We find out how the latest version of the football fest is aiming to hit the back of the net on PlayStation 4.
The first thing you'll notice about EA SPORTS FIFA 14 when you see it running on PS4 is just how good it looks. Probably not in the middle of a match - you'll be too busy concentrating on the game - but definitely during replays, where you can count every individual blade of grass if you like, and then the studs on Cesc Fabregas's boots.
The players themselves are incredibly lifelike and it's almost as much fun watching other people playing the game as it is taking the controls yourself. Little clumps of grass go flying when a shot is taken, while players tumble realistically if they shoot while off balance.
How has EA SPORTS FIFA 14 made the leap onto PS4 with so much style? The all-new Ignite engine, the driving force at the heart of the game, that's how. Executive producer David Rutter explains more: "It just gives us much more flexibility. EA Canada and Tiburon have both been working on it for roughly a year, refining the technology so that we have this really robust, clever engine to build the game around."
Each new edition of a FIFA title boasts improvements in key areas. This year, Rutter and his team are talking about three pillars that will underpin EA SPORTS FIFA 14 on both PS4 and PlayStation 3.
"Obviously we're focused on what happens on the pitch, but we thought we'd take a look at the stuff surrounding it too," Rutter says. That all-important match day atmosphere is being cranked up thanks to fans modelled in 3D who each look different from one another as well as grounds that are faithfully recreated inside and out. The effects are really noticeable when you walk towards the crowd to take a corner.
"Unscripted sequences give you unpredictable games. There's so much memory in PS4 that we can chuck lots of new moves and characteristics into it and all these little details add up." That means there are far more new moves and animations for players to call upon, whether they're under your control or the computer's. It also means you'll find it harder to second guess what might be about to happen - so you'll come to feel nervous when you spot Lionel Messi jinking towards the edge of the box. New Barcelona recruit Neymar has a devastating range of flicks and lightning fast turns, too.
True Player Motion
"Football's a contact sport, and how the players react to each other is so important to your belief in the game." There's a real sense of weight to the players, in that they'll shield the ball from opponents more effectively. "On the one hand that gives you a second to weigh up where you're going to send the ball - but if you're the bloke trying to get possession, you're going to have a hard time unless your timing's right," Rutter says.
Elsewhere, the business end of the game, the shooting, has been overhauled and just launching a sweetly timed shot feels satisfying, regardless of where it ends up. Countless calculations influence a shot's success - a player's speed, stance, size and skill are just a snippet of these - and you'll notice more shots and long passes curling and swerving, ideally tantalisingly out of the goalkeeper's reach.
It's out later in 2013 for PS4 and PS3, and for now it's very clear that the core experience - the faster, more natural, dynamic gameplay - will continue to flourish in the step across generations. Kick-off is hotly anticipated so keep an on eu.playstation.com for more updates ahead of the game's launch.