In less than two months, the biggest show on Earth, the Fifa World Cup, commences in Brazil. If you refuse to pay to watch live telecasts of World Cup matches, you can play the official game instead.
While the game is cheaper than the pay-TV fee, it is available only for older-generation consoles - the PlayStation 3 and the Xbox 360.
So, if you have been accustomed to the gorgeous graphics of new-generation consoles, get ready for cringe-worthy jagged edges and the rough textures of players and spectators.
But it has to be said that the presentation is outstanding. It totally captures the Brazilian samba spirit, with its flashy palette and the thematic colours of the World Cup.
Every match starts with a moving aerial view of the stadium, before zooming in on the pitch as the players walk out of the tunnel.
The traditional giants of the game, such as England and Italy, have their national anthems played before a match. But play Singapore and you go straight into the starting line-up window. No national anthem, no close-ups of players singing. The Singapore national players do not look anything like the real McCoy.
The players' faces of footballing superpowers, such as Brazil and Germany, are realistically re-created. Even their jerseys are faithfully reproduced, changing from the kit worn during the qualifiers to the new jerseys meant for Brazil.
As there are more than 200 Fifa-sanctioned national teams and 7,000 players in the game, it is probably difficult to reproduce the realism in each and every team.
However, in terms of gameplay realism, this game has an edge over Fifa 14. If you are controlling a quality player, you can turn more quickly at any angle, yet keep control of the ball. Passing is also more crisp, with more accurate player movements when each player passes with his outstep or instep.
At the knockout stage, there may be penalty shoot-outs. Goalkeepers can now distract the penalty takers by pointing where to shoot or doing a deft imitation of Bruce Grobbelaar's wobbly knees.
There are several modes to play. Other than the quick Kick Off, Online Friendlies, Story Of Qualifying and 2014 Fifa World Cup modes, there are the addictive Road To The Fifa World Cup and Captain Your Country modes.
Road To The Fifa World Cup is the most extensive and time-consuming mode, as you choose to play as one nation through training sessions, friendlies and qualifying rounds, before proceeding to the group stages of the tournament. You can improve your players' ratings by making them train in particular skills, such as defending or passing.
My personal favourite is the Captain Your Country mode. This is similar to the Road To The Fifa World Cup mode, but you can create your own avatar and play as a team member instead of the whole team. Your aim is to gain high ratings during matches, train well and impress your coach, so you will become the captain and lead your country to glory.
Before June 13, the 2014 Fifa World Cup Brazil may slake your thirst for World Cup football, with its outstanding atmosphere, authentic player movements and addictive modes.
But once the tournament is over in July, the game may well end up gathering dust.
This article was published on May 7 in Digital Life, The Straits Times.
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