Review: Next-gen FIFA – To buy or not to buy?

This is a strange year for gamers, and there are so many situational purchasing moments most only have to deal with ever 5-7 years with the release of the next-gen consoles. No one wants to buy a game twice. Is it worth it? Trade up deals make it worth buying a game twice, yes, but not everyone has that option. So, I don’t really like “rating” games when it really comes down to it, but I’m forced to with an iron whip. Zeus is especially stringent in his management practices. I deal with the abuse for you guys though, never forget that. 

Anyways, you’re seeing quite a few double reviews of the same game cross console generations. Obviously Battlefield and PS4/Xbox One exclusives see the biggest upgrade in gameplay and visuals, which leaves the FIFA and Madden fans a little weary, given their track record of ugly releases around the launch of the last console cycle. Normally, the end of one console lifecycle breeds the best of the series, with a rocky start to the next-gen. Not now though, not at all. FIFA picked up right where it left off on the previous generation, which was pretty damn close to perfection, without breaking stride.
Which brings me to this whole, weird, reviewing process. I got a copy of FIFA on Friday, took a few days to play it, and now I’m here, mulling over an arbitrary score when the real bottom line is whether or not you should buy a game twice, or if you should want to upgrade to the next-gen systems to play the new iteration of said game. The odd thing is, I looked at other reviews, and while high, most were below the previous generation’s score, despite this next-gen FIFA being better in every way. It’s like these next-gen games are being graded harsher for having better graphics, it’s weird. I’ll try not to do that.
Basically, every mode, or gameplay option you expect in the near-perfect (or perfect depending on who you ask) FIFA titles over the last few years are here in this release, and the game now runs better and plays better than ever. It’s perfecting perfection at this point, and it’s really cool to see, especially just coming from reviewing the PS3 version two months ago. 
Ignite really shows it’s power in FIFA. It’s there in Madden, but it truly shines in FIFA. The players leaning into each other while trying to cut a corner around their opponent while dribbling is so incredibly visceral, and every bounce of the ball or clomp of cleats a player makes is animated impressively. I thought they were pushing the last-gen engine to the max, and it really shows the leap in physics and AI in this iteration of the game. When you’re in the box, defenders swarm you while watching out for a cross, and cheap plays that could almost always result in a score last generation are rectified here. Games are played far tighter by defensive AI, and my teammates are smarter too; they break across the field, or move into position correctly, or call for the ball if you get doubled. It’s really cool. I haven’t tried any of the next-gen basketball games, so I don’t know if they did better, but I can’t get over how impressive the AI is in this game. Yes, Ignite on Madden really enhanced the offensive line play, and the secondary specifically, but in FIFA, you’re seeing in-the-moment reactions from teammates that I’ve been conditioned to expect to suck. It’s quite revolutionary, and also a relief to see that Ignite is a sturdy foundation from which to build over the next few years. 
There isn’t much bad to speak of in this game. I’m disappointed to see that the player models have been barely touched, only enhanced with better textures. Sure, the actual physics of said players are stunning in their physicality, but on the surface they look decidedly last-gen. But that’s purely superficial, the game plays like a million bucks.
So now we are in the “wrap it up” part of the review, and I hope you see that FIFA 14 on the Xbox One and PS4 is basically the exact same game we saw, plus extremely enhanced AI and animations (and the awe-inspiring stadiums, don’t forget those). If that sounds like an incredible thing to you (which it should) then go pick up FIFA for your next-gen console of choice. It’s not a system-seller, nor is it an absolutely mind-blowing leap in technology, but it absolutely is a near-perfect game. EA has refined and enhanced an already fantastic game and polished it into a smooth piece of sports perfection. In a year where you can trade up to upgrade your previous generation purchase to the next-gen for $10, if you had to pick one game to do that with, it’s FIFA. 
It’s also addictive as all hell.
Published on November 28, 2013 at 1:45 am
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