FIFA 14 Features

FeatureThe mystery of FIFA Ultimate Team's rarest items

Forget FUT Legends - we're on the trail of teal cards, the most elusive items in the game's history.

Looking back on my life, there is one very good reason I wish I had been a professional footballer. I can live without the fame and fortune, it turns out, and while it saddens me that I will never appear on Dancing on Ice, I have learned to bear that pain as well. No, the real reason I wish I'd been a professional footballer is so that someday, way down the line, EA Canada would give me a one-of-a-kind player card in FIFA Ultimate Team.

FeatureHas EA Sports broken FIFA 14 by trying to fix it?

The latest patch promises balance but strips out fun in the process.

In this age of games we play and pump money into all year round, developers have to be more careful than ever about how they handle change. Tweak things too little and fans may grow restless and hitch their wallet to another post. Tweak them too much, however, and those same fans may feel the rug has been pulled out from under them and reconsider their options anyway.

FIFA 14 preview: A different game, but not necessarily a better one

Short-blanket syndrome: a term used to describe having inadequate resources to deal with a fixed problem. It's cold, you're in bed, your blanket is a just a bit too small. Either your feet or your shoulders will get cold. All you can do is choose which way to suffer.

I couldn't help but think of this phrase while playing FIFA 14. Hundreds of thousands of hours have been poured into the franchise to get it to the point where it stands now, and the fundamentals of the game's mechanics - the very foundations upon which this towering behemoth has been built - are resolutely fixed.

Most of these foundations, of course, are based in the rules of football themselves. Others have been found through a process of trial and error. Camera angles, instant replays, celebrations: here to stay, you would have thought. User-controlled diving, trialled in FIFA 99, didn't really work. The 'hack' button - pressing R1 to scythe down a player for an instant red card, from FIFA 2001, was quickly abandoned. FIFA International Soccer was released 20 years ago this July and, by and large, the most important parts of making a good football game have been worked out. So, in a business model where people have to buy a new game each year, what are you left with?

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Throughout FIFA's golden period, which has been in effect from FIFA 09 or 10, depending on your point of view, I've found a constant: once the new game comes out you quickly get used to it and then you wonder how you ever played the last version in the first place. Changes are almost always for the better (even the sometimes hilarious Player Impact Engine has proved itself a valuable addition). When the dust of the arguments around new features and gameplay tweaks settles, almost everyone is left happily playing the latest version. With FIFA, there's no going back.