It’s the end of September again, which means it is time for the latest FIFA release, this year’s being FIFA 14. I thoroughly enjoyed my playing of FIFA 14 for review, and, although not usually the biggest fan of football, I plan to spend more time with the game this year than I usually do. Read on for my in-depth thoughts on the latest release…

FIFA is one of the biggest, if not THE biggest franchise in EA’s lineup. Hundreds of thousands of people queue up at midnight every year to get their hands on the game as early as they can, heading home to usually start off their Ultimate Team (if they haven’t already done so in the web app). The game has been constantly refined, with features being added and removed and even more realism featuring each year. FIFA 14, in my opinion, matches the quality of last year’s release.

Many fans eat, sleep and breathe FIFA, and spend time with the game almost every day of their lives. The game has huge market dominance, and due the nature of a yearly football season in reality, the game renews itself and stays fresh for the entire year without much intervention from EA. I want to start off by talking about the mode that really is the crown jewel of the FIFA series, and the mode where most players spend most of their time; Ultimate Team.

In Ultimate Team, players purchase packs of players (like collectible cards) to use in their team which can play against AI or online players. You can then buy or sell players on the Ultimate Team transfer market in COINS currency, which are earned from winning matches and tournaments and selling players. The packs which you buy a random selection and can be purchased with either FIFA Points (to be paid for with real money) or earned coins.

The beauty of this gameplay model is that there will always be a reason for players to keep check on their teams. Special packs with extra players or rares may become available temporarily on the store, one of the players you own may become highly valuable due to their real-life performance, or you might score a player like Messi who will make you rich if you sell him on the transfer market. The fun of bidding on actions for players, managers and consumables adds entertainment to the game, and the anxiety to see the rare player you collected in your packs when opened brings back memories of opening booster packs for TCGs. It really is the perfect mode of football games for fans of the sport, as there is a certain prestigiousness associated with having good players.

The team have made a few changes to FIFA 14 Ultimate Team, although it’s mostly the same game fans know and love. The requirement to use consumables to change formation has been removed, so players will no longer need to pay, or find these consumables. Chemistry Style cards have been added, which increase certain player stats permanently; a far, far more useful addition, replacing an annoying requirement.

Ultimate Team is, by far, not the only thing FIFA 14 offers, however. The mode I found most enjoyable was CAREER MODE. This mode allows you to become the manager of a team, deciding player wages, transfer signings, loans, squads and tactics, with a very impressive system simulating the real life happenings of a career in huge detail. This mode gripped me more than any other, and I spent hours and hours playing it when I should have been balancing between it and the other modes of the game. The comprehension of the emails, options and real-time statistics and news is baffling, and it just showed me actually how much work goes into making some of these modes. FIFA 14 is, under it all, a highly complex game with a lot of very comprehensive game modes.

Not only are Ultimate Team and Manager Mode (Career Mode) included, but Pro Clubs, Create a Tournament, Kick Off, Be a Pro Player/Goalkeeper, Creation Center, EA Sports Arena, Online Friendlies and Seasons are all also available to play, with Seasons now including Co-op Seasons, where you play 2v2. Skill games and 1v1 head to heads also make a return, with various upgrades being made to all the included game modes. They are generally the same modes you love from FIFA 13, but more refined and realistic.

Physics and graphics have also been given an upgrade. The gameplay mechanics have become more realistic than ever, and really, I don’t think we are going to get much closer to how real-life football would behave than we have already, as it has almost been perfected. Graphically, the stadia and pitches all look stunning, and the crowd is noticeably more interactive and realistic in appearance, at touted by EA. FIFA 14 generally focuses on making the game more realistic, and it is definitely succeeding in its task.

The music is far better than that offered in FIFA 13. Some of the best hits feature in the menus, which is very refreshing and enjoyable to hear as you are changing settings, updating your squads, or building some tactics. The commentary, sound effects and crowd reactions are as good as ever, exceeding in the highest degree. Overall, the sound performance of the game is about as good as you are going to get. I believe EA Sports have hit their limits of improvements with some of the aspects of FIFA.

Overall, FIFA 14 brings everything good from the previous releases, refines them where it is possible, adds some new features and raises the bar in realism and aesthetic performance in the football game genre. It is certainly worth buying, especially if you are a FIFA/football fan, as there is plenty of content and options to suit EVERYONE! FIFA 14 is available today in Europe, and is out now in the US and some other regions.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Our final scores for a game are NOT an average of the other scores, the overall score takes into the account the relevance of each individual aspect overall, in our opinion. In the case of FIFA 14, the wrong final score was incorrectly entered due to a typo, and spotted later. Apologies for the error.