2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Xbox 360 review
Publisher: EA Sports Developer: EA Canada Genre: Sports Players: 1-4 (1-4 online)
Age Rating: 3+ Other console/handheld formats: PS3
Four years ago I reviewed the last World Cup game from EA, and now it is time to look at how much the game has changed. With the next generation and digital downloads en vogue, it is interesting that EA chose to make this game available on disc for the last generation of machines.
Please note that the version reviewed is the Champions Edition that was available to pre-order, which came with an Xbox Live code to redeem for extras. These included an extra celebration, Adidas footballs and two special squads of players to use. One interesting mode that is unavailable at the time of writing is the online Road To Finals. This will be updated during the tournament to provide new scenarios, based on the real results as the games are played.
Instead of a tutorial, this version of FIFA offers mini-games as well as the classic practice pitch. There are 13 skill games to play from a separate menu option, introducing new skills as the player learns the controls. The mini-games also pop up while a match loads during other modes. Each skill game has bronze, silver and gold levels and a final skill challenge – earning a set number of points moves the player up to the next level.
Captain Your Country is the equivalent of Be A Pro, with up to four players participating for a single country team. Starting before qualification for the World Cup, the player chooses an existing footballer or creates a new one to go on a journey. That journey is shown through training, friendly fixtures and qualifying matches with the aim of making the World Cup squad and captaining your chosen country. It is important to play and train well, raising your footballer’s attributes and earning a high reputation to earn that all-important place in the squad and possibly the captain’s armband.
The Road To World Cup scenarios mode provides a large amount of depth, along with extra missions unlocked in the Store (see below). Players can choose a Region, which then presents a number of scenarios set during the qualifying stages. This might be to help American Samoa win their first ever international, or to turn around a losing position for Portugal.
Online has three different modes to play. A single match can be played, inviting friends to join in. Road To Rio provides a series of matches, the idea being to win and move along the imaginary road to Rio through 12 different cities. The final mode emulates the full World Cup Finals with group stages and knockout matches.
Playing the various modes earns Experience Points (XP) to raise the player’s level and extra coins. These coins are spent in the Store on a variety of items. These include extra teams, cosmetic items like footballs, celebration moves and more scenarios to play in Road To World Cup mode (under the Extras region).
This incarnation of FIFA is polished, with the menu system and screen dissolves reflecting the colourful logos of the Brazilian tournament. Subtle additions are the “fan zone” and crowd cutscenes. The music tracks include the official tournament song and a decent mixture of artists. The in-game graphics are of a high standard, although in the bright sunlight of sunny Day matches the skinny character models can appear cartoon-like. Player representations are perhaps not so impressive as FIFA 14, but the sheer number of teams (representing all 203 nations that attempted to qualify) is good and offers plenty of options.
Sadly the game has inherited many flaws from earlier incarnations too. Captain My Country is too easy on the lower difficulties, unbalanced by the ease of scoring. The commentary by the familiar voices of Peter Brackley and Andy Townsend is once again repetitive and full of cliché. All too often the same soundbites about a “cricket score” or “he’ll be quick to thank the rest of the team” emerge. The option of two radio discussion teams (Talksport and Men In Blazers) adds a little variety in the background of the longer campaign modes. Perhaps the greatest flaw is the over-reliance on certain tactics to score, reducing matches to a series of key moments where it is imperative to stop an attack early.
Die-hard FIFA fans should think twice before picking up this disc, whereas the occasional player might find value in the scenarios and accurate World Cup teams. The online community will be bolstered during the tournament, but it is unlikely to draw many away from FIFA 14. It still plays a decent game of football for all its flaws but is not an essential purchase.