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Game Review: FIFA World Cup 2014

worldcup (easports)

EA Sports World Cup franchise is back after a four year absence as the party moves onto Brazil with enhanced features, befitting of a samba style party.

The modern FIFA games and the World Cup have long co-existed, with the latter serving as a taster ahead of the new club based game since its inception during World Cup 1998. EA Sports has always managed to capture the sense of occasion of a big event and they follow that up here in true World Cup style, akin to that of the three games that came before this title. Though there are tweaks to FIFA’s core mechanics, it’s the presentation that makes 2014 FIFA World Cup a souvenir piece worth bringing home, making it a stand out game among other souvenir games of our generation such as those titles associated with the Olympics or the Champions League.

EA have boosted the number of teams significantly to 203 so you’ll see all the flamboyant celebrations befitting of such a tournament told through the fans of world football, from Ireland to Tahiti and beyond. You’ll also see one Giovanni Trapattoni celebrating on the sideline should the boys in green find the back of the net. Low camera swoops over stadia before games, and cutaway shots to fans following goals and key events bring the excitement from the stadium to your front room while we’re also greeted with live shots of fans celebrating on giant screens across the world.

The new improved menus bask in tropical glows, capturing a level of Samba excitement not seen since last summer’s Confederations Cup. It manages to capture the electric atmosphere of a tournament that’s capable of attracting the attention of casual observers. When the competition begins this June, plenty who claim not to care about football or international football will find themselves drawn into the euphoria that is the World Cup. In many ways that fits with the target audience as this game provides gamers who may not be overly fond with the club game with an opportunity to enhance the experience of watching the tournament and in doing so rewrite history from their couch.

The FIFA franchise has evolved greatly since the 2010 World Cup video game and those who havn’t been exposed to the annual title since may be in for a shock. More realistic physics and animation make for a less intuitive and responsive game of football although the game speed has accelerated since the release of FIFA 14.

The two games are more or less carbon copies but the World Cup title does benefit from a number of adjustments. Penalty taking has been simplified, a welcome feature to most while goalkeepers have more options to distract opponents during their run-up. Set pieces have also seen a revamp as you can now adjust set-piece tactics to put more pressure on the goalie, or guide runners to the near post for flick-ons.

balotelli

Scoring headers has become somewhat easier, provided crosses are as accurate as possible. Gone are the overpowered headers and in its place comes frequently intercepted crosses, often by defenders leaping over the back of your strikers with absolute impunity from referees, a modern day occurrence. Lofted through-balls now require pinpoint accuracy and can often be underhit. Defenders have also improved tracking of such balls and can now read and intercept them with relative ease.

This game also enables fans to guide their team through World Cup qualification, a recent feature of the annual FIFA title that was initially encountered during the 2010 World Cup game. In doing so it allows fans the opportunity to become more entranced with the tournament itself and creates a series far greater than seven games. Gamers will now have the opportunity to qualify through any federation as opposed to the 2010 game which only allowed qualification through UEFA and CONMEBOL groups. New training drills allow players an opportunity to enhance player stats throughout the season while we’re also endeared to the Captain Your Country mode, a slight adaptation of the regular Be A Pro feature.

Story of Qualifying returns again, tasking gamers with replicating and improving on memorable scenarios that littered the qualification process. Tasks include trying to score five goals with England during the final 15 minutes of their Wembley tie with San Marino, completing a late comeback with France after Paul Pogba was sent off against Spain and attempting to break the late Eusebio’s goalscoring record with Cristiano Ronaldo during Portugal’s tie with Northern Ireland.

The Story of Finals feature will also be added during the competition, allowing gamers to play through key moments from Brazil.

Road to Rio de Janeiro serves as the equivalent of Ultimate Team’s seasons modes, allowing you to battle through 12 divisions in the online arena.

EA Talk Radio debuts on this title, affording gamers a choice of two presenting duos who’ll chat about the tournament and the sport in general while you’re navigating the menus. Ex Irish captain Andy Townsend features alongside Clive Tyldesley on regular commentary.

Despite having a brief shelf life, EA have successfully produced another title worth talking about, although some gamers will feel aggrieved that the title is not available on next gen consoles.

Verdict: 7/10

Check out our recent two part special on this summer’s World Cup.

Part One: The Favourites

Part Two: The Dark Horses

Images courtesy of EA Sports

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