Having spent the day playing the game, by the time my opportunity to talk with FIFA 14ís lead producer/creative director Sebastian Enrique finally arrives at 3pm, we are both ever so slightly zoned out.
I am red-eyed and crab-clawed from five hours of non-stop FIFA 14. Enrique ought to have been fatigued and parched from five hours of grilling, nevertheless he is accommodating and engagingly effusive.
Starting out as a software engineer on FIFA 06, Sebastian Enrique has now been involved with 10 EA Sports football games (including World Cup and Euro tie-ins) - FIFA 14 will be his eleventh.
Thereís little doubt that his understanding and love of the minutiae of the sport is inextricably linked with his passion to try to make the best football videogame around.
SPOnG: Can you tell our readers about FIFA 14ís top new features and why we should be excited about them?
Sebastian Enrique: The ones that I think are the most significant in the sense of how it affects the game or how the game is perceived, itís the trinity of Pure Shot, the Real Ball Physics and Protect The Ball.
So, Pure Shot gives you the proper visual feedback when youíre shooting, in the sense that when you approach the ball you will see the player doing the proper steps. We also have a lot of new animations for rushed shots or where the ball was too close to feet.
Maybe before you would have a shot and it was the same shooting animation so you werenít getting the proper feedback of why it was a miss... so with the new animation that weíre using and the new ways that the players approach the ball, it gives you that rewarding feeling when you hit a perfect shot, or when you miss you know [why].
Combining that with the real ball physics - what we were seeing in real life, like how the ball was moving in the air, we didnít have it in the game.
The balls changed a lot in the past four or five years; they became lighter; even the stitching affects how the ball flies through the air, and we did a lot of research - we wanted to have those shots in the game so we rewrote the ball physics engine so no we have the swerve and the rising shot. That was impossible before and now you can achieve it.
So Pure Shot with the Real Ball Physics gives you that fantastic feeling when you hit the perfect shot.
Sebastian Enrique: Protect The Ball is a new mechanic, itís very intuitive, you need to get used to it first but once you get used to it itís very powerful in the sense that it allows you to play the possession game - something that we missed in the past. People started sprinting all the time thatís why the feedback was, ďThe game is too fastĒ.
So with Protect The Ball itís one more tool that you have to be able to play the possession game, the patient game of trying to assemble a nice play.
Combine that with all the other gameplay changes weíre doing it gives you that rewarding feeling when you [put together] a nice play and then you score the goal that itís all yours and feels good.
What weíre introducing today is Precision Movement. Itís reinventing what we call locomotion... how people move. In terms of a football videogame, itís the most basic, fundamental system in the sense that how they move affects every other system in the game.
So back in the day we used to have what we call Ďcannedí animations that basically, when you want to move from point A to point B, itís a fixed animation that you cannot interrupt at any time. So it looks good because we used mocap, but, itís not as responsive.
Then we changed to a blending system where, you wanted to move point A to point B then you change your mind and wanted to move to point C, it was super-responsive but it was not really good looking... not representative of real life.
Now in 14, what weíre introducing using step-based locomotion technology is the accurate representation of how people move when they walk or when they walk or when they jog or sprint.
That is based on steps, so if you try [in real life], try changing direction at any point where you donít have a foot planted. Itís impossible, so you will trip. So what weíre doing now is respecting that law of real life physics. You can change direction, yes, when you have a foot planted. Every time you plant a foot we are considering what is the next asset to play.
This allows us to keep the proper momentum, the proper shift of body weight, and when you actually put all these systems into the game it gives us this fantastic feeling that youíre playing something that is real, so it completely changes the feeling of playing the game.