Every four years, the Beautiful Game kicks into World Cup mode, and in 2010 South Africa played host to a successful event. This year, another Southern Hemisphere country will have the honour of hosting the world’s best football teams, as the tournament moves to Brazil.
Electronic Arts is once again front-and-centre with another video game attempt at determining who is the best footballing nation, an event that is watched by billions on live television. EA’s 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil will take gamers on a whirl-wind ride through the entire World Cup, and with even a little bit more on the side.
While the official tournament is only kicking off on 21 June, EA decided to release the accompanying video game a good two months before all the teams line up for the biggest trophy on the football calendar.
In terms of the actual game play mechanics, not much has changed since EA’s release of the official FIFA 14 title a while back. A lot of the same technology has been employed to deliver this one, so gamers can look forward to action that they are already familiar with.
But no good game would be worth its salt if it was just a carbon-copy of a previous title, and EA did at least incorporate some changes. The most notable differences are that players now have greater control when it comes to dribbling, the passing accuracy has been increased and there has been a number of small changes in the first-touch mechanics. In all, it aims to make the action on the pitch as smooth as possible.
Even with the changes in the mechanics, the biggest draw card for a game of this nature is in the game play modes. It wouldn’t be a World Cup game if teams couldn’t at least compete for the most coveted cup.
In Road to the FIFA World Cup, players take their chosen teams on a whirl-wind ride through the actual qualification stages which started as far back as 2011. It is the first time in the history of World Cup video games that the entire qualification series are playable – a feature that only included the UEFA and CONMEBOL groups in the 2010 version.
The Captain Your Country mode is probably the mode which players will find the most benefit – but be forewarned, it’s incredibly long. Just as with the Road to the FIFA World Cup, players aim to take their team through the friendlies, B-side internationals, the qualifications and World Cup.
But instead of players controlling the entire team, as with Road to the FIFA World Cup, gamers only control an individual player on their side, or their own character which they would have created previously and inserted into the team. It’s World Cup football on a much more personal level, as the ultimate goal of the gamer is to be selected as the national captain that goes on to win the World Cup.
The title also features a number of other modes, which all in one way or another end up with the player competing in the World Cup finals – be it against computer-controlled AI, or online multiplayer opponents.
As a football title, 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil does its job rather well, and fans of the tournament won’t be disappointed – but it can also become laborious rather quickly.
As a World Cup title, EA opted to again include small aspects which make the game a lot more believable and actually feel like a World Cup companion – like cheering fans, cutting to outside broadcasts in fan parks and different commentary streams.
Charlie Fripp – Consumer Tech editor