First, the bad news: EA Canada's virtual recreation of this summer's Brazilliant footballing bonanza is only coming to PS3 and Xbox 360. (It's been in development for 15 months, and so next-gen was never on the cards.) Now, the good: it still serves up a fine round of sphere-booting and Australia-beating. Those used to PS4 FIFA will initially find it fast and frantic, but you settle into things after a couple of games, and then notice a few areas where it's actually improved upon the studio's next-gen effort.
Heading is toned down so it's harder to score with your bonce, defenders leap over forwards to nod aerial balls clear, and AI players are a touch shrewder--shepherding the ball out of play when it's set to be their goal kick or throw-in, for instance. Happily, penalties have been simplified too: you can no longer put the ball over or wide if you stop the needle in the green part of the traditional accuracy meter.
Being the official game of the biggest sports event in the universe (fret not, I still consider the Super Bowl a close second), this of course packs in all the stadia, teams, kits, squads and managers who'll feature this summer, virtual Woy woaming the touchline as furiously as in real life. But here's the astonishing part: it also features all the nations who didn't qualify for shenanigans in South America. That's 203 countries in total, from Argentina and France to American Samoa and Fiji. Simply incredible depth, and each can be used to replay qualifying or be inserted into your own custom World Cup.
In previous games of this ilk, there was little to do on the path to a major tournament (or indeed at the tourney itself) beyond play matches. Here, however, you get to improve squad members by placing them in FIFA's famed mini-games. Four can be upgraded in between each match, with results correlating directly to the mini-game you choose--so a sterling performance in the shooting drill raises a player's finishing stats. It's a welcome diversion from the match-match-match grind, and is typical of the other tweaks made here. More evolution than revolution, then. However--on this evidence--it’s enough to justify significant interest even if you've already invested in this game's bigger PS4 / Xbox One brother.
Click through for more images and info from the game.