Game Review: 2014 FIFA World Cup
The World Cup is right around the corner and that can only mean one thing: a new FIFA game! Since 1998 EA has been releasing an additional World Cup exclusive FIFA game everytime the tournament rolls around. For fans of the series, it not only gives us another fresh FIFA to play, but it also offers us something new. There are new game modes, better graphics, and a generally different game experience. 2014 FIFA World Cup is the excellent soccer game FIFA 14 should have been.
You may not have heard of the FIFA World Cup series, and with good reason. Unlike the annual FIFA club series, the FIFA World Cup games only come out a few months before the actual World Cup tournament. Basically, this means we only ever get one of these games every four years. And with all the hype around the tournament itself, the spring release date, and the competition from the main FIFA franchise, this game tends to get buried in the news cycle. Still, this is real treat for diehard FIFA fans. You essentially get two FIFA games in one year. For casual fans, it gives you an opportunity to learn more about international soccer, something the FIFA series doesn’t prioritize. And for those of us disillusioned with FIFA 14, this game acts as an olive branch and a promise of things to come.
Let’s start with the game modes, as this is the biggest difference between FIFA 14 and World Cup. FIFA 14 had all the standard modes we’ve become accustomed to: kickoff, manager mode, pro-mode, ultimate team, etc. World Cup has eight different game modes, each of them slightly different to the standard FIFA series, and some completely unique. Kickoff is obviously the same – you can’t have a sports game without a head-to-head mode after all. However, instead of manager mode you have “Road to the World Cup”, which allows you to take control of any FIFA sanctioned team and lead them to glory. You can’t buy and sell players like in manager mode, but you do pick from a list of players with the corresponding nationality. Obviously this gives some of the stronger soccer nations, like Spain or France, more room for customization with more players in the game to choose from. Still, there is something so satisfying about taking a tiny team all the way from total obscurity to the final of the biggest tournament in the world.
“Captain your Country” is FIFA’s pro-mode, just with international teams instead of clubs. You have the same functionality, game mechanics, and features as before. Basically, you create a character and work your way up to Captain through good match performances. A few of the kinks from FIFA 14 have been worked out, but all-in-all it’s still pretty much the same mode as before. The last local game mode in 2014 FIFA World Cup is “Story of Qualifying”. This is a challenge mode where you are put into real life scenarios that happened during World Cup Qualifying. You are given challenges to complete with off and online rewards if you win.
“Road to Rio de Janeiro” is an interesting game mode completely unique from anything in the standard FIFA series. In this online mode, you basically play your way through all of Brazil’s stadiums until you reach the Maracanã (where the final game will be held). This is one of three online modes in 2014 FIFA World Cup. “Online FIFA World Cup” is an oldie but goodie. This game mode was introduced in the 2010 FIFA World Cup game. It’s basically like any online tournament game: you pick your team, get sorted into a group with three other players, win as many games as you can, and keep advancing until you reach the final. It’s fun and simple. The final online mode is “Story of Finals”. This mode won’t start until the tournament itself. Basically, it is “Story of Qualifying” except for the tournament instead of the qualifying stage. As games are completed live, you can go online and replay them yourself with challenges mixed in for good measure.
These modes offer new and exciting gameplay that you just don’t get from any in standard FIFA series. Simply put, when a game comes out every year it’s easy to get jaded. Basically, you only buy new sports games because of the updated rosters and graphics; you don’t expect anything revolutionary from the gameplay. 2014 FIFA World Cup can give you that because there is more time to create new ideas and develop a complete product.
This brings me to my next point: the four year time gap allows the 2014 FIFA World Cup game to be far superior in gameplay to the standard franchise. Everything about this game is better than FIFA 14: the graphics, the physics, the AI – all of it. I played four games last night and lost all of them, and I was happy. I was happier losing those games than I was winning in FIFA 14, all because the AI beat me fair and square. They passed me to death, they unsettled me with clever tactics, and they took intelligent high-percentage shots. It felt real. No impossibly talented Messis on every team, no omnipotent Maldinis snatching at your every move – just solid passing and clever tactics. Just about my every gripe with FIFA 14 has been resolved with 2014 FIFA World Cup. Even physics and lag problems have been fixed (mostly). The only explanation I have for this phenomenon is the extra five months gave EA the time they needed to produce a quality product.
2014 FIFA World Cup has all of the good parts of FIFA 14, none of the bad, and some sweet new modes to boot. Anyone who enjoys the FIFA franchise, is a fan of international soccer, or frustrated with EA should check this game out. It really is that good.
Released: April 15, 2014