In 1995 I was 14, not much happened that year as far as I can remember apart from Toy Story being the film of the year (yes, Toy Story is 19 years old!). The other thing I do remember was the first year I played a FIFA game. It was FIFA 95 (obviously) and I played it on my mates Megadrive. Apart from the obvious changes going on in my life, I knew that things would never be the same.
Things have come along way since my first 3 button foray into the world of FIFA games and the latest title is FIFA World Cup Brazil. Unless you’ve been living under a rock, or in the Antarctic, you will be aware of a small football competition called the World Cup that’s happening in… yes, Brazil this summer. Now, I have played or owned every FIFA game since FIFA 95 and until now I have never reviewed one in anger. It has been a part of my gaming life for so long I have never thought about not buying the latest edition year on year. My worry was that if I started pulling it apart for reviewing purposes, would I ever be the same again? Luckily it is rather good – even for a souvenir game with limited shelf life.
Why does it have limited shelf life? Well at the moment everyone is slowly getting excited about the World Cup, me included. The domestic season’s conclusion is fast approaching and instead of looking forward to a Scot at Wimbledon, we have more football on the horizon. But as soon as the World Cup is over the lure of playing a World Cup game will diminish as quickly as England’s hope of getting anywhere near the final. EA knows this, which I presume is why it is not being launched on PS4 or Xbox One. It is also why it’s more of a FIFA 14.2 rather than a FIFA 15 showcase. Although, it is more than a yellow and green branded rehash.
Don’t get me wrong the game is draped in colour and has a slightly annoying samba theme tune that won’t have you dancing round the house, more like reaching for the mute button. These things are expected and doesn’t offend too much, the menu screens are reminiscent of previous FIFA games, and if you know your way round you shouldn’t encounter too many issues. You can choose to go directly to the World Cup as it will be played in a couple of months, which is my favourite as you are essentially fast forwarding to the main event. You can jump straight into an exhibition match or start the road to the World Cup from scratch. Another feature is ‘captain you country mode’ that sees you fight for the captain’s armband with your teammates, and concentrates more on individual achievements as well as team success.
The game does feel different to FIFA 14, which I guess it would as it has had some tweaks to the player movement on and off the ball, along with a refinement of some of the passing and shooting elements. I didn’t find the look and feel of the game any worse for being on the PS3, in fact, due to the changes in gameplay it feels more spritely and slightly easier to play. The crowds are rubbish as they always have been on the last gen consoles, and the cutscenes to the fan parks celebrating you losing is a bit odd. The goalkeepers are still too good, but at least the saves are more varied and the resulting follow up play is more random. Passes can go in the wrong direction, and even in Pro mode you can dribble past several players without too much difficulty.
EA have managed to create the sense of occasion within the game, and the on screen graphics matching TV coverage is the type we will find from the UK’s BBC and ITV channels. The stadiums are true to life; well at least what Brazil hopes they will be like, as half of them are not finished yet. The best addition for me is the talk radio which plays before and after matches. There are over 50 hours of pre-recorded material that discusses your past performances and what you need to do in the next game. It’s a little geeky, but as I listen to TalkSport a lot it adds another level of realism for me.
When all is said and done if you like FIFA football games you will like FIFA World Cup Brazil. It gives a good account of itself and with some of the tweaks and tournament specific additions, it does a good job of promoting the World Cup. You can play this as a standalone title, but come the full time whistle of the World Cup final you will be looking forward to the release date of FIFA 15.
A PlayStation 3 review copy was provided by the EA PR team. 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil is out now on PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360.