E3 2013: FIFA 14 hands-on
At this year’s E3, EA Sports is all about the detail. The emphasis is on the Ignite Engine, which powers FIFA, NHL, NBA Live, NFL and UFC.
The three pillars (there are always three of these things) they want everyone to talk about are ‘True player motion’, ‘Human intelligence’ and ‘Living worlds’. Which are all fine bullet points, but what does it actually play like?
In short, chaotic. At EA’s booth, pre-alpha code was playable on an Xbox One, a match between Barcelona and Athletico Madrid. With two of the best teams in the world on show, it was easy to see the little skill moves and details bear out in gameplay.
“These improvements correct flaws”Players don’t take touches unless necessary, preserving momentum in their runs, while shooting has again been revised, this time taking ball physics into account. All of these improvements correct flaws that you’ve probably never even noticed before. For example, only two players can currently contest a header, but now many can.
The effect of all this realism is that few things are predictable. You’re never certain where the ball will go or whether a pass will reach its target. Every tussle for the ball is clearly influenced by player attributes, position, momentum and a wealth of other factors.
“Visuals were stunning”It’s always difficult to judge how a game like FIFA which you’ll play for tens or hundreds of hours will be based on a five minute game, but the signs are promising.
What’s easier to judge is the visuals, which were stunning on the Xbox One. Crowds are now populated by individual people, rather than blocky cardboard figures, players’ shirts move over their torsos as they run and stewards walk up and down on the touchline.
Games like FIFA are developed like clockwork, with each year offering more and more incremental updates. Each seems trivial, but together they move the series on towards a more authentic football experience. This year is no different.