Each annual release of a new FIFA iteration is a bittersweet event. The FIFA series has evolved substantially over the last few years, and with evolution comes tweaks and modifications that sometime greatly improve the game, and sometimes those tweaks break a mechanic that was already working perfectly fine. FIFA 14 is no exception to this rule, and while it does take a significant step forward in some areas, it takes a step back in others.
Good changes from past years: 1.Offensive AI: Players make intelligent runs that offer a bevy of attacking options 2.Defensive AI: The physical interactions between defenders and forwards are much more realistic. Gone are the days of simply running past or around defenders with Theo Walcott or Welliton (cursed be his name). Defenders block forwards and position themselves to make tackles before the forwards can really build up speed. Most of the time. 3.Shielding the ball: Finally, you can pass the ball to a teammate and the player can shield the ball and maintain possession. Players in possession of the ball fight harder to maintain possession. 4. Player movement and acceleration: Here's a topic of debate, but I honestly feel that EA made the right call to change up how this works from past years. The first few steps a player takes are slow; players don't take one step to reach full sprint speed like in FIFA 13. Slowing down player acceleration definitely reduces the fluidity of the game, which will certainly take some getting used to.
Things EA broke: 1.PASSING!!!!! It's horrible. Atrocious. Reprehensible. Broken. It's slow, weak, and inaccurate. Even the best players struggle to complete relatively simple passes consistantly. No, it's not as if EVERY pass misses the target, but players make awful passes with far too great of frequency. FIFA 13 passing worked great, they should've left it alone. 2. First touch: This is the mechanic that adds variability to how well a player traps the ball when receiving a pass. FIFA 14 has taken this idea a little too far, to the point where players fail to control even very simple ground passes. Once again, I think FIFA 13 mostly got this mechanic right, but it simply isn't working this year. 3. Player collisions: Players from the same team trip over each other all the time; it was annoying in FIFA 13, and EA failed to fix the problem with 14. 4. Offsides: Defensive AI is better at springing the offside trap, which is a good thing. However, the result is that strikers are getting caught offisde CONSTANTLY.
As a diehard FIFA fan, I really wish I could say that I simply love FIFA 14 without any reservation, but that's simply not the case. I really like some aspects to the game, and I'm quite fond of the improvements I mentioned above. Honestly, if EA can just patch the passing system, I can live with first touch and player collisions as they are. But soccer/football/futbol is a PASSING game; if that isn't working, the game isn't working.