The FIFA 14 demo was released on the 10th of September on all the three major gaming platforms. As always, there was an exciting build-up to the release with people waiting all night for it.
For the first time ever, I personally got up an hour before my alarm clock wakes me up for school, and put it up for download. After 6 hours of getting grilled by various teachers, I was able to lay my hands on it.
Let’s have a look at some of the new features of FIFA 14 -
- PURE SHOT - Players have the intelligence to adjust their stride and approach angle to find the best position for hitting the back of the net.
- PRECISION MOVEMENT - Now every step counts as players plant, pivot, cut, and shift momentum with the agility and explosiveness of real footballers.
- REAL BALL PHYSICS - Realistic ball physics now determines the trajectories of balls in the game, enabling players to strike the ball with force from distance or drill low rising shots with accuracy.
- PROTECT THE BALL - Protect the ball from opponents to control play through midfield and dictate the tempo of the match.
- TEAMMATE INTELLIGENCE - Better decision-making delivers tighter, smarter marking and improved run tracking.
From my experience, I’ll quickly run down a thorough analysis on all the features -
First off, pure shot. I really like this feature, which is probably one of the best.
In FIFA 13, while facing the goal, players had ample time to go through the shooting animation and have a shot while not under pressure from the goalkeeper or defenders. However, it was nowhere near realistic when the same kind of shooting animation took place with two or 3 defenders around him.
This time around, it’s different. See how the player taking the shot is forced to claw the ball out from the ground after being pressurized well and an attempted block is made.
If we have a look at such a situation in real life, the player will be unbalanced, thus forcing him into executing an awkward looking shot that has very little chance of ending at the back of the net. That’s exactly what EA has tried to do.
Such a situation in FIFA 13 would be different. Despite the pressure , the player will gracefully unleash a shot, and in a worst case scenario, be fouled. What pure shot does, is that it edges the game closer to realism. The days where it looked somewhat pretty are over. It’s all about successfully emulating the real beautiful game.
Next up, we have precision movement. It is a new locomotion technology that helps recreate real life pitch movement. According to EA, they have been working on it for the past two years, and its core philosophy revolves around momentum and acceleration.
Acceleration is going to be one of the most fundamental elements behind a well worked goal. However, this is one of the main reasons why people have called the game sluggish. The fact is, the game no longer relies on a lot of pace.
To explain it further, let’s take an example set in FIFA 12 or 13. If you were, say, controlling a player who is as pacy as Gareth Bale, then you would be able to sprint all the way towards the opposition penalty box from yours and end up scoring a goal by continuously holding the sprint button. This is, sadly, the horrific truth.
That however made the game fun. With precision movement coming into play, you need to be careful when you sprint and when you don’t. The game heavily relies on a perfect balance between strength and pace. In FIFA 13′s Ultimate team for example, people usually bought players with pace. This would help an average team have a good chance against a really good team.
EA’s answer to this is a game that feels sluggish at the start, but becomes more than bearable at the end. The game is making a gradual transition from being fun to being a challenge. It’s the only way the game can aim towards realism rather than being just a ‘fun game’.
In EA’s own words about precision movement -
“The most immediate difference in FIFA 14 is how the pace of the game has changed. Precision Movement acts as the foundation and works in harmony with Teammate Intelligence and Protect the Ball, resulting in a more realistic and organic build-up throughout each play. “
Moving on to real ball physics. This is another area which has come under heavy criticism, as people have made many complaints about poor first touches.
However, the blame partly falls on precision movement as well. The system of receiving the ball has changed. If you are to make a nice touch, you can’t receive the ball while running right at it.
In FIFA 13, EA aimed to tackle it by introducing first touch control. Balls would now move far away from you if you were to hold the sprint button and receive it.
However, players could receive it, and then hold the sprint button to move away from that particular area. Real ball physics affects this and makes it harder.
You have to now use the complete dribbling feature, which was also introduced in FIFA 13 , to time your movement perfectly while receiving the ball.
It is much harder to receive the ball in the air now, especially when under pressure. For me, this provides a challenge, which at times can be frustrating, but is also the reason I would want to perfect my game.
Another part of real ball physics is it improves the trajectory of the ball and plays a vital part in improving pure shot. When unleashing a shot, you can clearly see the swerve and dip if you were to hit instant replay.
Apart from that, it has done a really good job on making defensive clearances, through balls, over the top lobs and crosses more realistic. I can definitely highlight the defensive clearances part through a personal experience.
In FIFA 13, when the defender you are playing as, is at the penalty box and is facing his own goalpost while being under huge pressure from the attackers, all you need to do is press the lob button and aim behind you.
This would trigger the lob animation, and the player would clear it. The fun part about it is that the clearance would go across the half way line and once again be elegant, as if the forward pressurizing you has suddenly stopped.
In FIFA 14, instead of showing a clear animation, the player stumbles when you attempt to clear it back when the ball is on the ground level.
If the ball is in mid air, he attempts an over-head kick, with the ball travelling a few meters and not halfway across the pitch in both cases. Moreover, it is much safer to clear it sideways than aim for the back, as you could risk having the ball nicked away from you.
Next, we have protect the ball. FIFA 14, as mentioned earlier, no longer relies completely on pace. You need strength as well. This directly equates to the fact that the Messis and Neymars are going to have a harder time against the Vidics and Terrys.
There are two ways how ‘protect the ball’ can be used. One, while accelerating at top speed, you can put yourself in between the pressurizing defender and the ball. This would help you keep the ball while at the same time, allow you to keep it going at the same speed.
Another scenario is when you’re looking to pass it to your forward, who in turn is using his strength attributes to put himself between the ball and the defender trying to mark him. He can receive the ball and either use precision movement to get away from that area, or bring other players into play.
To summarize, ‘protect the ball’ is basically another way to keep hold of possession and dictating the tempo at will.
Finally, we have teammate intelligence. It is not something I have much to comment on, but the feature has a direct effect on both defending and attacking.
In attacking, when combined with protect the ball, it can open up holes that help create much more opportunities. Players will make much better runs, giving you more opportunities to score and create chances.
When it comes to defence, defenders are much better at tracking back and pressurizing. Upon playing the demo, you can instantly realise that the AI is more willing to get stuck in by tackling and pressurizing right when you receive the ball. EA has given an example on how they have revamped the man-marking system:
This is pretty much all I understood after playing 15-20 games on how EA have tried to improve the game from last year’s edition.
The FIFA gaming community is divided into two. One side cries for realism, while the other prefers the fun part over it. The realists have something to look forward to this year, as EA rebuilds its entire game-play system.
The game isn’t easy, it’s quite challenging. You actually need to know what to do at specific situations to master it. This is the main reason why many have complained about the new features.
The fact that they are not willing to get settled into the realistic features and make it more ‘fun’ oriented, points out to the fact that they have had it easy so far. I’m in no way enunciating that the game is perfect, but EA is trying to bring a realistic experience of the beautiful game in our hands.
It’s not boring. It’s harder and more challenging. You need to step up your game, and improve your quality. Exciting times lie ahead, as the world awaits the game’s release.
What are your thoughts on the game? Leave a comment, tweet it to me and let me know!