Over the next couple of months there are a lot of titles releasing for both the Xbox One and Xbox 360, one of these is FIFA 14. A football title which has dominated for some time over Pro Evolution Soccer and will be the first title to take a step over to the next-gen world. The most difficult choice faced by many is whether you’ll be willing to fork out £45 for a 360 copy, whilst knowing a better next-gen version will launch in a few months time. Hopefully this review will answer that for anyone in a similar situation.

On start-up, the first thing that will greet you is the new interface, tiles now replace the previously used sliders on the main menu. It’s a much-needed fresh appearance and is certainly one of the standout features in the game, as the gameplay only has a few minor tweaks and nothing too major. That might sound pretty bad, but you have to remember that the next-gen version promises so much more and EA Sports are clearly onto a winning formula with their gameplay. I would argue that the gameplay is slightly worse than FIFA 13’s.

Strength will assist with taking on defenders.

Strength will assist with taking on defenders.

Focusing on the gameplay more closely, FIFA 14 feels more focused on passing and good build-up play. The over the top through balls may seem a little overused at times, which has been the case for many previous FIFA titles. However, improvements to defending have made them slightly easier to deal with using the pace and strength of attackers who you can tear off the ball. At times, I do question whether shirt pulling plays a big role in defending – especially when you’re running a decent few yards ahead and defenders such as Ferdinand or Kompany pull you back off the ball with ease.

Where pace might have been more effective on FIFA 13, this year’s edition looks to limit its usefulness. Fast players such as Walcott and Ronaldo will still be belting forward towards goal trying to break the line of defence, but defenders will use push and pull to harass players off the ball, even if that means earning a yellow card to prevent a quick counter attack. To sum the gameplay up: defenders are more powerful and track fast runners, whilst attacking requires clever passing and good movement if you want to break teams down.

That isn’t to say the gameplay is unplayable, it’s far from it. You can score some nice goals with the improved passing and shooting mechanics. One unwanted change on my part are the skills, which are now mapped to just the right analogue stick and not combined with the left trigger. I preferred the old skill controls, but EA Sports are always making changes to gameplay and it’s something you have to get on with and adjust to. There was quite a lot of noise about the addition of tactical defending, but everyone took to it quite quickly, admittedly it still needs some refinements, but players will be willing to adjust how they play just because FIFA has the licensing everyone wants.

Got to love a good German team right?

Got to love a good German team right?

Just to experience the cruelness of FIFA 14’s gameplay, I selected Mansfield as my Career mode team, who are in League 2. Lower league players certainly show you the gameplay weaknesses such as poor first touches and poor ball control. Half the time you’ll find yourself chasing after the ball in front of you when you’re trying to dribble with it towards goal. That isn’t to say the gameplay isn’t enjoyable, it’s just something you have to get used to and improve your team over time. It’s no good trying to dribble like Messi with the ball stuck to your feet when you have Akinfenwa at your disposal!

Regular updates throughout your Career fill you in on your progress, and the addition of Jeff Stelling introducing games and taking you through half time only adds to the list of recognised names in the game. I’d personally like to see an addition of new commentators, even though some will argue that there’s a lack of decent British commentators available, but one can still dream of John Motson joining the line-up of commentators one year. The commentators featured do seem to mention players and teams in form more frequently now, which does add to your experience, even though a lot of commentary lines are repeated throughout the same game.

The new Global Scouting Network makes finding gems more difficult.

The new Global Scouting Network makes finding gems more difficult.

The addition of the Global Transfer Network makes scouting players more of a gamble, unless you know of a promising player from previous titles. Overall ratings are no longer displayed though, as you’ll only see a range of their stats if they’re not playing for your team. Form plays a massive part in Career mode and will drive your players’ ratings up, including their price tag. Expect some hefty price tags placed on the world’s best players. Ronaldo won’t be swapping for a Man United shirt without selling a Rooney or van Persie first.

Something I usually pride FIFA for is its selection of songs, however this year it fell a little short. It felt odd coming out to John Newman’s “Love Me Again”. Usually I hear a song throughout the year and think to myself “that will be in FIFA”, but that wasn’t one of them, in fact there wasn’t any song featured that I picked out this year.

Ultimate Team, one of the biggest game modes in FIFA, makes its usual return with new chemistry style cards and the ability to select any kit as your away or home kit. Let’s just say it’s about time you can select any kit you want – it’s always annoyed me not being able to select two of my favourite home kits as my own home and away kit. Other than that, there’s really hardly any change to FUT 14, other than maybe the market which seems to have taken a hit over the transition period to a new football season.

It’s probably fair to say that you’ll be hitting the online modes quicker than anything too. One of the most requested modes for FIFA 14 was Co-op Seasons, which has been introduced to freshen the Seasons mode up, although I’m yet to play this since most of my friends have held off for the Xbox One version, I can’t exactly tell you how it plays, but I played plenty of 2 vs 2 games and I can only imagine that it will play exactly the same, but with divisions to make it feel more competitive.

Nothing like a rivalry!

Nothing like a rivalry!

Then there’s Pro Clubs, which is probably my most played mode on any FIFA title, so don’t expect much to change there if you’re a fan of it. Ultimate Team and Pro Clubs are likely to be the two modes you’ll be spending most of your time on. There does appear to be an issue with Drop-in Matches, the game doesn’t seem to load up correctly and often crashes, in fact I would say that it occurred too much as I only managed to get in and play three games in full without it crashing. Nothing that a future patch can’t fix though. Once again, there are very few changes made and it does leave you asking for more new features to warrant a full retail price tag. If I’m honest, I would hold out for the Xbox One version, which will support outside stadium shots and many more improvements over the 360 version. Hopefully the game’s problems will be fixed by then too, so you’ll have a better experience from launch day on November 22nd.

FIFA 14 will quench your thirst for a new football game for the new season, but it’s starting to get a little tedious now with the lack of gameplay improvements and new ways to push the boundaries. Career mode could do with quite a bit of attention to make it seem more immersive like the acclaimed Football Manager on PC. I’m not saying make it as comprehensive, but add a few more details into it that make it seem more realistic. If you want to get a head start over your friends on Ultimate Team and with your Pro, then you’ll probably be wanting to pick up the 360 before migrating to Xbox One.

Review: FIFA 14
In the area
  • You'll still love playing FIFA
  • Improved shooting mechanics
  • Ultimate Team continues to be addictive
Offside!
  • Repeated commentary lines in same matches
  • A few bugs and online issues
  • First touches and over the top through balls still need refining
82%Overall Score
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About The Author

Jamie is the Editor at Xboxer towers. When he's not messing about in an online game, he's either watching The Walking Dead or purchasing a new wardrobe of clothes, especially print t-shirts. Don't forget the shades!