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Sponsored Video: Live4Liverpool win FIFA 14 Blogger Tournament

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David MartinezFIFA 14 may not be a revolution but it is certainly one large evolution for the popular series.

On Tuesday 24th September, Unruly Media very kindly allowed a number of bloggers to visit the company’s head quarters in London to preview the latest offering from EA Sports monster football franchise, FIFA 14.

Attendees were allowed to sample the game before release and participate in a tournament to win a copy for themselves. Factoring in complimentary beer, pizza and wonderful hospitality, it was pretty much every gaming fan’s dream night. All that was asked in return was a review of the game, so here it is.

The game is extremely different from it’s previous incarnation (FIFA 13) and while the tweaks can be a little jarring initially, with time they add a new level of depth to the game and are a significant improvement on what has gone before. This isn’t just change for changes sake either, the alterations are crucial to the improvements of this game on its predecessors. They help to create an experience that feels familiar yet different and challenging enough to satisfy long time fans of the franchise.

The most glaring difference in terms of game play is immediately obvious when you start up a match. Gone is the instant control that allowed quicker players to dominate the game in recent releases. Now, players first touches are far more inconsistent and it really helps to add to the realism. For example, if you play an awkward pass into a technically limited striker like Djibril Cisse, he will no longer be able to trap the ball faultlessly and simply accelerate past defenders on his way to goal. Instead, he will likely struggle to get the pass under control for a period of time, allowing a defender to nip in and takes possession from him. Players that lack technical skill in real life are now less effective on FIFA 14 than in the past and that should be celebrated. New avenues must therefore be explored in order to be an effective attacking player.

This alteration means that the game actively encourages intelligent, considered build up play this year and while this can be frustrating at first, prolonged play will result in far greater satisfaction than before. Scoring a goal now feels like a real achievement and mindless, pace orientated, high scoring matches resembling basketball games are now a thing of the past.
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While the effectiveness of quicker players has been reduced, strength and skill are now crucial aspects of the game’s make up. Hulking centre-backs can now use their physique to dominate smaller opponents and players with killer ball control and technique are now essential to unlocking your opponent’s defence. It all adds up to far more immersive and rewarding game play as well as showcasing the realism that EA Sports have focussed on greatly this year.

Aesthetically, the game predictably excels. In game graphics and player likenesses remain similar to FIFA 13 which we’re more than adequate and the option menus have taken on a tiled appearance, mirroring the operating system of the Xbox 360 which is a nice touch. FIFA games have always drawn plaudits for their presentation and this year’s offering maintains those high standards.

The general consensus at Unruly HQ was that EA have delivered a game of real quality. They haven’t simply rolled out another remake of a franchise that is bound to sell ungodly amounts of copies regardless, they have instead worked hard at eradicating some of the weaker elements in the franchise and for this they deserve credit.

FIFA 14 Unruly

One flaw that slightly blemishes this impressive football sim was apparent, however. Scoring headed goals from crosses seems to be a little too easy and doesn’t fit in with the realism on show in the rest of the game. It is a problem that will probably be solved pretty quickly with the aid of a patch though and in the grand scheme of things it doesn’t detract from the overall experience too much. Quite a few headed goals were scored during the blogger tournament but they were outweighed by many goals that looked absolutely fantastic thanks to the fluid animations of the players (and occasionally the skill of the bloggers!).

At the end of an enjoyable and exciting night’s play at Unruly HQ, the grand final between the Xbox 360 tournament winner David Martinez (myself!) and the PlayStation 3 tournament winner Vincent Beard was played on huge projector in front of the rest of the audience with the Xbox champion winning out to receive an additional prize of Monster MVP Carbon Headphones generously on offer thanks to the kind people of Unruly.

The event held in London, like the game itself, was a resounding success. FIFA 14 remains the best football game on the market and its deviation from its hitherto arcade style to a more realistic representation of the beautiful game is more than enough reason to go and buy a copy if you haven’t already.

This post has been sponsored by EA Sports, but all thoughts are our own.

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