It’s that time again ladies and gentlemen. In but a few short weeks the FIFA World Cup will once again be upon us, this year being brought to us from the sunny cities of Brazil. The host nation will be looking to reclaim the trophy they last won in 2002 and Spain will be looking to spoil the party and retain what they rightfully won four years ago. Amongst them a host of other nations will be looking to cause upsets and create their own story, including none other than the mighty (ahem…) England. And as sure as sun rising every morning, EA Sports’ have once again graced us with a world cup tie in game to their annual FIFA franchise.
2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil is a standalone title for Xbox 360 and PS3 after EA’s attempt into the downloadable realm with Euro 2012 was distinctly underwhelming, both in terms of quality and sales. But was it simply that, or are fans simply boring of forking over cash for these big tournament tie ins?
One thing you can’t accuse the game is of lacking character. As soon as it loads the menus you will be inundated with Samba beats for your ears and a host of bright, vibrant colours for your eyes. The commentary is typically excellent for an EA Sports’ title and the game introduces some podcast like chatter in between games, which is a nice change of pace from hearing the same songs repeated ad nauseam. However, maybe it is just my unrealistic expectations from playing FIFA 14 on the Xbox One for the last six months, however the game is graphically shaky at times. The character models are nice and it is nice to see the faces of some real managers for once, however with my time with the game there was numerous instances of slowdown and frame rates dipping and the game forces you in some matches sit through the whole match build up. I understand this is so you can soak up the atmosphere, but when you just want to play it can be a tad annoying.
Once you get onto the pitch however things play as excellently as any regular FIFA player would imagine. FIFA 14 was quite a big overhaul from a gameplay perspective so its no big surprise to see little has been added here, with the team likely hard at work introducing new features for the inevitable FIFA 15. That is no bad thing however, as the FIFA 14 engine was critically acclaimed for offering the most lifelike football experience yet. Likewise World Cup offers a balanced, measured game where playing to the strengthes of your team and the weaknesses of the opposition is key to victory. The strength and heading ability of a player like Andy Carroll can be just a useful as a speed demon like Gareth Bale.
Where the World Cup tie in falls down in comparison to it’s big brother title though is in the range of game modes offered. Whereas the main game has career, pro clubs, FIFA Ultimate Team and numerous others as well, none of those modes are present here. All you get here is the standard online modes and in single player you can play the Road to FIFA World Cup mode to take your team through the qualification stages and then, you guessed it, you can play the actual competition in World Cup mode as well. Other than that there is a mode where you control a single player for a country and try to gain captaincy of the team and lead them to glory. None of these modes are bad necessarily, and it is all suitably authentic, with the option to play the real fixtures for qualification and the tournament, however they all lack the staying power and replayability of FIFA 14’s Ultimate Team or career modes.
Ultimately, 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil falls afoul of the same issues that plague all of these tie in games. It is simply too hard to justify a £40 price tag for what is effectively a trimmed down version of FIFA 14. The gameplay on offer is as excellent as it ever has been, but most of the ‘new features’ on offer are merely cosmetic and modes available simply lack the enjoyability of the comparable modes in its big brother title.
If you are seriously caught up in world cup fever, or simply must have any new game with FIFA in the title then this could be for you though. There is no doubting the authenticity of the game, with mangers and full teams licensed for all 32 world cup teams and a whole host of offers countries included as well. It also successfully captures the feel and buzz of the tournament very effectively and sucks you into the party atmosphere. Just expect it to last very long after the real tournament ends.
2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil is available now on Xbox 360 and Playstation 3 from various retailers. You can check out the launch trailer below.