While more detailed write-ups will be done in the near future here are brief initial assessments of the three launch day sports games on the PS4 that will also be out for Xbox One this week. Rare is the occasion where several sports games are released on the same day so time with them has been split evenly thus far. It’ll take longer to craft a more complete review for each which they deserve to have.
In terms of being a true next-gen experience NBA 2K14 is flat out phenomenal. The graphics, presentation, and gameplay all reach exceptional levels. The rebooted modes are absolutely refreshing – even if MyGM means a loss of some features and MyCareer is a little silly. The fun I’ve had playing MyCareer while streaming it through the console has gone well beyond any expectations going in. This is the game to get…whether a fan of the NBA or not.
That statement of course is completely dependent on being able to reach the various modes. Server-related issues have caused trouble for many and prevented a significant number of consumers from accessing advertised features. Unreliable online has always been an issue for the series but this goes well beyond that to misrepresenting the product. Chalk it up to making VC an integral part of the series from top to bottom as it has now infected just about every aspect of the game. Many features including online are buried in the horrifically designed menus, online leagues are missing so many options it’s not really viable, and The Park rarely if ever works.
Madden NFL 25
Had this Madden been released in late August many may have been satisfied with it. The problem comes in having played a disappointing 360/PS3 game and then moving up to one here that isn’t dramatically different. The run game is more realistic, the pocket and pass rush look great operate much better, receivers actually try to get two feet in on the sidelines, and the smarter defense makes things much more challenging. The new hardware also means simming through weeks in Franchise is instantaneous. Madden has played spectacularly well online – both in terms of online performance and the general gameplay balance.
Presentation and “Living Worlds” remains a huge disappointment and the graphics don’t near the wow factor of the other sports titles. Some bizarre issues include CPU controlled players hurdling for no reason and defensive backs who suddenly stop in their tracks for a fraction of a second allowing a receiver to separate. There still isn’t a true battle in the air on jump balls and automatic challenges on turnovers and close touchdowns remain notably absent.
On the surface next-gen FIFA 14 doesn’t look a whole lot different from the 360/PS3 version. Yeah, there is the crowd which has far more impact than previously, but otherwise it might seem like a port with better graphics. It’s far from that though. The improvements made have significant influence on how well the game plays and how enjoyable it is.
There are two things that stood out prominently for me based on past frustrations with the series. AI controlled players are much more aggressive in going after the ball rather than how they would often just stand there and let an opponent intercept a pass or reach a ball in space first. The other is the ability to better hold on to possession. Instead of having a defender all over the ball-handler constantly, those defenders can be better maneuvered around and the opponent made to pay for being out of position or taking too many risks.