Every year EA release their latest iteration of FIFA with the promise of something revolutionary. Often, such promises are simply a means of getting gamers to spend their hard-earned money for something that’s really only different on the surface, and an increment in the year on the cover. Every two years EA also release a second, stand-alone game to commemorate the Euro and World Cup tournaments. This year’s 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil is one such filler-game that promises quite a lot, as is the norm, but does it do enough to dispel the pessimistic view more and more people have for the title?
One of the first big disappointments for gamers owning the ‘next-gen’ consoles is that 2014 FIFA WC is only available PS3 and Xbox 360. This already means that some of the updated features from FIFA 14 on the PS4 and Xbox One, such as the physics system, are missing. For those who have purchased the previous title on the previous-generation consoles will notice that EA have at least, in some part, updated a few aspects of the game, with new passing, shooting and player jostling. These updates, however, have their limitations, none more so than when defending. While it may, at times, be easy for bigger teams’ star strikers to run straight through opposition defenders, it seems highly unlikely that their strikers can do the same…but it does. This is something that EA have made large strides toward on the PS4 and Xbox One.
But this is a World Cup edition of FIFA, so it’s meant to be fun, rather than precise and revolutionary. In all honesty, 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil provides quite a lot of fun. The game offers intense build up to each game, from players walking onto the field singing their respective national anthems, and even the occasional cut-scene to each countries’ fan parks as fans celebrate goals and victories. On the odd occasion, you may even be lucky enough to be in the presence of the virtual Sepp Blatter, who attends the more high-profile games. A few additional player celebrations have been thrown in, some of which make no sense at all that I have yet to witness on a football pitch. Apart from your standard World Cup mode, 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil also brings with it Captain Your Country and Road to the FIFA World Cup. While the tournament itself only last seven games, these two gaming options add more depth, giving buyers a little more value for their money. Captain Your Country gives you control of a single player, the captain, as you battle your way through qualification and the World Cup itself. Road to the FIFA World Cup offers a more comprehensive experience, which not only takes you through qualifying, but each of the friendlies in between matches, as well as the occasional training day.
Other game modes include:
- Road to Rio de Janeiro: Compete online across each of Brazil’s 12 host cities (stages) and over 200 official FIFA registered countries.
- Online FIFA World Cup: Compete online with your country of choice with 31 other players.
- Story of Qualifying: Play more than 60 different scenarios that actually occurred during the qualifying stages on the road to the World Cup.
- Story of Finals (online): This feature activates when the World Cup kicks off in June. Challenges will be released based on World Cup events on the day.
- Additional Modes: 2014 FIFA World Cup, Kick Off, Skill Games, Online Friendlies, EA SPORTS Football Club
The experience of playing such a title far outweighs the intricacies of gameplay, almost as if you were watching your team participate in the World Cup. One of my favourite additions to the game, which provides a more realistic World Cup experience, is the option between two radio station commentaries for each mode. While in-game, you will still be provided with the same commentary of Clive Tyldesley and Andy Townsend, but during navigation menu breaks, which have EA Sports Radio, including that of Andy Goldstein and Ian Darke, or Michael Davies and Roger Bennett (Men in Blazers). Visual presentation and animations also play a large role in the overall experience. Menus have typically been spruced up with the tropical colours of Brazil, with Samba-esque animations to mimic the carnival atmosphere. There’s no doubt that 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil is a step backward from the FIFA 14 title on the next-gen consoles. For those still gaming on PS3 and Xbox 360, there have been adequate amount of changes to justify the release of the title, even ignoring the World Cup theme. That been said, this is a World Cup release, and with that, the title should be viewed as something totally separate from the lineage of the annual FIFA 14 release. Once you’ve played through the few gaming modes, and once the World Cup 2014 fever has died down somewhat, I can’t see many gamers continuing to play, as the game is based primarily on that hype, and little on actual gameplay. It’s fun while it lasts. And with the World Cup final still over two months away, you can experience the thrill of your team winning the ultimate prize at Rio’s Estadio do Maracana, long before they take to the field.