Ultimate Team shines once again, but has new gameplay helped or hindered FIFA 19?
Words by Jason Sewald
Another year another FIFA. What more can be said about EAs world dominating sports game that hasn’t already been said before? But, this years FIFA came with a lot less fanfare than expected. Every year EA try to make the game bigger and better by getting more licences on player likenesses, stadiums and competitions, and they certainly have gone bigger by announcing that they have acquired the rights to the Champions League. However, has that made the game better? Let’s find out.
FIFA 17 saw the rise of Alex Hunter and we played with him through his years at the youth academy all the way through to football stardom in FIFA 18 and this years FIFA sees the conclusion to his incredible journey. Without giving anything away, the performances have improved and Adetomiwa Edun (the man who plays Hunter) really makes the role his own. The supporting cast and football celebrities put in a fantastic effort to make this my favourite saga of Hunter’s story and makes me excited to see what EA will go for next. Hopefully, this will be a similar move to the NBA 2K games where you create your own character so you can fully immerse yourself in the story.
Now as I said, this years FIFA came with less hype than usual, even though they have acquired the Champions League license and in my opinion, that comes down to 2 factors. Firstly; before the game has come out a lot of videos went viral bashing the game saying that it’s not worth buying. Now if anyone follows my Twitter knows that a lot of the “criticisms” such videos made were all tied to one thing: Career Mode. I understand that with every new game you want changes, however, Career Mode is now one small aspect of FIFA and they’re not going to focus their entire attention to it. They have made changes regarding the development of your youngsters but funnily enough, a lot more people were more upset about the layout of the career menu and if that’s the primary source of your outrage you shouldn’t be taken seriously at all. The second factor is that PES came out with a really good game and although it lost its biggest appeal (CL), they made up for it in excellent gameplay and graphics which managed to turn a lot of heads. For Career Mode and its lack of hype, FIFA did manage to get another thing spot on apart from its story mode and that’s Ultimate Team. You can really tell that they upped their game for this mode by offering new game modes such as division rivals, which manage to reward you incredibly well, so you can keep up with people who just splash the cash to get ahead.
Moving on to the gameplay; the fundamentals are the same as any FIFA, however, small tweaks here and there have made the game a lot smoother and one neat thing they have added is that when you’re in a match and want to switch players the player you’re most likely will switch too has a little white arrow above him/her so you know ahead what your next move will be when defending. The game has slowed down as well, so it rewards a tikki takka style of play rather than the sprint past everyone and score, which was a problem with previous editions. But, I feel like it’s slowed down too much because decisions such as first time pass seem like they take forever but that’s a case for the problem section which we will move on to next.
FIFA is not without its problems, however, this year’s problems seem to have quite a bit of them such as slowing down of gameplay, on top of that pace seems to mean nothing when you have the ball now and this is clearly apparent in the FUT mode. Having a Striker with 90 Pace should leave a defender with 61 in the dust assuming he/she has enough space to do so, but I feel like when your on the ball that is not the case. Another problem I believe is the rendering of players, which for the most part they have gotten right but small time players such as Capoue from Watford seem to be made with little to no care and you can actually still see squares on top of his head which makes it quite immersive breaking. The last bone I want to pick is that the R1 finesse seems to be the primary choice of bangers again, even though it worked out for me many times being able to score from 38 yards out with a finesse shot makes the game very tedious, especially if you are on the receiving end to it. EA not being able to sort out the problem still makes me question if they actually believe that this is a common occurrence in world football.
With everything said I truly enjoy the FUT mode and I believe that it’s FIFA most redeemable aspect of the game which is quite a given since it’s the most profitable mode of theirs, but even so, I don’t think I have ever had such fun playing the mode without spending actual cash. FUT aside, some of the gameplay problems are quite apparent and for that, I will give FIFA a 6/10. It is just above average for a sports game and most of it is due to the Ultimate Team mode and for that, it only makes it a filler game for me.