What does PS4 bring to FIFA 14?

Should you want to know how the PS3 version of EA Sports’ mammoth football franchise has fared, wander over to our FIFA 14 PS3 review (hint: it’s really rather good). But if you’re more interested in all things shiny and next-gen (and we can’t blame you for that), then read on.

FIFA 14 PS4 hands-on preview

Because we’ve once again had the chance to go hands-on with the only football game coming to PS4 this year, and next-gen FIFA 14 still shaping up nicely. The most striking difference is how much smoother things feel compared to the current generation counterpart. And with ten times the number of animations crammed in there, this is hardly surprising.

It means players can react to the ball – and each other – in far more varied and realistic ways, allowing passes to run across them if the weight is correct, turning in tighter circles and changing direction more quickly, or hopping over outstretched limbs in order to avoid contact. And when you do accidentally collide, or are on the receiving end of a Lee Cattermole-approved reducer, the outcome is now based entirely on how the players come together and at what speed, with no recourse to pre-canned results whatsoever. There will be blood substitutions.

Slightly less integral to the action on the field, although significant in terms of what it adds to the overall realism factor of individual matches, is that crowds are no longer populated by cardboard cut-outs whose support would come to a swift and messy end at a moderate gust of wind. Now fans are properly modelled individuals, which means they can react more authentically to the on-pitch action – something that can significantly up the atmosphere when you see them go feral after a last-minute winner, or groan en masse as Nicklas Bendtner shanks another great chance into the stands.

As you’d expect, the visuals have also been significantly kicked up – for one thing that game now
runs in glorious 1080p. (For the technology-allergic among you this means sharper images and more
space on the screen for fine detail. It’s ‘a good thing’ is the general thrust.) Additionally, player faces are more realistic than ever, grass looks like grass, there’s increased authenticity in the weather effects, and bespoke footballing styles mean you can identify the big names by their mannerisms to an even greater extent. Oh, and the game can predict the future. Not in the sense that you should ask it for the lottery numbers or if that seemingly sweet girl you’re engaged to is actually going to end up running off with your best friend, stealing your tortoise and taking… wait, what?

Oh yeah, FIFA’s all-new crystal ball. Known as Pro Instincts, what this really means is that player AI enables them to better anticipate how a given situation is going to play out. This might mean them making a more intelligent run into space so you can ping a penetrative through ball, stepping back into a defensive position in order to cover for a player who’s gone walkies, or trying to hurdle out of the way when a tackle comes flying in. (Even though they look nice and realistic now, even computerised players are keen to avoid a studs-up leg-breaker.)

And it definitely works: forwards and full-backs create far better passing channels when running in behind opposition defences, and your centre backs are less prone to idly wandering upfield as though they’ve spotted a really shiny penny in the centre circle.

So it looks better, plays better, and it’s already one of the biggest games on the planet. Add in the fact that the menus have finally been tweaked, online play is set to be more robust than ever, and increased connectivity means you’ll be plugged into the real world of football to an even greater degree, and there’s no denying that FIFA 14 is one of PlayStation 4’s most exciting prospects.

Plus, it’s not simply a prettied-up port of the current-gen version (although no doubt it’d still sell four gazillion copies even if it was) – there are the kind of meaningful changes in there that you’re hoping for. And if you just can’t wait, then fear not: your rosters, in-game items and currency for Ultimate Team will transfer between the PS3 version and next-gen. Start filling that ‘gold Bale’ bank account now.