There was a time when a new FIFA launch was met with a shrug of the shoulders and questions about what kind of new experience the football simulation from EA Sports could add. To many, the game felt complete and a large part of the community always wants an evolution rather than a revolution from the developers.
FIFA 14 comes after a revolutionary installment last year and plenty of people were expecting only small refinements to be included, plugging gaps and adding a few new concepts. But the Ignite engine and the power of the Xbox One and the PlayStation 4 were put to good use to create an experience that delivers more realistic matches, more unpredictable results and more drama.
Crosses are no longer overpowered as more than two players can challenge for the ball with physics-driven results that are hard to predict.
Long-range shots dip and swerve like they do in the real-world stars like Messi, Ronaldo or Gerard are involved.
Through passes are often stopped by solid defenses, but draw cheers from the public when they reach an attacker in a position where he is not guarded by a defender.
The entire game is more unpredictable and even a gamer who carefully weights every pass and tries to think ahead will have to deal with botched shots, better than expected challenges or fumbles that lead to a change in possession.
I sometimes miss the almost clinical precision of previous instalments of the FIFA series, but the game as it exists today will satisfy all those who crave the same excitement and level of surprise that characterizes the best national championships in the real world.
The problem with FIFA 14 is that the enhancements I have listed are at the moment only offered to those willing to buy a next-gen device from Sony or Microsoft.
Let’s hope that by this time next year, PC players, and possibly even those on current-gen consoles, will also be able to experience them in the 2014 installment of the game.