Every year, when I start to see the adverts, I’ll sneer at the prospect of EA cashing in on a new FIFA game with minimal changes to the last year’s edition. If FIFA 14 was FIFA 13 with the team line ups updated I’d probably not even notice.
But in spite of my cynicism every year, like one of Pavlov’s dogs, I’ll still get excited at the prospect of the new game coming out. So like an obedient drone, I rushed to my PS3 at the news of the demo for this years game coming out. Here’s my thoughts.
It hardly matters to the overall experience, but I like the new design of the menus. They’re more boxy, a bit smarter and display more useful information on the screen than before. It’s probably something that they should have done years ago but I have to say that its a small improvement.
I’ve not bothered reading the marketing bumf that they churn out with the new releases, so don’t know what EA are saying about gameplay improvements, but the AI seems better. When you’ve got the ball it feels like your team mates have a better idea of what they should do.
This is a pretty big step forward, as it means that you’ve got more attacking options and the game starts to flow more like a real game of football does. I particularly like the way that attackers will make positive attacking runs for you to thread through balls through to, rather than waiting until you pass before they start moving.
Crazy quick players
Hopefully this is just a glitch in the demo version, but I noticed that some players have freakish speed. It’s completely unrealistic and means that you can get hopelessly out of position but still recover because you know you’re man can run very quickly.
I suppose the added speed makes the game flow more but it also makes the game seem like a Benny Hill sketch. It’s not something that would ruin the game but it’s a bit odd.
“Get out of the way ref!”
I can’t quite put my finger on why this happens, but in the few times I’ve played the demo, I’ve tried to pass to the ref in nearly every game. It might be that they’ve made the ref’s look more realistic or they’ve messed around with the way that they move around the pitch.
Whatever the reason, it’s a bit annoying. It’s possibly just me being stupid but I lost possession quite a few times because the ref refused to receive my pass and contribute to my attack.
From the games I’ve played I noticed that ball control is possibly one of the biggest changes. Even good players don’t have the ability to completely kill the ball and have it perfectly at their feet.
This makes dribbling more realistic but also more risky. It’s a step forward in terms of making the game reflect the real world but also makes it harder to terrorise your opponent with penetrating runs from the wings.
I suspect that, like most changes, once you’ve played the game for a while it’ll get easier to predict the way the ball will run and then you can just follow it that way.
The real world ruining the game
One thing that occured to me when I was playing the demo as Barcelona, was that the big transfer moves of the summer are possibly going to spoil the game a bit. With Neymar going to Barcelona and Gareth Bale going to Real Madrid it means that both of the Spanish giants are going to be awesome.
You might think this is a good thing, but it could also make the game less fun if everyone playing online is going to be one or the other. Not that you can criticise the game but it’s perhaps more a reflection on the state of modern football.
It’s hard to say at this stage. The game doesn’t feel all that different to FIFA 13 but that’s not such a bad thing. Hopefully the small improvements that are on show in the demo will add to the experience and the minor irritations are ironed out before the full release.
If you didn’t like FIFA 13 then you’ll not find enough different in this game to change your mind. If, like me, you’re one of the mindless drones who buy the game every year, you’ll probably find just enough different in the game to stop you thinking you’ve been completely ripped off.