Gaming reviews: FIFA 14; Harvest Moon: A New Beginning; GTA V Online
PS3, Xbox 360, PC, iOS, Android, 3DS, Vita, Wii
The FIFA franchise is like Manchester United – champions in their field. But like David Moyes, how do the developers of the latest instalment improve a winning formula? For the most part, they've kept it the same. The menus are almost identical, the graphics aren't improved and the cut scenes aren't really updated. At first glance, FIFA 14 looks a little too familiar, and even tired. The star signing (or the Marouane Fellaini, if you will) is the introduction of Precision Movement. Players noticeably shift their weight and their ability to perform skills and passes is affected by balance.
At first it proves frustrating, with passes taking vital moments to be executed and sprinting feeling sluggish. Yet over time, piecing together slick moves and shooting chances feels like it's been earned – and it's consequently all the more satisfying when things come off. Other improvements include the AI of your team-mates, the satisfying success rate of chipped through balls – and Jeff Stelling's introduction to the commentary team. FIFA remains the champion, but greater strides may be needed in the near future to keep it on top.
Harvest Moon: A New Beginning
Marvelous AQL Europe
In a leap away from the likes of GTA V, Harvest Moon is all about being nice to people and taking care of things. Echo Farm starts off sparse: players must build up the town by growing vegetables to sell, and feeding their livestock. Tending to crops might not be to everyone's taste, but it does have a lot of little extras to offer – although the intro and training is long, tedious and drawn out. If you've had enough of a life of crime in Los Santos, this could be a quaint contrast.
GTA V Online
Free with GTA V (£54.99)
PlayStation 3, Xbox 360
As if GTA V wasn't enough of a time-sink, this week saw the launch of GTA Online. Built niftily into the existing multi-viewpoint framework, you can switch to a user-created character with 15 other human players for minigames, teaming up to complete jobs – or simply to run around and shoot each other. While busy servers mean that the experience isn't yet without hiccups, realising the potential of Los Santos with friends is hugely satisfying – though the option to spend real-life money means it could be pricey.
Diving in at the deep end is no excuse for shirking the style stakes
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