After spending ages trying to finally get IGN’s stream for E3 sorted, my screen flew straight into Electronic Arts showcasing their up-and-coming sports titles.
Theatrical hyperbole aside, the next FIFA looks like it will be good fun.
It’s hard to gauge how games advance from previous instalments when you’re looking at footage from a convention. EA have, as expected, poured hundreds of hours into making sure that that close-up of Gerard Pique was so perfect that you simply lose your senses, when really we should be focussing on how the evolution of ball physi- HOLY HELL DID YOU SEE HOW REALISTIC THE CROWD LOOKED?
What we do know is that not much has changed, everything has just improved. Don’t forget, EA are learning to harness the power of the next-generation consoles, just like everyone else. The power of the Playstation 4 and Xbox One has gone largely untapped so shortly after their release, but taking a look at the differences in performance between previous and current generation versions of FIFA shows that there’s still a noticeable swing in next-gen’s favour.
The big line being touted by the company is that we will feel the game – your senses will be indulged, and the players that you control will react to what you see on your screen. Heads will drop if they’re losing and the clock is edging closer to full time, goals against derby rivals will be more passionately celebrated. The sense of occasion that EA are trying to instill in the players looks like it could go a long way to building immersion.
Heightened physicality is a feature too, with body-to-body challenges and encounters feeling more reactive and, well, real. You can only infer so much from the conference, but the discussion of players having an ’emotional intelligence’ means that you could see grudge matches unfold live on the pitch. Get too shirty with another player, and you could see them returning the favour. Avoid Luis Suarez at all costs.
These features may all seem quite cosmetic, but it shows progress. Shirts, shorts, boots – everything can get dirty and leave its mark on you. Corner flags will react dynamically, and rocketing a shot off the crossbar will see the woodwork shake violently as it fights to hold its foundations. Hell, even the crowd looks cooler and more realistic, and sliding will leave boot marks on the pitch, much like Sol Campbell did when he decided to break the laws of physics.
As arbitrary as it may sound, these features show how everything is improving across the board. The squads, boots and stats will still be updated, and the features will be tweaked. I’ve skated over the new dynamic touch reaction stuff because not only will everyone be discussing it, but I also don’t really know how to quantify and describe something which sounds like a dramatic way of saying ‘we tuned the physics.’
Sometimes I feel like reading too much into new FIFA releases is a waste of my time – I know I’m still going to buy it regardless. So far though, it looks like its on the right track, and Electronic Arts will keep the magic coming.