We’ve come to expect EA Sports to present us with something International themed from the world of football every two years, thus it is time to check out 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil.
Put on your wacky hats, pull a few party poppers and wave foam hands around without a care in the world for the biggest party this summer, the FIFA World Cup in Brazil. In an attempt to capture the samba styled tournament, EA Sports have based an entire football (or soccer) game on it. Considering it’s only out on Xbox 360 will it be able to entice anyone to revert back to the last generation and most importantly will those who have stuck by the console be satisfied?
The main focus from the outset seems to be on single player offline modes as there’s four, with any real depth, on offer to try your hand at. Captain Your Country has been seen before but I’ve always loved the idea of climbing the rankings ladder from a nobody all the way up to becoming the leader of a chosen team. Controlling either a real player or creating your own the goal can be achieved by getting high match ratings and out-performing squad rivals to avoid squad cuts, which leads to become a permanent fixture in the national team.
I created my own guy to use and I found it a good challenge at first, however it’s stretched out too much as I had made the final 23 way ahead of the finals. In fact before the qualifiers began, it took only the International friendly matches to reach the top 18. The highlight became the training sessions after each match (a skill game) where depending how well you do in this out of a selection of rivals you could earn an increase in specific stats. My striker was so poor at passing that that’s all it ever made me attempt, there’s only so many times I can pass a ball into a mini net before it becomes a chore.
Considering that was the part I was most looking forward to, I was genuinely worried where I could invest my time in until the World Cup began. Maybe taking control of the whole team will hold my attention for longer, and so the Road To The FIFA World Cup journey was where I subsequently found myself. This consists of taking a team through friendlies, Qualifiers and if you make it, the World Cup finals in Brazil. There seemed to be more freshness which leads to enjoyment from the fact I could bring up reserves and fringe players early on to give everyone a shot, plus it lets you choose which training skill game would be most beneficial. Playing well during matches is vital in giving players additional form boosts on their stats to then take with them to the main stage.
Nothing is more pleasing than moulding a squad into how you think it should be in comparison to who the actual manager tends to pick. That saw James Milner dropped instantly then! Having 2010 to start from gives plenty of time for this and being the whole team means if it does get boring at times you can try new formations or shift players in/out to see what could happen if someone like Andy Carroll is the focal point.
If you want something that’s over a little bit quicker then 2014 FIFA World Cup mode is the condensed version. It doesn’t matter who you’re favourite team is because as long as they’re in the game they can be swapped in to feature. That lifelong dream of getting, for example, Ethiopia to the finals can finally be a reality.
Story of Qualifying is ideal for a trip down memory lane from the Qualifying campaigns around the world. Reliving scenarios such as the playoff second leg between Sweden and Portugal; take control of Ronaldo to recreate history or try to re-write it by using Zlatan instead to send Sweden through. Each scenario has three objectives to complete and with over 50 to complete from the start plus more to unlock via the catalogue these are great for times when you don’t have long to play.
That’s almost the whole offline side covered except for the basic Kick Off mode, which never changes, and the skill games. These skill games are sponsored by adidas miCoach but they aren’t much different to those ones seen in FIFA 14, with a couple of fresh challenges at most. Still they’re good for honing your abilities especially if you fancy giving manual controls a go; it feels brilliant scoring a volley with no assistance.
Road To Rio De Janeiro will probably be the safest way for anyone to visit all twelve stadiums from this year’s host country. Much like Seasons mode of the usual FIFA games you’ll progress by gaining a certain amount of points or be sent backwards if you don’t earn enough. Instead of Divisions though you go the twelve cities where these stadiums are located, from the first city (Manaus) to the twelfth city (Rio de Janeiro).
Credit where it’s due, they all seem to look like the real stadiums eventually will when the finals come around and as an added bonus you can even see the famous Christ the Redeemer statue outside the Maracana Stadium. To get all the way to the end will take some time so there’s plenty of worth in this mode, except for me, but I’ll explain shortly.
I’m going to skim over Online Friendlies because it’s just a simple match against a friend, in my eyes there’s nothing to play for in this mode apart from maybe a bit of bragging rights. So the last game mode is Online FIFA World Cup which is exactly like the offline version but against real people.
Now I have two issues to vent.
Firstly, they seem to have changed the rules (or it’s a bug which needs fixing!) as no matter where you finish in the group stage it advances your team to the Last 16 round which is utterly pointless. Secondly the matchmaking system for both online modes sucks. I guess I have to take some blame for choosing a half star team, however finding me a similar rated team to face seems to be a massive issue when up pops Spain, Portugal, Germany time after time, just to name a few. I love a challenge, but it’s a bit of a farce when it puts people off using over 50% of the teams because it’ll be ridiculously unfair matching.
It bothers me wholeheartedly seeing what might be the biggest ever selection of International teams and most will get neglected. Those whose home nation isn’t as talented may feel like they cannot use them for fear of meeting opponent after opponent whose team has a 4 star quality difference. I initially enjoyed trying out teams I hadn’t heard of at first with supposed overall 40 rated strikers, even when I was basically out gunned so to speak. After every game though, where the odds are stacked against you, it starts to become a pointless task.
Seeing as this is the “middle-ground” between current FIFA 14 and the next instalment it doesn’t bode too well for the gameplay of the future. The shooting feels off, just like in the demo, where the football doesn’t move the way you’d expect it to. Online I noticed when I eventually succumbed to using a top team I found strong defenders getting pushed off the ball by weak and significantly smaller individuals. Taking that first touch from a pass or an interception leads to completely random decision as to whether it sticks to the feet or is just plain terrible and goes anywhere.
It’s worth noting that if you can stretch out the game to last you till the World Cup kicks off there’ll be even more scenarios added as the events go down in Brazil. I don’t think I could last that long, it might be because we’ve been spoiled with Ultimate Team and Pro Clubs but they’ve brought nothing to the table here that has the same amount of depth or excitement. The only thing I can play with a friend online is those Online Friendlies and although offline you can play up to four players in Captain Your Country, it just isn’t enough. On a positive note, you get to listen to BT Sport commentator Ian Darke and former Soccer AM “legend” Andy Goldstein chat during certain game modes, which is better than hearing songs on a loop for the 100th time (“Men in Blazers” are also available to chat).
Is it worth the full price it currently retails at, £37? I’d have to say a resounding no; it just doesn’t give me the same enjoyable experience I’ve seen most recently in FIFA 14. Wait for a while if you’re eager to play or rent it, if only to see the fanfare and feel the party atmosphere. 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil isn’t a bad game but a boring one that even with the vibrant style has a real lack of substance.