Is it truly "next-gen"? No. Still, it's good enough to satisfy your football needs for another season. Unlike what happened in the last generation, which EA Sports debuted with FIFA 06 on Xbox 360 (a horrible version of the game with mediocre gameplay and a insulting lack of content) FIFA 14 is, for the most part, a very positive transition to the new generation.
The basis of the game is essentially the same as the PS3, Xbox 360 and PC versions, with most of the same new features on and off the pitch. However, there are some touches that put this version of FIFA above all others and the main reason for this is the new graphics engine, Ignite.
For the new generation of its games, EA Sports is using Ignite technology. Some of the points that EA promotes in relation to the engine are: Human Intelligence, Real Player Movement and Living Worlds. All of this is marketing gibberish, but the truth is that the difference between September's release and FIFA 14 on next-gen is noticeable.
Visually, there is a clear supremacy. The game is super fluid, the resolution reaches 1080p and everything looks more beautiful and detailed. There is still a generation gap, since the models of the players and many of the animations seem to be the same as the PS3, Xbox 360 or PC versions, but there is a clear difference in the resolution, the crowd and in the details, such as kits and the playing surfaces.
The extra power provided by the new generation of consoles has enabled EA Sports to add more and better behaviours to the game's artificial intelligence, and there's many more animations. The players react more realistically and effectively, both on the side of the player, and the opponent. In short, FIFA 14 on the next-gen offers a superior experience in virtually all areas.
Gameplay includes all updates present in the PS3, Xbox 360 and PC versions. The player movement is more realistic and follows a new set of rules of physics, showing greater inertia. The way it affects the changes in direction or speed are impressive, but may require some getting used to by the player.
Another new feature in FIFA 14 are the shots. There is no new types of shots - basically you can kick hard, use finesse, or poke the ball over the keeper. However, the game considers more factors calculating the ball trajectory, like the angle of the player, the power applied to the shot itself and the ability of the athlete. All this has influenced the shots in the past, but not like in FIFA 14. The variety of effects and height that the ball can earn have increased dramatically and offer a delicious unpredictability to the game.
Another important change is the new action to protect the ball. The left trigger is no longer associated with skill moves (now just use the right stick for this), before being used to protect the ball. This action was possible in the past, but only standing still. In FIFA 14 you can do this while standing still, dribbling or even running. And it may even be useful when you don't have the ball, shielding it from an opponent while it goes off the pitch.
These features are all present in the current gen (last gen?) versions, but the next-gen versions have a few unique touches. To begin with, it's a lot more polished. The flow is impeccable and the game runs with a delicious smoothness. This is particularly evident by the way the players respond to the controls.
The introduction of new animations ensures an even greater variety of what you will see in the pitch. Backheels, over the ball spins and more, make for a visual treat that is simply not present in the other versions, but the most significant improvement is the artificial intelligence.
Not only is there a more effective and realistic behavior of the players, EA Sports introduced completly new possibilities. One of them is in the heading. So far, only two players could challenge aerially for a long ball - one from each team - but the new generation allows for more players to fight for it. This is particulary visible in the setpieces.
Another feature is that the game now rarely stops. If you don't press the buttons, the game will almost never break the flow. Players simply move to the area, put up the barrier or wait for the substitution. Essentially it is the same concept as the throw ins, applied to almost every situation, except for injuries. There are also some tasty new details, like having two balls on the pitch because someone throw it there.
As for game modes, there are some notorious absentees, like the Tournaments or the Creation Center, but most of the content made the transition to the new generation. The Skill Games, Carrer Mode, Ultimate Team mode. So you're likely to find your favourite mode of FIFA 14 in this version. Ideally, the complete feature set would be here, but still, you will find plenty to do on PS4 or Xbox One.
FIFA 14 on the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One is not a true next-gen FIFA, however, it is a fantastic football game, possibly the best version of the best FIFA ever. You will find quality and a level of polish to the game that simply does not exist in the other versions and, for now, that's more than enough to meet our needs. But within a year or two, we will demand a lot more from FIFA.