Only a few weeks have passed since the release of FIFA 14 for Xbox 360, PS3 and other not-so-new platforms. But the recent arrival of a new generation of consoles meant that EA Sports had to introduce an overhauled version of its incredibly popular football franchise, among others like Madden 25. Powered by an all-new engine known as Ignite, FIFA 14 is essentially the same game we saw a month ago but designed take full advantage of the raw power inside the Xbox One and PlayStation 4.
It's not a complete port, however, as it's missing a few features some players consider part of the core FIFA experience. Namely, there's no Tournament Mode, which is a huge problem if you want to create a little competition between friends; this feature has been a part of almost every recent FIFA version, so it's a little surprising to see EA choosing to leave it out.
Other offline modes, such as Be a Pro and Career, are still present and remain largely unchanged, making the transition an easy one if you're already used to acting as a player or manager. Speaking of which, don't expect current data from either of these to simply show up on your shiny new console; the carry-over solution EA provides only allows you to get "upgrade perks," which depend on how much you've played each mode. Simply put, you won't be able to transfer your existing player or manager from an Xbox 360/PS3 to Xbox One/PS4; instead, you'll have the option to get extra points on attributes or have access to things like the rematch option within the game menus.
The opposite is true for online features, meaning you'll be able to use the Virtual Pro created on your old system, while the Seasons stats have also been brought over and are linked to your Xbox Live account. Meanwhile, Ultimate Team, which can be played online and off, is mostly unchanged, save for the Xbox One exclusivity on Ultimate Team Legends -- EA told us it will stay this way for the entire FIFA 14 cycle. In addition, the title also takes advantage of Microsoft's Kinect, allowing the use of voice commands to change tactics, prepare substitutions and, most importantly, let your emotions be heard every time the referee makes a bad call.
Now on to what really matters: gameplay. Thanks to the developer's newly minted Ignite engine and the potent next-gen internals, FIFA 14 is a blast to play on both the Xbox One and PlayStation 4. Not surprisingly, the most noticeable changes are in the graphics, from the players' physical appearance to the extreme level of detail found in the stadiums and people cheering in the stands (i.e., the spectators no longer look as if they're made of cardboard).
Once a match kicks off, the difference in fluidity is immediately obvious, with each player's movement feeling and looking, for lack of a better word, real -- so much so that someone in the same room asked what game I was watching on TV. No joke. This is also helped by a feature EA Sports calls "Living Worlds," which makes matches look like they're being broadcast, with those dynamic crowds, improved camera angles for instant replays and highlights throughout the match.
For folks who played it on the Xbox 360 or PS3, there won't be much of an adjustment period. That being said, the lack of a Tournament Mode in this version could be a dealbreaker to some -- and, frankly, I wouldn't blame you if it were. Otherwise, there likely won't be any disappointed Xbox One or PlayStation 4 users. All told, the new consoles usher in a much smoother and better-looking FIFA 14, and I can easily say it is one of the best games available right now. Now we just need another footie game to compete against it, because the last thing we want is EA Sports thinking it's okay to let its foot off the pedal.
-- Edgar Alvarez