Two things bothered me when I cracked open the box for 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil.
|2014 FIFA WORLD CUP BRAZIL
Replay Value: 8.5
Overall Score: 8.1
Pros: Great soundtrack; many modes; terrific announcers.
Cons: Too much like FIFA 14; ads galore; jittery graphics.
The first thing I saw was an ad for Adidas. Some games give you discounts on movie tickets. FIFA World Cup gives sneaker ads. For $60 a game, you shouldn’t have to see an ad when you open the box. Under that, there’s a black and white pamphlet that directs you to a website where you can find a manual. Couldn’t they at least have added a diagram of controller functions?
So how’s the actual game? If you already own FIFA 14, should you buy 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil?
By the numbers, it seems great. There are 50 hours of audio, 203 teams, 19 real-life managers, 21 new stadiums and 12 modes.
There’s much more attention to mood and atmosphere in 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil than in, say, FIFA 14. For instance, you begin at the opening ceremonies, which are full of bright, shooting stadium fireworks, confetti and even vuvuzelas — those noisy plastic horns.
If you haven’t played before, the game automatically suggests you start out as a beginner. That means you only have two buttons to deal with, making play easier. You’ll just shoot and pass and move forward with the left stick.
Early on, I noticed two issues that took me out of the game.
First, the scenes of the crowd, coach or player celebrations are jittery. If they had been smoothed out, they would have seemed much more real.
And the player celebrations after goals seem too similar. For instance, with the Brazilian team, each player wags his finger, and one or two of his own teammates sit down to listen to the coach. They need more variety here.
The first beginner matches are so easy, your dog may be able to win. I scored 13 goals in my first match and got a couple of trophies for my effort. All those goals give you confidence, however, for the matches to come.
You can go a bit deeper than simply playing the World Cup matches with a couple of buttons. You can try to master 18 different tutorial training tasks, which helps level up your team. You can try managing. You can use the D-pad to change plays before, say, a corner kick. And your players are better at defense this time around.
As you play, you might be thrilled by dozens of new animations. Your goalie can try to distract a striker with moves like matador, in which you look like you’re fighting a bull. The physics are good, too. The ball is slowed by the stadium grass, for example.
Of the 12 modes, I like Captain Your Country the best. You start as the lowest of the low and move up to become a hero of the World Cup. It’s a little like Road to the Show in Sony’s 2014 MLB: The Show.
But Captain Your Country was also available in the 2010 edition.
Story of Finals (online) is cool, because it’s updated based on real play. So you get challenges that are fresh, and that make you feel closer to the excitement of June’s World Cup tournament.
All of these features make World Cup a good game, but it’s not superior like FIFA 14.
Occasionally, the artificial intelligence doesn’t work, like when your player doesn’t seem to notice the ball being kick softly to him. And the announcers are sometimes just a half second off in their banter.
If you’ve never played a FIFA game before, the many features will get you going. But for those who play FIFA a decent amount, EA needs to find a way to better emulate the fervent excitement and wild patriotism of a real World Cup match.
Maybe four years from now, in time for the Russia World Cup, they’ll get this right and move from a good game to an excellent game.