EA Sports has been preparing for Xbox One and PlayStation 4 by developing the completely new game engine, EA Sports Ignite. With development on Ignite taking place over the course of a few years rather than the normal one-year cycle for sports games, EA Canada was able to add a level of realism to FIFA 14 unheard of in previous console generations. While the improvements can still be considered minor, they go a long way when gamers have the controls in their hands.
Although the next-generation version of FIFA 14 is still a few months from launch, EA allowed players at E3 to experience a full-on sim for Xbox One.
As expected, the leap to a new console generation comes with improved graphics. However, the enhanced visuals in FIFA 14 have little effect on the actual players. Instead, developer EA Canada focused on stadium and crowd visuals. The result is an impressive, realistic touch that has always been lacking in sports titles. Ramping up the television broadcast feel, FIFA 14 constantly cuts to members of the crowd.
While the players on the field do not appear to be much different than their Xbox 360 counterparts, the animations have improved dramatically. Preset animations are soon to be a thing of the past as movements are fluid and smooth. Players on the field no longer experience ghosting effects and instead collide into each other with realistic momentum. Gamers will also feel as if they are experiencing a living environment as bench players, coaches and crowds all react seamlessly according to events taking place on the field.
The pure football experience runs smoother with the Ignite engine as players make better decisions, eliminating the frustrations of past FIFA titles. Footballers will aggressively seek the ball even when teammates are making similar attempts, making for crowded quarters and physical play. Offensive players also smartly read opposing defenses. As a result, plays are easier to set up and broken plays can be recovered from without human-controlled interference.
Ball physics reach a whole new level as the ball truly feels like a separate entity for the first time in a soccer sim. The ball no longer magnetizes to offensive players dribbling or receiving passes. Passes made with just the right amount of touch and accuracy can easily be controlled but first touch can be frustrating without the proper patient. This is offset by the better players on the field, who show their dominance more than in previous versions of the game. High-rated players will be more important than ever in FIFA 14.
Controls for FIFA 14 do not differ from previous versions of the game but the differences in the Xbox One controller improve the overall experience. The controller provides solid feedback through the subtle vibrations in the trigger buttons.
E3 was filled with next-generation titles Sony and Microsoft were hoping would showcase the power of the new consoles. However, most of the games failed to display the leap to a new generation of gaming, either through graphics or gameplay. FIFA 14 served as a perfect example of what the next generation will bring. Improved visuals, realistic animations and enhanced A.I. brought by the Ignite engine from EA Sports should get sports gamers excited to game on next-gen consoles later this year.
FIFA 14 is expected to release alongside the launch of Xbox One in November.