Fifa 14 launches on Xbox 360, PC and PS3 - player ratings scrutinized

Latest update to the long-running franchise met with excitement from fans and players alike

After the excitement of the launch of GTA 5, the next big news in the gaming calendar is today’s launch of Fifa 14.

The game is being sold by retailers for around £39.99 (though Sainsbury’s are offering it for £32 when you spend £30 in store) but for fans that can’t wait to get to a store, EA have also released a free app for Android and iOS devices.

The latest update to the 21-year-old franchise has a put a new emphasis on possession, especially with a new gameplay feature named ‘Protect the Ball’. EA are calling it an “intuitive mechanic”, with the official description informing players:

“Now, when a ball carrier is being pulled while advancing, they will be able to counter this by stepping in front of the defender and using their body to shield the ball. With the ball at their feet, players will be able to step into the opposition and hold them off to maintain possession and make a pass.”

Reviewers who have tested out the demo of Fifa 14 have also reported that the overall pace of the game has been slowed, a decision that has been met with mixed reactions. Some gamers have complained that the change makes the game feel sluggish, whilst others have praised the new speed for more realistically rendering the beautiful game.

Another new feature is Pure Shot, which allows players to make more adjustments to their stride and approach angle when hitting the ball. Off-balance or rushed shots will “hinder the accuracy and strength of the attempt” with the game rewarding “a combination of perfect timing, anticipation, and great positioning.”

The launch of the game will also see fans (and players) poring over Fifa's ranking of players, though the top 50 athletes are available to scrutinize on EA's site.

Each player is rated on  their goal scoring, passing, pace, dribbling, defending, heading, their 'skill moves' and their and ability to kick with either foot. Lionel Messi has been given the top rating this year, followed by Cristiano Ronaldo and Radamel Falcao.

Gareth Bale may recently have become the world's most expensive player following his £86 million move to Real Madrid but he only comes 17th in Fifa's ranking with the best player from an English club judged to be Robin van Persie - the Manchester United striker is 7th.

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