Check out our review of FIFA 14

The world of soccer is foreign to me. The only real spikes of interest I’ve ever had in the sport came in 1994 when the World Cup came to Chicago, and a few years back when the Chicago Fire set up shop in the ‘burbs within walking distance of my work for a season, and when my ex-roommate, OB, would wear his Diego Maradona jersey around our apartment in provocative fashions. I respect soccer, or football, from afar. I understand, and am in awe of its power around the world, I just haven’t ever tasted a sip of the sweet nectar that is football. I’m an American football kind of guy, but I’ve seen first-hand the intensity that FIFA fans express when a new game is released, and it seems like either FIFA, NHL or NBA 2K are winning sports game of the year, every year. So I’m jumping into this FIFA 14 review as a relative virgin to the sport but with my arms wide and eyes open, ready for greatness.

Since I feel kind of unprepared, having this be one of my first real experiences with FIFA outside of some brief flirtations around the turn of the century, I’m going to clean up my notes and display my feelings in near real-time, as I had them, over 2 marathon sessions equaling a 21-hour play session of FIFA.

Hour 1

Playing a random game. Picked Manchester United because I see those jerseys around sometimes. This soundtrack is thumpin’. I like this interface better than Madden, even though there seems to be a million teams and divisions, I can maneuver the UI easily and fluidly. How do soccer fans keep up with all of these different teams?

Playing now. Using classic controls instead of the newb-friendly 2 button’ controls. I suck so much. Every one of my passes are getting intercepted. Soccer seems much easier on TV. Speaking of TV, remember this?

It was awesome playing this game ten or so years ago and being able to slide tackle into everyone, destroying their legs. I can’t do this now, so I am disappoint. But these physics are incredible. When one player runs into another, they react realistically, threading limbs and lowering shoulders to bump someone out of the way or knock them over. This is so cool.

I still suck though.

Hour 2

I’m going to try the Manager Mode, since I love the Owner Mode in Madden. I kind of already like this better, since you can talk down on the other team, or motivate yours during the media days. I take over as the coach of the Chicago Fire and immediately start talking trash on the LA team. When I go to LA to play, it’s raining. Hmph.

I’m doing a little better now, and the rain has slowed down the play, so I’m starting to get a hang of moving the ball around the field more. In general, I feel like this weird game is making more sense to me if I look at it as hockey (I’m so sorry football fans, I’m new at this).

Now I’m starting to make plays. I’m hooking passes and I’m taking my time, waiting for lanes to open. I feel like the sprint button may be overpowered, but I no longer suck, at least against the computer. This is kind of awesome. I think I know why people like this sport/game so much now. Every goal is important.

This is freaking intense.

Hour 5.

I keep motivating my team during media days, and we’re heading into the final month of the season. I Don’t understand this points business as far as the rankings, but I’m in second place.

I’m addicted to this game.

Hour 7.

The Chicago Fire are the champions of the MLS, rejoice. I’m now enjoying the little practice sessions at the loading screen more than the game itself I think. There’s a good chance I’ve passed up the default difficulty now, because I’m regularly crushing the computer with one-timers and headers and ****. I can’t believe the ball control, and once again, the physics are so well implemented I almost get caught up in watching the little dudes on the screen hustle and push off other players while trying to make a play. Has FIFA always had this clean of ball control and physics? I’m going to go look.

Hour 8.

Alright, I’m back. Everyone’s praising the physics and ball control on the messageboards. It looks like EA has really just refined FIFA 14 without adding too many new, game-changing features. I’m happy they did this, because the game is polished as all hell and I’m regularly experiencing breathtaking moments around the goal and while attacking.

Hour 9.

Oh ****, I just got an offer to coach the Paraguay national team. I’m not sure if I should do this, but after talking with my wife and dog, we decide to take the trip south for a year or two. The World Cup is in my grasp (maybe).

Hour 10.

I have to admit, I like these announcers a lot. I’m not hearing them repeat the same phrases over and over again, and I’m getting a lot of cool, specific information about my players. I’m sure if I never played Madden before and then sat down and devoured it like I am with FIFA, I would be impressed too, but this just seems above and beyond where a normal sports game takes their polish.

I’ve amped up the difficulty, and I’m losing far more now. Paraguay hates me, I’m stuck in South America, and my star player is injured. At least I feel like I’m losing because of my poor play, if you know what I mean. The only real cheap things I could complain about is the player cursor changing to the player closest to the ball on defense, and that has screwed me more than once while defending.

Hour 11.

I think these last few EA Sports games have really pushed the 360/PS3 systems to their limits. The framerate is really smooth with no slowdown to report, everything is super responsive and the load times aren’t bad at all. I wonder what the next-gen will bring us. Are we going to be back down to a really nice looking 30 FPS or a nice looking 60 FPS? I need to know.

Hour 12.

I’ve been fired as the coach of Paraguay. I’m heading back to America, head hung low. I will forever remember my times in the jungle.

Hour 13.

I think I’m done with the Manager Mode (it has to be mentioned that the default name for your avatar in Manager Mode is Mr. Manager), so I tool around with some of the minigames, which are fun for a while, and I could see trying to get high scores for a long time to come. Another distraction.

I kind of hate how good this game is, I want to be playing GTA V, but it’s just so good.

Hour 14.

Linked up with a few friends online, playing on the same team is a blast. I find that way more fun then just playing against someone, but that’s fun too, obviously.

Hour 16.

Haven’t updated in hours because we’re still playing online. This game is really fun. I need to sleep. My lack of sleep is kind of hurting my play, but there are other moments now where I’m completely unconscious, dribbling the ball like the late, great Jonathan Brandis in Ladybugs. My wife went to bed hours ago. My dog is drooling asleep next to me, thoughts of Paraguay are long gone, that phase of my life is over. I can’t stop playing. Thumbs hurt.

Hour 17.

I hate how my hands get all sweaty, since this game is so intense, then my thumb slips off the pad. I need to go back to playing online.

Hour 19.

My hands hurt.

Hour 20.

I think sprinting is overpowered, but aside from that, nothing seems ‘wrong’ with the game as far as my newb eyes can tell. The physics in this game, as well as the overall ‘playability’ is through the roof. The only thing that will beat this is the next-gen version, which, as I wondered in my Madden review, might not be nearly as well made as this, considering the track record of these types of games when leaping to the next console. I’m going to go back to playing. One timers are so satisfying, and the ball physics are impeccable.

Hour 21.

I really just need to stop at this point. My hands hurt and I need to do something other than play this nearly perfect game. It’s my first major experience with the FIFA series, but it was fantastic. If you’re a FIFA fan that hasn’t bought the game in a few years, definitely check it out. For those people just looking for a fun time, and are marginal soccer fans, I would say pick this up if you don’t have a FIFA game already (mini-game fun for the whole family!), and as far as the hardcore fans, well, this is the best-selling series in the world year after year, so you already have it. You clearly know how great the game is.

It’s a testament to this game that I’m spending time learning the intricacies of a sport I’ve never really paid attention to for my entire life. 

Hour 22.

I think one more game should do me for today…

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