Another year, another FIFA game and with this iteration, it’s starting to show why sports games don’t need a yearly iteration. FIFA 18 does well with some of the smaller tweaks on the pitch but off the pitch well…
As one of the world’s most popular sports games, it’s almost easy to understand why this is the go to title annually. You are getting nearly all of the licensed competitions and teams, the player models look gorgeous and the presentation, if you are not looking too closely, is comparable to a TV presentation. Graphically speaking, with the Frostbite engine powering the game for a 2nd year, there are minute, incremental improvements to how the game looks but still it’s great. The details of the kits, the lighting angles in some of the stadiums and even some of the coaching likenesses used are still amazing to look at. One of the other incremental improvements is that for once, the crowd doesn’t look too much like cardboard cutouts. However, while some of the stadium/natural lighting looks great, it still feels static. Even the Madden series fixed this awhile ago as if you start a game at one time, by game’s end, you can see the change of light on the pitch. Yes, I know that seems minor but as much realism that’s touted in these games, it should be easily doable. These issues feel like there has been no change from last year but that’s neither here nor there as far as gameplay is concerned.
As far as game modes are concerned, most of the menu options feels mostly unchanged and that is not exactly a bad thing. Everything is still here including FUT, as well as the 2nd year of The Journey and most veterans will already know which modes they want to try. The Manager Career Mode feels largely unchanged but again, with one small tweak in contract negotiations. This time around you actually get to have a sit down with the players and their agents but, this feels like a mode that was needlessly tacked on. It’s great that the two sides can go back and forth over the contract right then and there, while not having to wait for an email and even negotiate wages and sell on clauses however it feels like it’s executed so poorly. Thankfully after watching the first one or two times you can skip to get to the haggling part. Everything else still feels the same including random emails of players who feel like they want more time on the pitch and the dreaded media days which is just window dressing. I feel like if FIFA took a page from Sega’s Football Manager series, the Manager Career mode would feel more complete. This year feels like more of the same.
The Journey Part II feels a bit more fleshed out as now you get to actually consider a move away from the Premier League. It’s a nice touch that legends like Cristiano Ronaldo, and Rio Ferdinand lend their voices to the game as well. While I haven’t had a chance to deep delve into the mode, I am hoping that at this point, this mode will let you play beyond one season. Let’s call it for what it is, it’s the Virtual Pro mode that most of us would want except we can’t make our player from the ground up.
With all of its off of the pitch, the game is still good on the pitch. One small incremental upgrade that has been finally fixed after all of these years is that every time a team kicks off, players actually start by facing their team to kick the ball to your teammates as opposed to doing an awkward kick and then kicking it back. It’s a small, but it’s a major thing. Otherwise, the game feels a bit slowed down from last year and its pretty good that unless you toy around with the settings not every player on the pitch will outrun you on a good counter attack. Passes feel weightier then before as players seem like they do a lot more to bring the ball in and protect the ball as its passed to them. Tackles don’t feel as cheap and players still have to work to score. One thing that feels improved, is that now when shots miss and rebound off of the goal, depending on the team, players will actually play the ball to try and shoot again. Another small improvement is the ability to instantly sub your players with the right trigger button. It feels so seamless and it makes you wonder why this hasn’t been done before.
As far as the commentary and sounds of the game, it still feels spot on in most parts. Commentary is always refreshing although we already know once we reach a certain point it will be repetitive. The only problem still is that in between games in Career Mode, the voice reading the results still sounds dull and lifeless. It would be nice if in the process of reading the score, that perhaps announcing who scored a hat trick or a goalkeeper making saves could be heard. Beyond that, it’s a lot that remains unchanged.
To sum up, like EA Sports Madden series, hardcore FIFA fans with get this game, no questions asked. But even still, one has to ask that for what we are paying for, why are we still paying full price for a glorified roster update? As much as I have liked FIFA over the years, if it wasn’t for continuation of The Journey mode, I would be sorely be tempted to sit this one out.
2.85 Free Kicks out of 5