Editor’s note: FIFA 14 on Xbox One is, in terms of modes, almost identical to the version found on Xbox 360 and PS3. As is the Kinect integration. (Both are better presented, as a matter of course.) This review will focus on the changes to the on-pitch action.
Rebuilt for next-gen using the new Ignite Engine, FIFA 14 doesn’t look drastically different from current-gen. Put a controller in your hands, however, and the changes are surprisingly significant.
Let’s get the graphics out the way first: it is nicer-looking, with improved likenesses, cloth and grass textures. But often you’re too far away from the action to truly notice how much better it looks. What is more apparent is the smoother gameplay. Improvements to the frame-rate mean camera pans and quick transitions in play are handled much better. The only issue I noticed was in Be A Pro, where the game often stuttered when using the Pro camera angle.
All in-game incidents are handled in real-time. There are no more load screens during a match, meaning those repetitive cut-scenes for substitutions are gone. If you choose not to skip moments when the ball is out of play, you can watch corner takers collect it, goalkeepers organise defenders and all the other events you see on a Saturday, from true-to-life camera angles too.
Matches have a much greater flow and sense of control thanks to the increased number of animations, and switching the play is faster thanks to the ability to drill a flat pass. Players now open up their body shape automatically on their approach to strike a ball, changing its flight and removing the chance for defenders to intercept.
Jostling has better balance, too. There are fewer over-exaggerated pushes off the ball; players engage in a prolonged to-and-fro in battles for possession, taking pace and momentum into account. The ability to ride sliding tackles means that challenges must be near-perfect to win possession.
Current-gen FIFA had over-powered bigger athletes, and while this is still a problem, the ability for more than two players to challenge aerial balls slightly alleviates it. However, Marouane Fellaini is still almost impossible to win possession from.
All in all, this is an improved version of what's gone before. The new lick of paint is nice, but it’s the changes under the hood that make the significant difference.
Version Tested: Xbox One. Played for 7 hours.