The DLC-only release of Euro 2012 led some to believe the next World Cup title would also be a purely digital affair, but those rumours were cast aside when EA confirmed it would be a full retail release, allowing fans of physical copies to buy the boxed version, take it home and cradle it forcefully against their chest while whimpering quietly.
Of course, a full-fat release means a full-fat £39.99 price to go with it, meaning 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil has to offer more than the Euro spin-off did in order to justify costing more than double. Thankfully, it does manage this... just about. At first glance you'd be forgiven for thinking the game was little more than a reskinned mod of FIFA 14. The garish new Brazil-themed menus may look like the loser of a particularly vicious paintball fight, but despite their new colour scheme they're still laid out similarly to last September's main offering.
Also instantly familiar will be the action on the pitch. Historically these summer spin-off games for the World Cup and Euros, released in between annual FIFA titles, are considered the first draft of the next main entry in the series. Any changes made to the gameplay mechanics, physics or controls planned for the next FIFA tend to make their debut in these games first as EA Canada tries them out. This time, however, there are very few noticeable changes in the overall feel of the game and if you've been playing the Xbox 360 version of FIFA 14 since release it's unlikely you'll have to adapt your playing style in the slightest.
The only major additions to the actual matches are cosmetic ones. Naturally, all the World Cup stadia are featured in the game (as are others from around the world such as Wembley and the like), but the managers of the 32 teams who qualified are also present in the game, and they appear in cutscenes looking suitably chuffed or despondent depending on how the match is going.
There are also occasional shots of fans clad head to toe in their nation's colours, either cheering from the stands or from home, with slightly odd and underwhelming cutscenes showing big groups of supporters watching giant screens in locations all over the world. None of these extra presentational flourishes do anything to evolve the football game genre but they do at least go some way to getting you in the World Cup mood.
The new commentary is similarly appreciated, with plenty of team-specific tidbits and factoids being mentioned on a regular basis as you play through the tournament with your chosen team. There's still the occasional error - the commentators saying you're playing your third group game when it's only your second, and so forth - but much like the game's look and feel, this is nothing new for the FIFA series.
Of course, taking part in a tournament in which you'll only play a maximum of seven matches will only hold your attention for so long, which is why 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil has a number of other modes designed to keep you interested. The Road To World Cup mode extends the tournament back a year or two to the initial qualifying phase, allowing you to play as any of the 203 nations who took part (i.e. Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland) and actually make it to the Finals before then trying to win the cup itself.
The Captain Your Country mode from previous World Cup games also makes a return. This lets you either create a player or choose an existing one and starts you off on the fringes of your country's B-side. As the qualifying phase approaches you first have to make it into the main team and then eventually become captain, qualifying for and winning the World Cup in the process.