EA Sports has released their newest FIFA soccer game 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil for both XBox 360 and Playstation 3, a modification of their FIFA 14 engine to fit in elements of the upcoming FIFA World Cup. I was lucky enough to get ahold of a review copy of the game. Once I was able to snag a PS3 to go along with it (a few eBay auctions later), I sat down to play what historically has been my favorite version of the FIFA series.
My favorite mode thus far as been Story of Qualifying, but it's not a beginner mode. When I first fired up the game it was set on beginner and I launched into USA vs Mexico. This is when I discovered that if you've ever played FIFA before, beginner is essentially practice mode. The other team will simply stand there as you work out how to do the new special dribbles and stuff.
Story of Qualifying is a scenarios mode with qualification match sets from over sixty scenarios with more county specific scenarios that can be unlocked in the store. There's also going to be an online Story of Finals mode once the tournament starts which will be updated daily.
That's just me though, I like the infotainment side of these games. It gives me a chance to see what qualifying was like for countries around the world, what stories came out of it, without having to do a full tournament with every team. Of course, that's not the main attraction of a game like this.
No the big enchilada is Road the FIFA World Cup mode, which I'm also going through with the US. It's the most immersive qualifying tournament FIFA has ever put into a World Cup game, with 203 national teams and qualifying that begins with the friendlies after the 2010 World Cup. Rosters are deep enough to do a full B-Team friendly. Uniform sets are deep too, with the kits worn during qualification, the new World Cup kits, and even some historical kits that can be unlocked.
The United States has their World Cup kits, the Qualification striped set, the throwback inspired alternate, and an historic sash kit that can unlocked through the store. Jurgen Klinsmann is one of 19 officially licensed managers, so his image and name are in the game. There are 21 new stadiums, and although the US have a generic as their home it does include all 12 Brazilian stadiums as well as the usual suspect national stadiums.
I've only had a limited amount of time with FIFA 14, so how many animations are completely new to 2014 FIFA World Cup is not something I can answer. It took me a few days to get passing accuracy, shot direction, crossing, things of that nature down, but once I did the animation package was smooth enough that this was a step up from 2002 FIFA World Cup - also known as the great soccer computer game ever made.
The big glaring bug that needs fixing is the offside rule. Hopefully there's a patch coming, but it really hurts the flow of the game. If you attempt a pass to an offside player, the ref will call offside no matter what actually happens. Defender stops the ball? Offside. Defender intercepts and then that offside player tracks back to make a recovery? Offside. Ball sails over an offside player's head to an onside player? You get the idea.
Still, there's so much I like. The menus for Road the World Cup have a choice of talk radio for either Ian Darke and Andy Goldstein or Men in Blazers. They recorded 50 hours of audio that's like a fun podcast in the background as you navigate the menus. Once you actually get to Brazil, which I've been saving, there will be cutaways to fans back home after goals. Score a goal with England, and it'll cut to fans cheering in Trafalgar Square.
There's a lot of input from adidas on this game. They worked with EA Sports on ball physics for the Brazuca, and balls from every World Cup are available in the store - including the classic Telstar. The training mini-games, which helped me get a handle on how passing worked without targeting turned on, are adidas micoach branded. It would be cool if you got micoach style data out of these games, but alas you don't.
I've had fun with it. And in the end, that's pretty much the point of entertainment.