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Retro Football Games: FIFA 14

Thursday 7th September 2017
Today, we look at the ‘14 edition of FIFA. An exciting game which like all the other editions – tried to give you an authentic football experience. Yet, how does FIFA 14 stand up now? Can it hold a candle to the upcoming FIFA 18 release?

First of all, an admission. I know I'm scraping the barrel of retro here. The game is, however, four years old and such a landmark age can at least be considered old and that's what I'm defining retro as today. Old. So, we're going back to the year 2013 (when it was released). I was just a student, Donald Trump was just that guy on the US apprentice and Syria had no chance of qualifying for the next World Cup. Interesting times.

FIFA 14 loads in an appealing fashion. The videos are very flashy and the introductory video gives you a glimpse of the fun to be had, controlling Messi within the Camp Nou. Looks nice, eh?

When you play FIFA in its natural succession, the little differences which mount up, but secretly in ascendancy – making it quite a shock when you re-visit the older games. For example, the menus on the current edition are very sleek and sophisticated. In comparison, 14's is a rectangular mass which a funny looking font. There's way too much contrast in it and resembles what a sugar rush would like if you were able to paint it on canvas.
The playability, however, is interesting. There's an almost arcade game feel to it. Everything is fast. The tempo is out there and you can really make in-roads to game quickly. Through-balls seem to have been granted magical status where they'll head directly to the best player – and you have little control over it. They also seem to go unchallenged and can go for miles with nobody intercepting.

The first game I played, I opted for the Arsenal and played Inter Milan. I initially opted for semi-pro difficulty but found it way too easy. I was 2-0 up within 15 minutes. Considering the squad, I picked, that shouldn't have happened. Given how forgiving the game was, then started to play on professional. Which like many older FIFA games – became a real detriment. The step up from semi-pro to pro was just too much. The through-balls were still Disney-like but you'd encounter different problems.
Whilst most shots are good and bare a resemblance to the real thing, the opposition keeper always seems to have magnetic gloves. You'd shoot and he'd manage to get something on it. League 2 keepers pulling out world class saves became a bit of frustrating affair. On professional as well, as soon you receive the ball within the box, the defenders would essentially turn into mindless killer drones (who would have thought they'd be a thing back then) and look to maul the ball holder – giving you a very small window of time to either pass or shoot. Further adding to the exasperation of the difficulty.

Tackling is also an issue. In my second game (England vs. Italy), I found it near on impossible to take the ball from Mattia De Sciglio. He seemed to impervious to my attempts to disown him. I distinctly remember waltzing past 2-3 players before passing it to Pirlo. That made for incredibly upsetting scenes as Milner, Gerrard and even Cahill couldn't stop him.

The commentary on the game is surprising too. If you've played FIFA 17 as much as I have over the last calendar year, Alan Smith and Martin Tyler become a little jarring as they seem to repeat themselves from match to match. Whilst I didn't have that much time to play on 14, the phrases were very different. This was refreshing, to say the least, but that's probably just because I'd not heard them in years.

Aesthetically, the game still stands up for its day. I was using the Xbox One version – and found it to rather attractive looking. The brightness and hue are befitting of a downtown Tokyo arcade, but that's never a bad thing. Any player who was relevant back in 2012-2014 looks like their player, but if you weren't relevant you get the very generic face. Although some of the hairstyles are very off. Then again, maybe I can't remember Nicklas Bendtner's hair style from four years ago. The only snag with the appearance is the player's shirts. They look overly blocky and have a tendency to look like a sleeping bag.

A major addition and benefit to the game is the World Cup mode, whilst it's not as comprehensive as the separate title for the tournament – it did offer all 32 teams in the tournament and the challenge mode. Whilst that mode has been dormant for some years now, at the time you'd be able to log on and re-write history. I.e. the Netherlands and Spain are drawing 1-1 at half-time. You've got to try and win with either – or another option could be to recreate the 5-1 score line which Holland won by. At the time, it was banging and was genuine master stroke; that the game would update every day with new content as you followed the world cup.
Altogether a challenging game which doesn't feel that realistic at all. It has major issues with its difficulty gulf. The step up is just too much and quite disparaging. The World Cup content added a very good dimension to the game which aided it. At the time, probably one of the better releases but it's just not realistic compared to the contemporary counterparts. If you want realism, don't bother. If you want ping-pong football at million miles a minute which is fiendishly difficult – go ahead replay.
Warren Smith

Yokohama F•Marinos supporter. Seen it all in the J.League, relegation fights and being crowned champions. Play five-a-side, pretty good too. Once scored an overhead kick.

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