pro, Manager, and Ultimate are all still here and functioning exactly how you expect with minor tweaks to the interface layout. If you’ve already started playing on current gen, everything carries over to the new PS4 version, which is a nice touch. Constantly updated stats also mean that all the players and teams are up to date when you’re ready to play.
The big additions come to light when you’re in the game and experience the new engine designed for next generation consoles. Before we go into graphics, it is worth discussing the new level of player awareness and the depth of the new animation capabilities. Starting with the animation, there is no longer a set of core animations for various techniques. Now, the animations are dynamic and physics based. It may not directly affect how you play, but it presents everything with far more realism and seems to change based on the context of the situation. Watching a player’s subtle movements, or sweeping gestures goes a long way toward making the matches feel organic and real.
Another major victory for the next generation version is the improved player awareness. The game has become more realistic without sacrificing the element of pure fun. Intense defensive tactics such as charging and using slide tackle are less likely to work on the new engine as the opposing players will hurdle and dodge your slide tackles now. The game requires a more calculated approach when defending or in possession of the ball. Players will also dive out of the way if you shoot for a goal which is another instance of their newfound awareness.
Though it may not seem like a huge leap forward, the new physics tied directly to the ball itself in Fifa 14 make it seem like it’s own beast. For example, after a bad pass or a rebound, the ball can now break free, leaving both teams the option of chasing it down. This changes up the dynamic but breaking free from the standard switching between the two teams. This unpredictability makes the game more exciting and gives each team a competitive edge.
As expected, the next generation version of Fifa 14 looks significantly sharper in the resolution and textures. The individual players stand out more with improved skin and clothing textures that pop with realism while still creating a smooth and realistic look. The uncanny valley strikes when players are shown close up however. The faces still lack a true sense of realism and the eyes have that dead stare that can be unsettling in other games. In Fifa, it’s not a big deal, but it is worth noting. Other details come in the way the player’s jerseys ripple and slide across their bodies when they move. It’s all very impressive and a nice step up from current graphical standards.
The stadiums and crowds have received a huge update this year on the next generation systems, which is something we’ve all been clamoring for. Granted, it’s not a huge part of the game, but the energy from the crowd is a huge part of the atmosphere. I am happy to report that this year Fifa 14 has brought us fully three dimensional crowds and improved stadium graphics. Now fans with respond and react more intensely to the way the game is playing out. The energy is more noticeable and the improved stadiums bring more life to each arena. It’s not perfect, you’ll still see some clones in the audience, but the improvement overall is a big one and the addition of it makes for a stronger and more intense atmosphere.
The Final Verdict
Fifa 14 is the strongest entry in the series to date. It takes everything you would want and need from a soccer (football) game, and wraps it in a more realistic, intense, and complete package. The gameplay is more realistic than ever, the new physics and animation work incredibly well, and the enhanced ball physics bring a new level to the experience. Graphically, PS4 makes this game look the best it’s ever been, and we finally have three dimensional crowds! Rejoice soccer (football) fans, you now have the game you’ve always wanted.
What do you think of the new game? How is the experience on PS4? Tell us in the comments!
Tips for playing Fifa 14
You know, Soccer (football) may seem simple, but it's not. It's a complex ballet, much like the art of warfare only there are less explosions and more people screaming. Anyway, you've spoken, and it's time to see what tips we can round up and kick into the goal for Fifa 14. Thanks, as always, to our fans who helped make these tips happen.
Tip #1 - Approach is everything
Scoring a goal in Fifa 14 is not as simple as running toward the goal and firing off a shot. If it were that easy, then the keepers wouldn’t get paid as much as they do. Case and point, always try to approach the goal from the side, and shot from just outside the box. It’s of course, risky to try and make a shot that close, but it pays off a lot more than you would expect it to.
Tip #2 - The art of the Finesse shot
There’s all kinds of ways to take a shot, but I am here to tell you of the Finesse shot. When you’re approaching a goal, you can hold the R1 button to prepare the shot. Like normal shots, you can aim these without problem but when using this modifier, you apply a curve to the shot which can prove invaluable in getting the ball where you need it to go.
Tip #3 – Setting up your opponent for defeat with the One-Time shot
This kind of shot forces the defense to realign and provides you with a visual representation of how awesome you are. To pull of this shot, you’ll need to kick the second the ball reaches your player’s feet. If you’re player stats are high enough, you’ll even perform a scissor kick, which not only looks awesome, but gives you plenty reason to trash talk your opponent.
Tip #4 – How to keep your opponent on their feet with the Give and Go pass
Passing is just as important as shooting in Fifa 14, and we’ve got the perfect solution for your needs. When a defender just won’t stay off your back, try this technique out. To do this, hold L1 while pressing the X button on the controller. This will allow you to pass the ball while simultaneously sprinting down the field. The ball gets to your fellow player just in time for them to pass it right back and set you up for greatness.
Tip #5 – Slow and Steady wins the race
Running down the field constantly isn’t going to get you anywhere, but it will give you great cardio. Since cardio isn’t really the goal here, try something a little more on the defensive side. When you’re faced with an attacker, hold the L2 button to put yourself in position of the ball, and give a wide stance. Instead of running, you’ll be able to side step which makes it significantly harder for the attacker to get past you or get the ball.
Final Score: 9/10
Game Category: Sports
Article by - Bradley Ramsey
Insert Date: 12/19/2013