If you’re not a soccer fan then the fact that EA Sports FIFA series has been one of the best sport games around probably was lost on you. FIFA 14 continues that standard, and while there are no huge innovations to game play or added modes, the subtle changes make for exciting “football” that's undeniably more sophisticated than last year's game.

There hasn't been an influx of new game modes, so the old familiar ones are here: Ultimate Team or Career mode, multiplayer and the standard quick play. One of the alluring things about FIFA 14 is although there is a hardcore edge to any of the modes that you decide to play, that doesn’t deter it from being one of the more accessible mainstream games. Even the most casual fan who possesses a minimal knowledge of soccer will have no problems picking up this game and having a blast. This year EA has injected more than a small dose of realism into the game, and it's all about physics. Your player’s movement and balance are much more sensitive, and it has dramatic effects on their ability on the ball. You can see players accelerate, decelerate and shift direction—a feature dubbed Precision Movement—and it looks fluid as strikers line up their shots or midfielders skip into the box. Weight plays a major factor this year as well. Smaller players no longer have the same physical mass as the heavier lugs of the game, and shielding the ball is more effective. The amount of times you can steal possession of the ball by magically morphing through a player’s body has been greatly diminished. Some other noticeable improvements include Pure Shot, a system for more realistic shooting and Protect The Ball, where players in possession enter a defined squat to keep it that way. The combined effects of these changes form an interdependent flow of game play that makes FIFA 14 feel noticeably different to its predecessor.

That’s not to say everything’s gravy as it does have its quirky moments. With practice, holding L2/LT to protect the ball can be useful, but it changes the stance and balance of the player in possession making movement slightly slower and clumsier. Passing also isn’t as tight as it should be and is in need of an upgrade. Playing a cross-field pass is more laborious than it should be, and one-touch passing should be crisper. Minor gripes aside, EA Sports and EA Canada have done a remarkable job at overhauling how your squad responds to your movement on the field and improving your teammate’s intelligence.

XXL Endgame

At first look it will be easy to write off FIFA 14 as not looking much different from last year’s game, but under the hood is where its changes shine. When it comes to frenetic game play and high replay value, FIFA 14 has few peers.Written by DJ Rhude (@DJRhude)