Videogame Review: 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil
With two months left until the 2014 FIFA World Cup, there’s no better way to build up the anticipation than the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil videogame. Released on April 15 in North America and April 17 in Europe for the Playstation 3 and Xbox 360, EA Sports new addition to their famed FIFA series does away with the club football scene and caters to the diehard fans of international football, featuring 203 national teams and the full license to every continental qualifying groups. With the full license, the game introduces the new Road to the FIFA World Cup mode where players can select one of the 203 teams and guide them through their continents qualifying stages of the FIFA World Cup.
While most of the fun could be drawn from using your favorite international superpower like Brazil or Germany and taking them to World Cup glory, there’s a great sense of accomplishment and reward when you can somehow lead a no-name country like Cypress or the U.S. Virgin Islands through qualifying stage and into the FIFA World Cup (Assuming that you’re willing to endure long maddening hours to do so). With every qualifying group fully licensed, such challenges are possible to undertake, adding much replay value to the game.
Drawing on from FIFA 14’s Be-A-Pro mode, the World Cup edition features the Captain Your Country mode. After selecting a country, you will be given the option of creating a player who will lead your country to the cup or pick an already established player (Like Clint Dempsey for USA or Bastian Schweinsteiger for Germany). The game is played in the renowned Be-A-Pro camera angle, giving the players a semi-first person view of the pitch as they guide their player around to stay in position and make most out of their touches with the ball. The catch? Regardless of whether you create a new player or pick an establish player, your player will start the game with poor stats (the game will cite age or rehabbing from injury as the reason), meaning you have to play and develop your character into form and win a spot on the roster against your compatriots.
The highlight of the game though is The Road to Rio de Janeiro where players take their nation through all 12 stadiums in the FIFA World Cup as they face other players online. Winning each online match not only leads players to a tougher online opponent, but also brings them closer to the final in Estadio do Marcana in Rio and a chance to play for the FIFA World Cup trophy. Despite the lags and reliance on both yours and your opponent’s internet connectivity, the task of trying to win as many matches consecutively leaves players wanting to stay glued to their joysticks.
Of course there are other standard features such as a head-to-head friendly, FIFA World Cup tournament, and online modes. There is even a scenario mode where players can either recreate matches from qualifying rounds or the upcoming finals to replicate or rewrite history.
Most of these game modes add to the replay value of this recent edition, and although owners of FIFA 14 might be hesitant to fork in 60 dollars for a FIFA game that’s only relevant for three more months, it’s still worth buying just to bring that World Cup experience into your home. The presentation of the stadium is colorful and vivid despite the limitations of the Xbox 360 and PS3 and the commentary by Andy Goldstein and Ian Darke isn’t as robotic as previous versions, although to my chagrin they managed to butcher the Asian names more severely than previous editions. In the 2010 FIFA World Cup game, the fan animation and design was sorely disappointing since the spectators rooting for their country looked like one palette swap to the next.
The 2014 FIFA World Cup made some improvements by giving each fan a unique appearance set apart from one another, but unfortunately the clunky graphics on the fan base make it ignorable. Players are given a choice of selecting a soundtrack of commentary by Goldstein and Darke or a podcast by Men in Blazers’ Michael Davies and Roger Bennett in the menu screen of the Road to the FIFA World Cup mode, but it’s recommended to ignore the snoozefest and blast the EA Trax. The game has a wide array of artists including the official FIFA World Cup theme song by Jennifer Lopez and Pitbull. Although most fans (including me) have bit their tongue with disdain that the likes of Pitbull was asked to write the theme song for the World Cup, the game made the song catchy enough to stick in my head for hours after I stopped playing the game. It was probably EA’s and FIFA’s way to get fans more excited for the World Cup.
Regardless of the presentation, players would be more thrilled with the updates on the gameplay. Adding on from FIFA 14 are over-the-back headers, where players jump over the top of the opposition to either clear the ball or score a vicious header. Two hours into my playthrough and I saw several athletic players like Mario Balotelli and Danny Welbeck manage to score easily in this fashion. The AI in this game has proven to be quite intelligent (let alone difficult to deal with) as the computer somehow adapts to your style and make tactical changes to play to their advantage. Although this may be difficult for newcomers to FIFA, it provokes players to constantly use their head and plan while as they play the game.
The game also has a better touch on the passing and a faster pace than FIFA 14, making attacking feel more fluid and manageable. Still, the AI has been prone to make too many stupid mistakes as the AI-controlled teammates have misread one-too-many passes which killed some clear cut opportunities to score or gave the opponents possession in a dangerous spot. It’s also frustrating when certain players who are supposed to stay back to defend your side of the box happen to make runs up top as if he were the striker. Of course, these faults can be corrected in the team management menu, but the adjustments itself take a huge chunk of the time. Despite these annoyances, 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil is still a solid football game.
If you own FIFA 14, it would be wise to not spend money on the FIFA World Cup edition of the series, unless you are a big fan of international football. For those who missed out on purchasing FIFA 14 or just love the World Cup, then I highly recommend to purchase this game and enjoy the opportunity to recreate the fun of Brazil in your home. Unless you happen to live in Brazil.