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Video Game Review: FIFA 14 (PS4/Xbox One)

November 24, 2013 | by Mike Chen | Comments Comments Off
FIFA 14 (PS4/Xbox One)
EA Sports’ new Ignite engine takes environments and animation to the next level.

FIFA 14 is arguably the biggest game in the world, so it makes sense that EA Sports decided to use it to showcase its new next-gen (or current-gen, depending on how you look at it) Ignite engine. What’s in the package? Let’s take a look (and here’s the PS3/Xbox 360 review for reference).

Environments

Cardboard cutout crowds have been part of the EA Sports package since the PS2/Xbox days. While textures brought more detail in recent years, stadiums still had a lifelessness to them. One of the Ignite engine’s biggest improvements comes with stadium details. Finally, crowd members are fully realized 3D models capable of moving individually. Sidelines are also now filled with cameramen, media members, and other extras. Wide shots are more impressive than ever before, and they complement the extremely detailed stadiums in ways you’ve never seen.

Graphics and Animation

Up close, there’s no doubt that there’s been a generational leap forward. It’s not so much in the individual character models, at least not from the outside (internal polygon counts undoubtedly increased). However, the true difference is in the animation. FIFA 14’s animation expands from the PS3/Xbox 360’s library to provide a more lifelike experience. You’ll notice subtle things like the jerseys rippling during a mad dash. From a bigger picture perspective (particularly in slow motion), things look smoother and more spontaneous.

The one thing EA still hasn’t fixed? Players still look dead behind the eyes.

AI

This version of FIFA 14 employs next-gen processing power and experienced players will notice that the AI makes smarter decisions. It’s subtle, and casual players may not be able to tell a difference, but player movement appears to be more varied (in a good way). The easiest way to put it is to say that AI players seem smarter and more creative.

Physics

Collision and ball physics are definitely a cut above with the power of new hardware. Collision physics come down to the details, so rather than triggering canned animations, you’ll see more specific reactions. For ball physics, the ball still feels somewhat like it’s magnetically attracted to players. However, there is definitely more ball freedom, both in bounces and errant passes/shots, and this creates a better sense of realism.

Menus

One of our biggest critiques with EA Sports’ current generation of titles is the cumbersome menu system. We don’t know why the PS4/Xbox One versions are different from the PS3/Xbox 360 versions, but they’re more streamlined, load quicker, and just easier to use. It’s about time.

What Hasn’t Changed

All game features and controls are the same, while both online and offline are fundamentally the same.

The Verdict

FIFA 14 for the PS4/Xbox One takes an already strong game to a higher level. There aren’t any new features, so there are some minor functional upgrades to go with the many superficial improvements. If you already own the PS3/Xbox 360 version, this isn’t a mandatory purchase. However, if you’ve been holding out to get your new console before taking to the pitch, you won’t be disappointed.

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Video Game Review: Rocksmith 2014

November 4, 2013 | by Mike Chen | Comments Comments Off
In short, it’s all very functional, but lively enough to prevent it from feeling too instructional. I do have a gripe about the way the notes scroll, but I’ll leave that for the gameplay section.
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Video Game Review: The Wolf Among Us, Episode 1

October 26, 2013 | by Mike Chen | Comments Comments Off
It’s an immersive, interesting world with a story that quickly grips you and sucks you in. The episode’s ending is a doozy, and you’ll be either sitting slackjawed at the screen or screaming at it — either way, Episode 2 can’t come quickly enough.
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Review: NHL Gamecenter Live 2013-14 App

October 18, 2013 | by Mike Chen | Comments Comments Off
For the past few hockey seasons — yes, even the lockout-shortened one that ran for 48 games — I’ve subscribed to NHL Center Ice through DirecTV. This season, however, that all changes as I go strictly streaming with NHL GamecenterLive. I’ve had GCL before but it’s always been in conjunction with Center Ice, so it’s been more of a supplement if I needed to watch an archived game or highlights, or I was away from our big TV. Not so this season, which puts it in a head-to-head faceoff with its satellite/cable counterpart. Are you weighing which package to get? Here’s what to consider.
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Video Game Review: FIFA 14

September 30, 2013 | by Mike Chen | Comments Comments Off
The flip side to this is the new Pull And Hold feature on defense, which is essentially cheat-but-don’t-get-caught. As your defender is adjacent to an opposing player, using B/Circle causes your player to physically interfere by grabbing and jockeying for position. Just don’t do it too long or too blatantly, as it’s a surefire path to a foul.
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