2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil
Initially, I had an internal debate over how to write this review. I have to admit, I was tempted to write it backwards. After playing FIFA 14 on the PS4 since launch, going back to the PS3 graphics and framerate issues was hard to take at first. But the longer I played, the more I noticed series plaguing problems that had clearly been fixed on the next gen version began to once more rear their ugly heads. So let me start by saying this: 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil is another fantastic soccer game by EA Sports, capturing the grandeur of the world’s biggest sporting event better than ever before. However, that doesn’t make what is essentially a re-skinned port of a game that’s been out for awhile worth a full price purchase – nor does it explain why they couldn’t have made a PS4 version, which you have to think would have been as superior to the PS3 version as FIFA 14 was.
I get the feeling that EA tried to level the playing field a bit since certain tactics could be exploited in FIFA 14. I’ve always been a fan of wing play and I really feel like crossing the ball has been removed as a viable attacking option. Almost every cross found the first defender, the goalie, or the stands. I kept trying to find the sweet spot, but always seemed to struggle to do so consistently. Slide tackles are virtually useless unless you’re intentionally trying to foul someone. Through balls are still lethal, but playing them through the air over-the-top is not nearly as effective. They are almost always cut off.
I wish the teammate AI was just a bit more intelligent, but then I’ve been saying that every year. I still get the feeling that sometimes my players simply aren’t as intuitive as they should be. It drives me nuts when I try to pass the ball to someone ten yards away whilst barely touching the pass button, only to have the computer decide I was trying to pass to the guy across the field (with no pace on the pass mind you) with four opponents in the way.
I don’t feel like the game plays nearly as smooth either, which is weird because I played the PS3 version of FIFA 14 as well and it didn’t feel this clunky. Old issues re-appear: players waiting on passes to get to them, odd moments of seeming magnetization between the ball and player. Other than that, there really isn’t any difference in the gameplay that I could tell.
EA certainly got the presentation and pageantry of the world’s biggest sporting event down pat. To see your team walk out, hear the anthems played, and see the crowds respond (even frolicking in the streets), well, it’s all true to the real experience…except that again, it simply doesn’t look as nice as it could if they had made it on PS4.
One addition I really love is EA Sports Talk Radio. Basically, this running commentary goes on during menus. It’s actually interesting if you are a football fan. They are touting over 50 hours of recordings, so it should stay pretty new. I liked how they made direct reference to previous games, even going so far as predicting the outcome of upcoming match-ups.
The mode I was most looking forward to trying was “Road to the FIFA World Cup.” The chance to take England to glory was all the incentive I needed. You play every game the national teams have played (including friendlies). Players on your squad will have a “form” they are in, which raises or lowers depending on how they play on their pitch. You also participate in training sessions designed around mini-games – some of which we have seen in the last couple of years – with the express purpose of increasing a single statistic. At first these were fun, but by the end of qualifying it began to wear thin. The real fun lies in this pseudo-RPG element becoming useful as you start to really develop your team in preparation for the finals.
Outside of the main “campaign” of qualifying, there are a couple of other modes worth checking out. “Captain Your Country” is back and just as fun as always. You’ll have to earn your spot on the national team as you bring your created player up through the ranks. Make sure to do well in every training session – it helps a lot. There is also “Story of Qualifying” mode that allows you to change real world outcomes, but only the most-staunch fans will try this.
For the most part, 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil plays just like FIFA 14. It’s still the best soccer sim on the market, in my opinion, and having the chance to see my beloved England lift the World Cup – something I fear I won’t live to see in real life – brought tears to my eyes (okay, not really, but still…). Unfortunately, as I said initially, there is certainly nothing here to warrant a full priced release. I think that is what really bothers me. There is nothing wrong with the game per se, but if you really think about it, you probably won’t be playing through it more than once. Is that worth $60? That’s up to you.
Reviewed By: Simon Waldron
Publisher: Electronic Arts
This review is based on a retail copy of 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil for the PlayStation 3 provided by Electronic Arts.