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Jun 13, 2014

FIFA World Cup - Brazil

EA Sports' latest FIFA offering brings the 2014 World Cup to life.
Rating:

After 48 years of hurt, England are finally world champions again. The Three Lions did not wilt in the heat of Brazil, they blossomed. In one of the greatest upsets in World Cup final history, Roy Hodgson's boys beat the host nation -- goals from Adam Lallana and Wayne Rooney securing a 2-0 win and writing a new chapter in England's history.

No, this is not a dream. It's reality. Okay, okay -- virtual reality.

Played on a big screen, with the volume cranked up, the sights and sounds of the Samba nation are in brilliant technicolour and blaring out. I know I'm not in Brazil, but EA Sports have done a grand job of making me feel I might be.

After breaking new ground with FIFA 14, the best version yet of the world's most popular football sim, the World Cup in Brazil deserved -- nay, demanded -- a special edition from EA. Sure enough they obliged. With all 12 brand-spanking new stadiums -- finished before the arenas themselves in the most part -- available, "FIFA World Cup - Brazil" is an immersive offering with a carnival atmosphere (the crowd scenes are remarkably realistic, with cutaways to Trafalgar Square greeting England goals), excellent gameplay and no shortage of witty banter from Andy Goldstein, Ian Darke and ESPN FC's Men in Blazers. Plus, in contrast to their performance at the Sao Paulo curtain-raiser on June 12, Pitbull and Jennifer Lopez's World Cup ditty is perfectly audible. (Come to think of it, maybe that isn't a positive point).

There has been some criticism of the availability of the game, seeing as though it cannot be bought for PlayStation 4, X-Box One or PC, but for the majority -- specifically markets like Brazil, according to EA Sports -- it's availability on old consoles is not a major disappointment.

There is a smorgasbord of different modes, with "Road to the FIFA World Cup" allowing players, for only the second time, to play through entire qualification campaigns for all confederations. If you want to try to take Chinese Taipei to Brazil, you flippin' well can! Player-centric mode "Captain Your Country" allows you to work your way up from squad player to World Cup-winning skipper, while "Road to Rio de Janeiro" is an online tournament across the 12 venues and "Online FIFA World Cup," "Story of Qualifying," and "Story of the Finals" return from the game's 2010 edition.

In terms of gameplay, dribbling is supposed to be more responsive, but a few new Brazilian-inspired tricks aside, it is not all that noticeable. Passing does seem a little more accurate, but in truth the advances from FIFA 14 are not exactly pioneering. Really, though, that is not a major issue. Most people who buy the game are doing so to claim a memento of what is sure to be a memorable World Cup. As the world's best players live their dreams in Brazil this summer, "FIFA World Cup" helps bring the buzz of the globe's greatest sporting show to the fans who can't make it to South America.