The bane of every girlfriend's life
The bane of every girlfriend's life

It’s that time of year again where girlfriends will be ignored, lectures will be missed and the FIFA drinking game makes a valiant return. That’s right, FIFA 14 is back, for those of you hoping for a whole host of radical changes then this is not perhaps the game for you; the changes from FIFA 13 are minor and there are new features but why change a winning formula? The gameplay changes are mostly little tweaks that improve upon the changes made last year and put a greater emphasis on your first touch.

The game does feel a lot more balanced; pace abuse is not so much an issue now. While pace is still a factor, it’s not as overpowered as it was last year; this year it’s all about strength and it looks like Zlatan will be one of the best players in the game. There’s also a huge focus on your first touch, it’s been slowed down a lot and this affects the game massively. You have to plan your turns ahead of the play; if you wait to take a touch and then turn, the opposition will be all over you like a cat in heat, it’s a lot more like real life, except for that cat in heat part. It will take some getting used to but it means the whole tempo of the game is a lot slower, I found you have to build play up a lot more, one touch passing will create a lot more space as defenders can’t turn nearly as quickly, but you need the right players with good passing.

The off the ball runs work in tandem with good build up play, the runs are a lot more intelligent and incisive, the chipped through ball is not as effective as previous years so it looks like moving the ball side to side will be key to unlocking defences. The shooting mechanics have been improved this year so players will adjust their stride when shooting; from what I’ve experienced you have to really shape yourself to shoot first; otherwise it will just trickle towards the keeper like water through a soil with low porosity.

In terms of game modes there’s still more modes than you can shake a beam at. There are various changes to individual modes; the best new mode is the 2v2 seasons. Now you and a friend online can face off against two other players online, I’ve tested this mode with my brother in Manchester and it is phenomenal. With two players the movement is that much slicker than what the computer can produce, the defending can get tricky with two players but it’s all about the communication.

The Xbox 360 version hasn’t changed much, but with FIFA’s reputation it doesn’t need to and the improvements that were made are what the fans asked for. What will be interesting is what the Xbox One version can produce, EA is using the new Ignite Engine and if the trailers for the living and breathing stadiums are anything to go by then I’m going to need a few more pairs of boxers.