It’s that time of the year again when all the transfer hype slowly dies down and footy fanatics look forward to a season filled with emotion, dreams and disappointments. Good thing then that FIFA makes an appearance as well… EA sports flex their financial muscle with fantastic graphics and a completely new commentary system. The new screen layout resembles a social media screen with everything displayed out in front of you and the new soundtrack is a winner as were all its predecessors’.

It’s difficult for a developer such as EA to continually recapture the imaginations of their fans as an annual release is not exactly a breeding ground for evolutions in gameplay and design. The questions of the matter are simple: Are the incremental changes made year after year keeping FIFA above its competitors? And furthermore, why not wait until FIFA 2015?

It’s easy to see from the offset and from the first match that the new installment is crisper and more fluid but it is hard to see any ground-breaking new systems or gameplay. As much as this may be disappointing to the fans of the beautiful game it is also not the key ingredient to what makes this game worth the buy. FIFA is one of those types that can fill a quick study break or even a room full of guys trying to show off their digital footballer skills. Albeit repetitive, those who enjoy FIFA will not be bothered by the lack of change.

Even though the changes are small they do exist and they do make for a more enjoyable experience. Firstly, matches are more realistically paced which removes over reliance on the ‘kick and run’ tactic that many frustratingly rely on. This means that gameplay has a larger dependence on the gamers’ positional and spatial awareness. This is made easier by EA developing a different motion engine allowing players to dribble in even more directions than before. Also, it allows for an even more controlled first touch and makes it easier for a player to guard and protect the ball from unscrupulous opponents.

Your runs off the ball and body play is also slightly improved but the most impressive is the realism attached to the individual abilities of certain players to remain true to their real life attributes. Teams are now harder to break down than ever before but even harder to defend against as supporting players make different runs in order draw your defenders away. There are more off-sides than before but this is not a bug and simply a matter of being patient when making an offensive run. The humorous, and sometimes irritating, bugs of the past are far less frequent and no longer will you see Messi getting close lined by Ronaldo for no apparent reason. Manager mode never seems to disappoint me and the new version has held its head high. Communicating with players and scouting networks are more thought out than ever before and add hours onto playing time before a kick off has even taken place.

So then, it is difficult to say if this FIFA is worth the buy. It is the best football game out there and outdoes its major competitor in Pro Evolution Soccer but it can be seen as a lot of money to spend every year, especially when changes are so small. If you are an Arsenal fan the pull of Mesut Ozil may force your hand. But then again, why shouldn’t it. FIFA is about being absorbed into a glorious dream of being the world’s best team playing the world’s best football. For those supporting Man United, as I do, it is perhaps a chance to make up for the shoddy start to the season. Either way footy fans will love it despite its lack in changes.

FIFA 14 Rating: 8/10

Check out the FIFA 14 website: FIFA 14

Nicholas Holt – PS3 Games Writer | About me – Scared of Batman, Parktown Prawns and Vanilla Ice-cream. Dream Wingman: Mahatma Gandhi. Studying: Bcom Law at WITS.