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Score: 90%
ESRB: Everyone
Publisher: EA Sports
Developer: EA Canada
Media: DVD/1
Players: 1- 4; 2 - 22 (Online)
Genre: Sports (Soccer)/ Simulation/ Online

Graphics & Sound:

After having taken the plunge and engaged in the practice of reviewing annually-released sports games, it is FIFA 14 that finally opens my eyes to how powerful the iterative approach can be if taken by the right people. EA Canada has proven time and again that they are the right people, and as a result, FIFA 14 is a fine advocate of refinement over revolution. Feature-wise, there isn't really anything new to expect, but this year's changes are almost entirely under the hood. The difference is more than skin-deep, and you'll definitely feel it if you're a longtime veteran of the series. It's a confident step in the direction of simulation, and the improvements are tiny but myriad.

FIFA 14 makes a powerful first impression on the visual side, and it has absolutely nothing to do with the action on the pitch. Of the EA Sports games I've played in the last several years, all of them were plagued with miserably overcrowded hub interfaces. To make a long story short, FIFA 14 cuts the crap. If you're for some reason a fan of the mounds and mounds of text that obscured a huge chunk of the screen, you can go digging for it. The result is a streamlined navigation system that looks pulled right out of the current Xbox Dashboard.

On the pitch, the visuals are more important. If you're looking at the big picture, FIFA 14 won't impress you, and for that matter, most sports games won't either. There's only so much that can be said about green grass, stadiums, and spectators. But the impossible agility of FIFAs past does not make its return. The players scrambling on the pitch this time around are more realistically animated (and therefore, more human) than ever. Collision physics are brought nearly up to the standards set by brother franchise NHL. It's a great-looking game despite its otherwise requisite plainness.

Sound-wise, FIFA 14 is mostly par for the course. However, major improvements have been made in the commentary by mainstays Martin Tyler and Alan Smith. They sound less like broken records and more like professional analysts. I won't pretend that I found much of their insight interesting to me on a personal level, but I can tell that more work went into it than ever before, and the fans are sure to appreciate that. On the pitch, the muted struggles of the players contrast nicely with the roars of the crowds. And on top of it all is a great licensed soundtrack.


Most FIFA games (and most EA Sports games for that matter) feature some kind of selling point, complete with genre buzzwords and phrases. FIFA 14 doesn't bother with any of that and focuses all its energy on simply delivering a great game of soccer. It does so extraordinarily well, though as mentioned earlier, it is replete with tiny fundamental mechanical changes that add up to something really special.

In your primary hub, you can keep track of everything you need to maintain your career in whatever mode you're indulging in. Experience, special currency, all of it is neatly displayed alongside the game's headlining modes, which are, for all intents and purpose, unchanged. Want to play a single exhibition match? Build your Ultimate Team? Follow your online friends and see what they're up to? Hone your abilities through a series of skill games? Establish an eleven-player online team to take up against others? You can do it all, and all of it is guaranteed to live up to your expectations, provided it's your thing. I may never fully get the appeal of modes like Ultimate Team, but I've got my share of hardcore soccer fans who are in love with it.


If you have previous experience with the franchise (on the same console), the game does an admirable job of hooking you up with the settings you're most inclined to. That being said, if you've kept up with this series since time immemorial, you might feel like you keep running into brick walls for a while before you settle into the swing of things. It takes some time, but once you get into it, you won't be able to imagine it any other way.

Online is a different story. If you're not a huge fan of the game, you'll probably have a rough time of it. All of the online competition I've run into thus far have kicked my ass with grace, but you may feel like a fish out of water, especially if you take the leap into online clubs. But, as with literally everything else, practice makes perfect.

Game Mechanics:

On the surface, FIFA 14 is just the same game with a different name (and rosters, and all that). But take a magnifying glass to the game and you'll see some serious physical magic at work. Player and ball physics and animations have been completely reworked, resulting in a game that, from the start, feels different. Every step, pass, and shot is deliberate and has immediate consequences, for better or worse. The disconnect between the player and the ball is felt that much more keenly; just because you're in possession doesn't mean that you can totally blow it with the dribbling. Speed and direction directly impact the likelihood that you'll either blow past defenders or make a complete fool of yourself. Challenges can still be hard-earned, though; complex handling no longer requires additional button presses.

Artificial intelligence is much improved this year; computer-controlled teammates actually play their roles instead of drifting into heavy coverage just to make the perfect cross impossible to pull off. The awareness shown is impressive, even on the other side of the pitch; opponents are aggressive and read your strategies with more success than before. This in turn makes games where domination is more often a tenuous concept at best, and as a result, matches are much more exciting.

Don't be afraid of change; FIFA 14 adequately prepares the franchise for its stride into the next generation. If you only care about new modes and features, you're kind of missing the point; the gameplay is much improved and feels legitimate in a real-world sense. And since it'll be making its appearance on the Xbox One and PlayStation 4, fans have quite a lot to look forward to.

-FenixDown, GameVortex Communications
AKA Jon Carlos

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