2014 FIFA World Cup Impressions

Posted April 22nd, 2014 at 2:15 pm


2014 FIFA World Cup is a difficult game to properly assess. It offers up a compelling experience, something the every-four-years edition has become known for, but one that will feel notably old-gen to those who played FIFA 14 on Xbox One or PlayStation 4. 

I’ve long been vocal in my appreciation of 2010 FIFA World Cup which was one of my favorite games of the last generation and up there for many others as evidenced by its strong run in the “Best of” tournament late last year. It offered accessibility – acting as a bridge to the yearly FIFA series – and the ability to be a part of a shared worldwide event involving every nation (all of which were licensed). Presentation and atmosphere were outstanding and among the modes included was what would later become known as the popular “Online Seasons”.

Anticipation was high for what many expected to be a launch on the Xbox One and PS4 (even EA Sports initially stated it would be out for those consoles). Unfortunately that wouldn’t come to fruition and EA released it only on the Xbox 360 and PS3. Hype was significantly dampened but the product being offered remained strong.

There’s an unavoidable conflict in trying to evaluate the merits of 2014 FIFA World Cup. Once again the presentation and atmosphere are excellent and unique, and the modes deliver sufficient content. There’s no avoiding comparisons to late last year’s FIFA 14 however on XB1/PS4. In that regard, technical limitations are obvious, and gameplay takes a step back returning numerous frustrations that had been addressed.

The depth of content is certainly there. The modes are well executed and compelling. Whether it’s playing through the entire qualifying process, only the World Cup tournament, Captain Your Country (essentially a version of Be a Pro), or the Story of Qualifying/Finals which brings in scenarios to play through based on the real happenings – offline there is plenty to do. There is no Ultimate Team here but World Cup content will be coming to FIFA 14’s UT later this spring. Online once again features a spin on the Online Seasons with Road to Rio De Janeiro and a World Cup tournament.

Gameplay is fast, and turning it down may be one of the first things that should be done with the game, but it’s also part of the charm. World Cup isn’t attempting to be as faithful to simulation as the yearly FIFA franchise. It’s higher paced leading to more opportunities to score. That doesn’t mean scores get out of hand but novices will feel like they have a better chance at least to get on the board and have some level of success – and have fun doing it.

Still, falling back onto the old consoles has only magnified the advancements seen in FIFA 14. Though FIFA 14 on XB1/PS4 was not perceived as a huge jump in graphics it certainly appears more dramatic having gone from that one to World Cup. Aspects such as framerate suffer as well. Gameplay is hampered by long-running issues like a lack of aggressiveness to the ball by AI controlled teammates. They’ll just stand there and let opposing players capture possession. That’s an area improved upon significantly with the game on the new systems.

The presentation is great, and the atmosphere and audio once again wrap you up in the moment in a way most other sports games can not. Touches like the cuts to the fans in their home countries and the crowd reaction shots in cut scenes (or simply seeing them in the background) has quite the impact. The new talk radio may not get super specific but it’s a fantastic listen during time spent in the menus and contributes to the narrative as the modes progress.

Online play has been nothing short of perfect. In no match has any lag been experienced even when playing opponents in countries half way around the world. Unfortunately this World Cup game favors the ultra-aggressive. Opponents give no room to breathe and it’s difficult if not even possible to make them pay for it consistently. As soon as your player receives the ball he gets molested and it’s difficult to keep possession because of it with far too few fouls called.

The value is definitely there for 2014 FIFA World Cup – particularly for those who have not moved on to the new systems or haven’t played the FIFA series recently – however its a tough sell for everyone else. There’s no way to avoid that sense of disappointment for anyone going backwards to play it but for those that can get past that there’s a great game to enjoy. It’s just especially unfortunate that the new generation will be waiting another four years that same experience.