This post has been sponsored by EA Sports, but all thoughts are our own.
As I turn up on the doorstep of the Unruly London HQ for their FIFA 14 Tournament, I can feel I’m in trouble.
FIFA is a game I am perfectly capable of playing. But beating others who play the game religiously? Not a chance. I’m a PES man and I’m not afraid to say it. But I took the challenge of facing up to these FIFA champions and made my way inside. I was greeted by friendly, and may I say beautiful women, so naturally I timidly said hello and let myself get briefed on how the evening would pan out!
Two different tournaments panned out throughout the night, PS3 and XBOX. I put my name in for the PS3 portion as I saw most people clamouring around the XBOX. It did however turn out that some very good players were also on PS3, much to my dismay. I should mention the prizes for winning the prestigious competition. Each tournament winner would get a copy of the game for their respective console, and then the winner of a super match between them would win a pair of EA Sports branded Monster headphones.
I was (un)lucky enough to be drawn out the jar in the first game against Lee, an Unruly employee. I was Juventus and Lee chose Arsenal as his weapon. Clearly very skilled, Lee dominated the match, with me only coming close to scoring at the end of the first half. Very adept using feints and tricks, Lee powered two goals past my helpless and flapping defence before the 65th minute leaving me drowning. I had a chance towards to the end of the game to get a consolation, but what I felt was button lag in my rage at the time, prevented any hope of a comeback. Lee was still very humble in his win and it was a genuine pleasure to play against him (and lose).
That was my one experience with FIFA during this evening, but watching the following match ups provided some memorable moments and some precious lessons. Chelsea are good in FIFA14, very good. André Schürrle is a goal scoring beast. Finally, when you take the time to learn and master the little intricacies of FIFA 14 you will be a force to be reckoned with. The players who just passed and shot could win, but those who took advantage of the tools provided by EA really dominated. A prime example of this is the grand finale. The PS3 winner vs. the XBOX winner. Both had played well and won their tournaments. However, when the match started there was no mercy and no chance for the PS3 winner. As I don’t remember the chaps names, I’ll refer to them as PS3 and XBOX. XBOX took the lead with an Isco shot with the outside of the boot on the edge of the area, a beauty that would be eclipsed later in the game. PS3 came back, forcing an own goal from Pepe for the equalizer. Now here is where the game stopped being a contest. A great run, cut inside and shot from Cristiano Ronaldo put XBOX 2-0 up, then it became 3, then 4, then 5 and finally another Ronaldo goal ended the misery for PS3 that was a 6-1 annihilation. XBOX used chops and feints expertly to throw off his opponent and create masses of space. This is something that PS3 didn’t even look like he knew how to do.
Focusing on gameplay, there are pros and cons to FIFA 14. Playing against a friend can be monumentally fun. Having said that, the amount of misplaced passes and terrible tackles were in plain sight for everyone to see. I didn’t see a single person play a really good match with their team. People won and lost, and even dominated. But no one put in a performance with fantastic stats to back it up. Passing accuracy was low, shots on targets were poor. I do think that is a reflection on the game rather than the players because there were some very good players on show. It seems like EA have almost placed too much emphasis on the power on passes. You under hit it and the chance to be dispossessed is very real. Over hit it and the same thing can happen. You have to find that sweet spot that is quite difficult to do in certain situations. It felt like I was fighting a battle to make sure my passes and even dribbles kept me in safe positions. Even if I was just passing among defenders, the risk of losing the ball was very high.
Something I really like however is the presentation of FIFA 14. The tab/tile system resembles the new Microsoft Windows 8 interface and is incredibly useful and intuitive.
Going back to the actual event, I have to say a massive thank you and well done to Unruly for the brilliant night that they put on. Also thank you to everyone for being so friendly and making me feel welcome, even if I did sit by myself for most of it! It was a really good spirited evening and Unruly can be proud of it.