Version Tested: 1.0
Platform: Xbox 360
As the summer fast approaches, the one thing that is on most football fans’ minds is the World Cup tournament, held this year in Brazil, the spiritual home of football. Not ones to miss a sporting occasion, EA have allowed you to bring the World Cup into your own living room with their tie-in release, 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil for Xbox 360 and PS3.
This is a boxed retail release rather than the DLC approach that they adopted for the UEFA Euro 2012 add-on for the annual release of FIFA, and the Xbox One and PS4 have both been disappointingly snubbed in favour of the larger user base of the last generation. Two bold decisions by EA.
Releasing World Cup on a disc rather than as DLC for FIFA 14 will inevitably raise questions about value. Is there enough content here to justify a £40 release? In many ways, FIFA has spoiled us in recent years with its vast depth of teams, leagues, and modes and so a comparison between the two could be unfair. Nevertheless, World Cup boasts an impressive 200 teams, 7,000 players, 20 new stadiums, and multiple game modes, so it certainly isn’t light on content.
Your first stop will likely be the Road to the World Cup mode where you select one of the national teams and attempt to qualify for the main event. This didn’t feel thrown together at all thanks to the managerial feel of it. Not only do you get the qualification calendar that mimics real life, but as you progress through each week, you can train your players to increase their stats over time and also play in International friendly matches to keep up their match fitness. Once you’ve managed to qualify, it’s on to World Cup mode itself.
Seeing the stadia that will be used in the summer really adds to your enjoyment – even though some haven’t even been finished yet. As your team walks out on the pitch, about to take part in their first group match, you feel hyped and eager for the matches to begin, both in the game and in real life. And that’s a real testament to the game. It not only gets you excited about playing what is for all intents and purposes FIFA 14.5, it gets you excited for the real World Cup. Playing through the tournament virtually comes with all the features of the Road to the World Cup, such as training, team management, and injuries, but of course the prize at the end of it all is much bigger this time.
In addition to the two main game modes, you can attempt to lift the trophy wearing your own colours with the Captain Your Country mode – a nice extension to the Be a Pro franchise that EA has built up where the focus is more around you rather than the team. Finally, you’ve also got Story of Qualifying, offering various missions of increasing difficulty where you must take over from teams in real-life qualifying scenarios in an attempt to reverse history. This mode is a smart inclusion given the fact that almost everyone who buys World Cup will be looking for absolutely anything to increase their anticipation for the tournament to begin.
I do question EA’s decision to make this a last-gen title only. Whilst there is no denying that the vast majority of their user base is on the Xbox 360 and PS3 consoles, I must admit that after spending many hours on the Xbox One version of FIFA 14, I was left a little underwhelmed by the graphics and animations in World Cup. That’s not to say that they aren’t great for last-gen, but as we are now almost six months into new console ownership, the focus should be as much about how beautiful the game can look as it is about how well it plays.
Perhaps if EA had gone down the DLC route and made World Cup an expansion for FIFA 14, a cross-generation release could have been more possible.
The bottom line is this: if you’re a football fan who enjoys getting stuck into every release of FIFA, then this is an absolute must buy. As always, when it comes to flawless presentation and incredible attention to detail, nobody does it better than EA. When Gareth Bale scores and runs off towards the crowd performing his now infamous ‘heart’ gesture, that’s a big deal to football fans. It feels real. As a football fan myself, I personally don’t have a problem paying full price for something that will amplify my enjoyment of the tournament itself.
In summary, despite the glowing recommendation above, it’s a slightly different story for the more casual players. It’s difficult to justify this over FIFA 14, which is cheaper and contains far more depth. If you buy it, you’ll certainly have a great experience but you’ll always have one eye on FIFA 14’s game modes that are not included in World Cup, such as Online Clubs and Ultimate Team. If it was released as a £25 title or a £15 DLC package for FIFA 14, I’d be telling everyone to rush out and grab a copy.
Because of this, it’s a difficult one to score. I’ve based it on the game in its own right, but if you fall into the more casual bracket, you can probably remove one point from the overall.
Technical Competency – 8/10
Graphic/Sound Quality – 8/10
Network Stability – 9/10
Overall – 8/10
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