Review: 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Is Chocolate-Covered Mediocrity
There are a few things that happen every four years - presidential elections (except in South Africa), major sporting events, February 29 and cancer regressions but only one of those things has the power to unite nations and spawn licensed tie-in video games.
- Worth The Time?It's the best World Cup offering to date and has some inventive challenge modes which football fans will adore. However, there's no reason to really give this a try apart from that.
- Things LovedVibrant menus, great challenge modes based on real life, slightly improved player AI. Crowd is livelier and game runs a little smoother and faster.
- Things HatedIt's still FIFA 14 underneath. Suffers from sluggish gameplay.
- RecommendationFootball fans will enjoy it but find little reason to stay with it when you already have FIFA 14.
- Name: 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil
- Genre: Sport
- Players: 1-7
- Multiplayer: Local, Online
- Platforms: Xbox 360, PS3
- Developer: EA Canada
- Publisher: EA Sports
- Price: R615
- Reviewed On: Xbox 360
The FIFA World Cup is such a curious creature. The 2014 and 2010 editions were both plagued by issues on the part of the host nation in stadium construction, infrastructure and general organisation. Not to mention the virtually non-existent faith in FIFA as a fair organisation. None of it matters because as soon as the opening ceremony is under way everybody forgets those problems for a month.
It shouldn’t happen but it does, such is the power of a football world cup. Now, if only the gaming industry had a similar way to temporarily wipe away our memories. Something that also happened to take place during June. Oh well.
It’s amazing how quickly time has passed since 2010 but here we are on the edge of another World Cup and amidst the whirlwind that ensues, EA is hoping we’ll forget what a mess FIFA 14 was on PS3 and Xbox 360 with the idea that we’ll pick up the World Cup version of the game.
To detail the problem you should probably read our review of FIFA 14. Actually, don’t go anywhere. Long story short, FIFA 14 on Xbox One and PS4 is great but the lesser version on the old consoles feels like that version with bits and pieces stripped away.
So what exactly is this game besides FIFA 14 with a longer name? Basically just that. It’s FIFA 14 by another, more elaborate name. It’s FIFA 14 in a fashionable scarf and wearing the sort of makeup that classy escorts wear. I feel as if I should say FIFA 14 one more time.
Also, this name is so clunky that you could rearrange most of the words and it would still make sense.
This is the game you’re used to but with a snappier menu design, arguably better game modes and slightly sharper gameplay. Also, since we’re restricted to national teams there’s none of that finicky and oft nonsensical transfer system.
The first thing you’ll notice, unless you’re a mole, is the slick new user interface. It’s exactly like the old one except a lot more vibrant and colourful. This is a good thing, trust me.
Then we get to the game modes.
There’s your standard Kick-off, Captain Your Country and Manager Mode. Wait! I can captain my country at the World Cup? Yes, sir. Yes, you can. However, you’re going to need to earn your spot in the starting team, perform well to raise your rank in the squad and partake in training exercises. Oh and if you find any area of your game to be lacking, you can focus on that in training. Just don’t waste your time on diving, the South Americans have it down to a science.
There a number of ways to approach the World Cup as a manager. You can start right at the outset, compiling your squad from the national pool, going through a few years of qualifying matches and finally reaching the World Cup Finals in Brazil. Alternatively the attention deficit among you might prefer to collect $200 from Sepp Blatter and skip straight to the start of the Finals in Brazil.
Captaining your country as an individual player or taking charge as the manager are both great and cater to the sort of players who are interested in either mode.
The real jewel of this World Cup tie-in though is the challenge mode. At present it only features setups and scenarios from the qualifying rounds but as soon as [insert name of country that's not Brazil here] lift the trophy players will have access to scenarios from the World Cup itself.
How it works is each challenge is based on something that really did happen during qualifying. Some drop you in at a certain point in the match and ask you to replicate real life. For example, you’re playing as Italy, Di Rossi has gone off injured and it’s 2-2 in the 81st minute. Can you clinch it for the Azzuri?
The alternative goes something like, England are already 5-0 up against San Marino but can you match the all-time record against the nation which was set when they were beaten 10-0 by [I forgot the country but it definitely was not Brazil].
On the pitch, the game feels a lot slower. Not calculated or methodical, just a little plodding. It’s unfortunate for a guy like me who thrives on playing at a fast pace. The animations and physics are generally better than the PS3 and Xbox 360 version of FIFA 14 was at launch. Ultimately, it just doesn’t feel fluid and coming off the PS4 version, that shift is a bit jarring.
The crowd is a lot livelier though. There’s a sense of atmosphere when playing matches. It’s a tad muted but present nonetheless and upon scoring the camera will cut to ecstatic fans jumping up and down and maybe even pan a shot of a nearby fanpark. These goal celebration moments are a little skittish and don’t add much to the experience of scoring a goal.
Despite feeling a little more plodding, gameplay on the pitch does feel a little closer to the PS4 versions in terms of it being easier to generate scoring chances. Scoring itself is still a trickier affair than previous FIFA outings as was the case in the vanilla FIFA 14. Attacking players also have marginally improved AI which doesn’t amount to much but ensures that they aren’t permanently caught offside.
Load times have been shortened and the game generally feels less buggy.
Ultimately, there’s a fair bit to like about this game but it’s still FIFA 14 underneath and that really does hold it down. If you dip a mouldy waffle in chocolate sauce it’ll look great and maybe even taste great but it’s still going to give you food poisoning. Okay, FIFA the game isn’t going to poison you. FIFA the footballing body probably would though, given the chance.