E3 2013: FIFA 14 Next-Gen Hands-On Preview – A Small Step For Man, A Giant Step for Football Games
Written Friday, June 21, 2013 By Dan WebbView author's profile
Ever since FIFA 09 I’ve been an ardent FIFA player, having jumped ship from Konami’s once lauded PES franchise. FIFA 09 was more than just a yearly update from EA Sports, it was a monstrous step forward for the franchise. In subsequent years though, we’ve really only seen incremental updates. Things like the Player Impact Engine, first touch control and 360° dribbling have been included in recent iterations and although great additions, they’ve not really had a game-defining impact. FIFA next-gen is set to change all that once again.
Thus far you’ve heard the usual PR spiel - we’re doing this, we’re doing that - and in years gone by you’ve heard so much of it that it almost doesn’t mean anything any more. But let me tell you, as someone who plays FIFA almost religiously every Saturday night before we hit the town, it’s going to feel like FIFA 09 all over again.
The three pillars of FIFA 14 are: living worlds; human intelligence; and player motion. What that means in laymen’s terms is that the stadiums will feel much more alive and unique, with more character models for fans and crowd mosaics being implemented, while the AI will be more intelligent and the player engine – both animations and functionality – has been improved in more than one way.
From a hands-on standpoint though, how do the three pillars stand up? Well, surprisingly well. Firstly, the living worlds comes across in various different lights, all of which help create a more immersive environment. Whether you’re talking about the pre-game mosaics or the camera flashing to the crowd at various intervals, it all makes it feel much more like the beautiful game that we all see on TV.
FIFA 14 is said to have “human like awareness” and while it was almost impossible to tell whether that was the case in our relatively short hands-on, the human like reactions and, what EA Sports are calling “pro instincts,” is very much a big part of what makes FIFA 14 feel like a giant step forward than an incremental step.
Players now ride challenges more freely, anticipate the actions of other players and brace for impact, and more importantly, act like you or I would on the field of play. Ever been annoyed that players take that needless touch when someone plays you a through ball on FIFA, rather than stepping over it and using the pace of the ball to run onto it? Well, fear not, that’s now a thing of the past. Thankfully heading has been reworked now too, and not only can more than two players go up to win the ball, but players can flick headers, glance headers and have more control over what they do with their head. You can even finesse header now. This isn’t stuff we’ve read off a press release either; this is all stuff we had experienced in game.
Another neat addition is controlling balls on your chest. No longer is it a canned animation to bring the ball to your feet, now you can chest a ball effectively where you want. Want to back into a player and then chest it over them to run on to? Now you can. Want to chest it back towards where the ball came from to make more space? Now you can. Want to chest it up to bicycle kick it? Now you can. It’s a simple addition, but that along outside of the foot passes and the aforementioned “pro instincts” that allows players to react more like real-life, they all make such a difference to the minute-to-minute gameplay that they feel like some of the best additions they’ve made in years.
With the new generation of consoles comes a lot of questions: how will the current and next-gen versions differ? Will it make a difference to the minute-to-minute gameplay? Is it worth waiting? All we know for now is that the next-gen version of FIFA is set to be a bit of a doozy and I personally can’t wait for it!
FIFA 14 for current gen consoles is scheduled in its usual September window, while next-gen is scheduled for launch later on in the year.