The FIFA World Cup; it’s the most prestigious competition in world football that comes around every four years, seeing countries from all around the globe send their most talented squads to compete in a tournament to be hailed the very best team. Whilst the most recent event in Russia could be considered a major success as far as the mighty England – my team – are concerned, the previous FIFA World Cup in Brazil was disastrous for the Three Lions, going out with a whimper.
But enough about them, for we are gathered here today to look back on the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil video game tie-in some five years after it was released. Was it the best way to immerse ourselves in the samba style tournament, or did the on-field action end up eclipsing its gaming counterpart entirely?
The 2014 FIFA World Cup finals kicked off on 12 June, 2014 and delivered a goal-fest of a tournament, especially when Germany decimated the hosts in the semi-final – a real master class in how not to defend from Brazil. For a neutral, the excitement was high, full of incidents and the occasional shock result only helped matters. Two months prior to this though, 17th April to be exact, EA Sports released 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil for Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3; opting not to launch on the latest generation of consoles. EA explained that the decision to avoid Xbox One and PlayStation 4 was due to the majority of the global market sticking with the previous console generation.
Nevertheless, 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil arrived on the scene with all the tools to help it be a success. There were a whopping 200+ teams included, ensuring every official FIFA nation who competed in the qualification process was represented; from the big hitters like Argentina, France, and Germany, to the minnows of Bangladesh, Chad, and Tajikistan. Even the 12 stadiums that hosted the matches were featured and had been wonderfully recreated, with the Maracana Stadium being a real standout courtesy of the presence of the famous Christ the Redeemer statue. The game also boasted a decent selection of game modes on paper, but that’s where the cracks began to show.
You see, one of the major draws of 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil was expected to be the Captain Your Country mode, but instead it sorely lacked in substance and allowed staleness to creep in far too swiftly. Rising through the ranks as a created character seemed rushed and the pre-match training rituals became repetitive. Fortunately, it’s possible to take an entire country through the qualification and finals stage in Road to the FIFA World Cup, which enables you to play as the whole team and choose the players that best suit your style – also offering the chance to drop the overrated and under talented folk that don’t deserve a spot on the plane to Brazil.
Even factoring in the scenario type Story of Qualifying mode and the Online FIFA World Cup options, there isn’t much that hasn’t been seen before. What hindered its cause further was having nothing to rival the FIFA series’ most popular game modes: Ultimate Team and Pro Clubs. Without these, it struggled to keep the player base hooked in long enough for the tournament to begin; as an ardent FIFA fan, it barely lasted me a month. But it wasn’t a case of being put off by anything terrible, 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil was just boring in truth.
The gameplay didn’t help because on the whole it felt far too similar to FIFA 14 and the minor changes that were made weren’t included for the betterment of the experience. The player physics baffled me, with powerhouse defenders getting outmuscled by much weaker opponents as an example. Then, for some reason, EA tinkered with the shooting and turned would-be power-blasters into floaty shots that looked pathetic and unrealistic. The lack of nuances in the gameplay meant layers might as well have reverted back to FIFA 14 once they’d tried each mode a few times.
Unfortunately 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil marked the end of EA’s long-running series of standalone games based on the FIFA World Cup, which started way back in 1998 with World Cup 98. As a result, the only content seen in relation to the 2018 FIFA World Cup hosted by Russia was in the form of a free update to FIFA 18. To be fair, the addition of a World Cup focused Ultimate Team mode as well as themed Kick-Off and a specialised tournament offering was a good call. Costing nothing, whilst providing new content, is always going to be a winner, instead of over-promising on a separate release and suffering criticism once more. It’s akin to Gareth Southgate succeeding Roy Hodgson and Sam Allardyce in many ways.
That being said, with the main FIFA games often failing in the longevity department in recent years, I’d personally love a full World Cup game in 2022 with the hopes that the developers have had plenty of time to conjure up fresh ideas to tide football fans over till their next regular instalment. Is that something you’d like to see? What did you think of 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil and the decision to hold it back on the older generation of consoles?
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