How does the best world football simulation improve when it already has a humongous feature set and an even bigger following? Tightening the gameplay is the smartest approach.
After a few matches with the FIFA 14 demo, it seems that's the approach EA Sports have taken to improve their successful series.
I came away impressed with a few things from a gameplay standpoint. The first-touch system felt even more natural than it did in FIFA 13. It was pretty easy to see the difference between taking control of the ball with complete command or making that first touch in a less-than-ideal manner.
The artificial intelligence (A.I.) of teammates also seemed to be heightened. My teammates found open spots on the field more often and it helped to create passing lanes and scoring opportunities. They also seem to pay more attention to offside situations.
Instead of taking the ball and causing the infraction, A.I.-controlled teammates seemed aware and didn't cause the penalty.
Perhaps the best improvements I've noticed in the demo are the slower pace and the more detailed animations. With real-time physics established as the standard in sports video games, FIFA has clearly made realistic player-to-player, player-to-ground and player-to-ball reactions a major focus.
I was a little concerned about the running animations from what I'd seen in other videos, but it looked smoother during actual gameplay. In the pregame practice session, I wasn't thrilled with Messi's movements. However, in the scope of a full game, all the animations melded together nicely.
The slower pace makes the game play more true to life. All games don't turn into shootouts or contests played at breakneck speeds. This also makes it much easier to set up offensive and defensive strategies.
Here is a look at my first match with the demo.
There are new elements to the ever-popular Ultimate Team mode that put an extra emphasis on establishing chemistry. Similar to the NHL 14 version of the concept, joining players from different countries and real-life teams gives your team more effectiveness.
The demo gives a tutorial of this process and it is actually cool to see how it works.
Gamers who download and play the demo will get a temporary Ultimate Team squad, just to get the hang of how the new enhancements will function.
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