In years past, even as FIFA began to pull away from PES, every FIFA fan seemed to share the same singular vision when supplying yearly feedback to EA Sports: FIFA 09 was too fast; FIFA 11 had robotic defending, and even FIFA 12 – the pinnacle of the series – had some glaring issues. It’s clear that despite the quality, each year still saw new issues and problems.
In the modern game of football, many matches are wrongfully decided by poor refereeing decisions so at least EA Sports seem to be trying to be realistic with their portrayal of their in-game refs. So many times, FIFA ruins perfectly good matches with inconsistent decisions and it’s something that finally needs to be fixed.
The man in black is nearly as important to you winning as scoring goals, so if he’s not favouring you, you can forget about victory entirely. Constant shirt pulling and late tackles are rarely punished accordingly and it just encourages players to slide around all game committing fouls, making a mockery of the idea of a Beautiful Game. When the ref decides to call back play, he disrupts the game and often books two to three players after every intermission – frankly, it’s ridiculous.
Once more, FIFA 15 is rumoured to have a Be a Referee mode, which sounds crazy but surely it couldn’t be any worse than the current AI.
2. Aerial Supremacy
When FIFA plays well, there is nothing like it: the passing is crisp and smooth, the world’s best players look incredible, and even the fans were given an upgrade for FIFA 14′s next gen transition. But all it takes is one moment to ruin the beautiful presentation EA have worked so hard to create and most of these moments occur when the ball goes into the air, because though aerial supremacy is a huge part of modern football it seems lost on the developers at EA.
Apart from the overpowered headers and crosses, when the ball leaves the ground, FIFA 14 turns becomes nothing more than a lottery. World class players need three to four touches when trying to control the ball from a lofted pass with the ball bobbling around like a balloon afraid to come down. There’s nothing worse than being through on goal and getting caught in possession when your player has taken multiple touches.
Through balls are the bane of many users’ lives and FIFA 14 is as big a culprit as any in the series: if you ping a through ball into the air from anywhere in the middle of the pitch, you can quickly watch the hapless defenders do their best impression of Laurel and Hardy.
Naturally, it’s only funny if you’re winning, and conceding multiple goals to this glitch generally means you’ll start burning through new controllers.
3. High Pressure Abuse
FIFA’s online playground can be frustrating place: while you would think most players would want a nice even game, it’s often impossible to stay calm when a player decides to employ the high pressure tactic. With a simple press of a button, defenders transform into hungry lions chasing down their dinner, which means you literally have a split second to get rid of the ball or face near certain loss of possession.
Due to complaints at the start of the year, EA increased stamina levels for all players in online modes so that you are able to play high pressure for the whole game without any players getting injured or tired. It makes keeping possession nearly impossible so unless you can adapt to the frenetic pace set by your opponent and enter a game of ping pong football, don’t expect to find any success in playing a slow tempo game.
As anyone who watches football knows, dictating the pace of a game and holding possessing usually wins you games, but not in FIFA 14, where it’s actually the opposite, which makes a mockery of the game.
4. Overpowered Headers
Is there anything more annoying than overpowered headers in FIFA 14? A problem which has plagued the series since FIFA 10, headers from set plays and crosses in play are still completely broken. As well as making most games one dimensional, the entire mechanic fails comically on every level.
Goalkeepers flap at balls, defenders get out-jumped by diminutive opponents and as the picture above shows, which was one of the first images EA used to promote the game, players like David Silva have the ability to jump around ten feet in the air. This is another area that EA don’t seem bothered with fixing and again, the comparison to rival PES 2014 is damaging.
Most people complain that crosses are too accurate and that their is too high a success ratio for scoring from headers, which is obviously a balancing issue. The modern game is no longer played that well, because the likelihood of scoring those goals decreases every season.
Moreover, much like conceding from scripting, watching David Silva or Eden Hazard consistently out jump giant defenders is a bit of a joke.
5. Player ID
Player ID is a feature sorely lacking in most sports games apart from the ever excellent 2K14 series. You would think that something as paramount to sport would be included in EA’s juggernaut by now, but year after year they churn out the same recycled player models and running styles.
PES 2013 nailed the aspect of playing with the world’s best players and what it felt like to dribble with Ronaldo, control the tempo with Xavi and dominate with Thiago Silva and while it was subsequently dropped when Konami integrated their new Fox engine, it still created the blueprint for the next step in football games.
EA would do well to use their various licences to incorporate as many playing styles as possible. They should let Iniesta dance with the ball and John Terry rough up opponents, and introduce mentality and aggression as well as unique animations and passing ranges as the game goes on. And some players should be allowed to walk around the pitch instead of jogging.
Celebrations and unique boots should not be an afterthought: player individuality is one area where PES still reigns supreme over FIFA. At the moment, every player feels the same which really detracts from the experience. In short, EA need to concentrate on the personal side of football for a change.
6. Defensive AI
While it goes without saying that FIFA 14 has improved the defensive side of its game, it’s still one of the weakest areas: defenders have two options at their disposal – either to commit to a tackle or pressure the opponent – but it’s not the user input that’s the problem. From corner kicks and fast breaks, defenders not under your direct control behave more like headless chickens than professional footballers, despite EA Sports’ attempt to eradicate dumb AI behavior.
Positioning wise, defenders make the most absurd decisions such as trying to play offside or completely jumping out of the way of a clear header. Meanwhile goalkeepers will still behave like superhuman acrobats when a shot is taken outside the box but they still don’t command the area, and simple catches are tipped over the bar and they still parry the ball back into the box nine times out of ten.
Hopefully, with the power of next gen goalkeepers have their own unique player models.
7. Transfer Market Price Fixing
The main aspect of Ultimate Team is to gather the best players in football and create the world’s greatest team – it stands to reason. Like any form of competition, the elite constantly strive to find better ways to adapt and grow as players in order to give themselves the best chance of success so as the series has grown, players have become more savvy when dealing with the in game currency.
Price fixing is when players with a lot of money manipulate the market by buying up certain players in bulk for cheap. They then bump up their prices, flood the market with them and make easy profits, which is then repeated over and over again; the more money they make, the more expensive players they use this method on.
Newcomers to the series are most affected by this but it also isn’t fair on novices or young children who can’t afford to buy the game themselves and must wait until Christmas, some three months later when the market is already practically ruined.
EA need to implement a fair system for all players, not just those who spend real money on buying coins and packs. One way to achieve this would be if EA made it impossible for players to have more than one of the same player in their club, which seems a simple rule that should have come in already: hopefully we will see it in FIFA 15.
8. The Transfer System
While on the topic of players, let’s discuss the glitch ridden transfer system at the core of both Ultimate Team and Career Mode. EA have really pushed the boat out in terms of presentation for FIFA 14 on next gen consoles, but the same problems still plague one of the most exciting aspects of world football; transfers. From marquee signings to deadline day bargain buys,there are few gameplay elements more addictive than targeting a player, scouting him and snapping him up after weeks of negotiations. It’s just a shame then that EA present this mechanic quite well only to fall at the last hurdle.
Career mode becomes a clustered mess once you start investing in your team and try to sign young starlets. The in-game scouts are totally ineffective and as you can’t see specific stats of any player on the global transfer market, so most transfers become a case of trial and error. It’s fine for the first few seasons but when players start retiring, it implodes into a mess of screens.
The frequency in which players move is also quite disengaging; seeing Lionel Messi at Real Madrid after just one season disrupts the football world you’ve built in your head and serves no purpose to the mode. Meanwhile, fine-tuning this should be simple but it continues to be ignored by EA Sports, somewhat bafflingly.
Online, things are just as bad: Ultimate Team has become almost too popular and it’s clear to see EA still haven’t found a way to balance the market. It’s extremely hard to even navigate to the exact player you wish to purchase with literately thousands of each player floating around. This creates a much bigger problem which warrants its own self contained topic…
9. Hybrid Teams
What is the point of having a game mode based solely on creating your dream fantasy team and applying silly rules that only hinder the end result?
FIFA’s best mode bar none is the excellent Ultimate Team in which you sell, trade and buy your favourite players, toss them into a team and take on the world. This singular mode has probably sold more copies of the game than all the rest combined, which makes it even more difficult to fathom why EA continue to slowly destroy it from within.
The base game within Ultimate Team is too static with chemistry between players being decided by which clubs they play for and what nationality they are aligned to. Players earn loyalty after ten games but other than that, there is no emphasis on actually building a squad that makes it impossible to become engrossed in the story of your players. Managers and coaches add nothing.
Players can’t learn new positions, and it’s an archaic model that only suppresses the brilliance of the mode. It feels like EA deliberately holds back a lot of features to encourage customers to buy those expensively priced packs but it can only be a matter of time before people are no longer prepared to continue spending huge sums of money on packs, especially with the wealth of games coming out over the next year.
It’s a dangerous game to play so early in the next gen war and EA would do well to overhaul the model before it blows up in their face.
FIFA 14 is the closest EA Sports have come to nailing the exact tempo a proper football match feels like: defenders feel slightly slower than attackers, midfield battles are engrossing and the passing is better than ever with more emphasis on counter attacking football than simply spamming to the wings and burning up the touchline.
But that doesn’t mean there’s not room for improvement, as the game still feels off and is nowhere near the pace friendly FIFA 11. Then again, you only need to take a quick look at any Ultimate Team squad online to see teams littered with speedy players throughout their starting eleven, which in itself carries a lesson.
Speed, not skill wins you matches in FIFA 14; being able to run the length of the field as quickly with Vincent Kompany as Gareth Bale is simply idiotic. Whether it’s the coding or the dodgy stats model to blame, it’s just another area where FIFA 14 is broken and needs fixing for the future of the series.
11. Close Control Dribbling
FIFA 14 streamlined the movements of players both on and off the ball but dribbling and close control are still not quite right compared to the real beautiful game. Precision dribbling is too slow and you still can’t beat a player with a deft touch or burst of pace without throwing a trick into the mix, which plainly does not reflect reality. Slower players such as Italian maestro Pirlo or Manchester United’s Juan Mata suffer greatly from this oversight as their genius is not even closely replicated, and they look like the rest of the team are carrying them.
With the power of next gen consoles, it’s time to see more realistic foot plants, unique dummied movements, shoulder shrugs and a much broader range of dribbling styles. It’s a pity that you can still only play one way if you want to be competitive. FIFA 15 needs to make technically gifted players dangerous without relying on just speed which brings me to my next point.
Let’s start off with one of the biggest and most game breaking issues that has plagued FIFA since the inception of the series. Scripting is common place in all sports games but FIFA really hammers home the point that there always seems to be something devious going on behind the flash presentation and slick interfaces.
This is especially obvious once you start to put together a string of results or get any sort of momentum going and the game begins to suspect that you’re going to start getting bored of winning, so starts adjusting the parameters of gmae play to mix things up.
Once it kicks in you can unfortunately expect the likes of Manuel Neuer to become as effective as that one kid who used to stand in goals because he didn’t want to get hurt when you were younger. Defenders start to move as if stuck in quicksand and Lionel Messi becomes Emile Heskey, in the latter days of his career. While injured.
At its best the game becomes a farce and at its worst the game becomes unplayable. Arguably, this massive issue needs to be sorted for FIFA 15 more than any other on this list.