FIFA 18 Review
Well it’s that time of year again, where we pitch our love of football against our love of gaming. With PES 2018 being out for about two weeks now, it’s time for FIFA 18 to run on to the pitch and see if they can compete.
With FIFA 18 you get the usual features like Ultimate Team, Pro Clubs (which I will put every single hour into playing until FIFA 19), Seasons and Career Mode. Each of these modes have been tweaked and updated each year and FIFA 18 is no exception.
FIFA 18 is by far the most accomplished in the series to date, with everything from their gameplay to the presentation in the games prior to kick off. Matches are no longer filled with pacey runs down the wings and banged into the box nor are they those long-range finesse shots into the right-hand corner. What you get is a much more rewarding gameplay mechanic system that rewards build-up play, flowing passes and patience, which makes the gameplay more dynamic and fluid.
You do get glimpses of the old FIFAs creeping back at times where you are trying to track a player with the ball, especially when its airborne. It’s almost like you are forced to surrender the ball through no fault of your own which can lead to a lot of frustration. There is also the lack of a little issue I have had for quite a while in number iterations of FIFA, and that is the advantage rule. There are times when you are clear through from a killer pass or about to shoot on goal and the referee will blow the whistle only to bring you back to take a free kick. One instance happened while playing Pro Clubs with my Club.
I knocked a through ball past the defence, while I was being tackled and my team-mate was clear on goal inside the 18yrd box to score and the ref blew the whistle to stop for a free-kick! This should have been classed as an advantage since we still had the ball, but the game decided no and gave us the penalty instead, PLUS, no card was given. I really feel like if this resolved that FIFA would be a vastly improved game, it disrupts the flow of the game and often leaves you more frustrated than conceding a goal.
Put those aside though, and you can see that the backbone of the game is as strong than ever! Players now have more personality when on the ball with some signature dribbling and ball controls, it makes attacks feels more pronounced, dangerous, and varied. This does make defending slightly more difficult, but experienced players can overcome this after a few games under their belts.
Penalties are much better as well, and the implementation of a new crossing system means crossing is finally a more realistic and opens more options to attempt to bang in a couple of goals. There is also the added, Quick substitutions, which for the most part don’t interrupt the flow of the game, allowing for more time spent in-game rather than in menus.
In FIFA 17 we were introduced to a new game mode, The Journey with Alex Hunter. In FIFA 18 The Journey for Alex continues, but rather than playing as an up and coming football novice, we play as a well-known star looking to become a legend. Alex will now venture outside of the Premier League to achieve his hopes and dreams.
Career mode has also been given a little bit of care and attention, like transfers which has a new back and forth mechanic where you can start a dialogue with the representatives of a team or player and work out your negotiations and terms. It kind of plays out like The Journey in that you watch a scene and select options based upon what has happened, like transfer fees, sell on clauses, loans etc… The novelty does kind of feel thin after a while, especially since there is no voice-acting and its basic setting. While Career mode has received this little add on, its mostly superficial and it’s the same mode that you have known and loved the FIFA series for. Most of you would probably side step the Career mode to play the other game modes in the game and to be fair, far more enjoyable.
First up is the Ultimate Team mode and what is probably the biggest attraction to the series each year. There is no mistaken that this mode has been a huge phenomenon in terms of success for EA and for the amount of YouTubers show of their awe-inspiring cards and even do opening card packs videos. You also get Squad Battles, a single-player focussed weekly event that tasks you with playing against hand-picked FUT squads from other players’ teams with varying chemistry levels and ratings.
As you compete against teams with a rotating set of four squads available to take on every 24 hours during the week, you’ll gather a score based on if you won, what difficulty you played on, and how many goals you scored and conceded. This is then tallied and added to a global leaderboard, with every player getting some sort of reward at the end of the week. The leaderboard is tiered, too, with the top 100 players getting a bunch of coins and some valuable card packs as a reward. The rotating teams also vary in difficulty depending on their chemistry levels and overall rating, meaning some difficulty options will be harder than what they are in other modes.
Pro Clubs is a game mode I solely purchase FIFA for. The idea of teaming up with a few mate and trying to reach Division One is what makes FIFA a great football game. Each year we got a little more of an upgrade to this game mode and last years FIFA 17 was the biggest leap in features. In FIFA 18, it’s not so much as a leap, but more of a hop. While the menus and match lobby look a little different with its new layout that lets you choose your kit, formation etc.
There’s only really one option that is now available that’s new, the players roles. It’s here where you all decide who takes the penalties, corner kicks and free-kicks. It would have been nice if they were to extend on these menus with maybe more stats or options in regards to you Club mates. The kits have also received a bit of a boost in regards to the different types of stirps that are now on offer plus colouring. This again has so much potential that I hope in future FIFAs we see them grow on this, like adding sponsors, even if they are made up ones.
So, perhaps the biggest change to Pro Clubs is your actual Pro player. You get the usual options to choose your height, weight, hair and more, though I do feel like they could have added at least tattoos in this year. We get extra boots and celebrations this year and especially the celebrations that see your players jump onto the sponsor boards and side-line walls to celebrate with fans.
Once you have played a few games you will notice that each of your stats increase depending on what you have done on the pitch. These range from shooting, passing to your tackling and stamina, all add up towards your Pros overall rating. If you go back to your main Club menu, you can add certain skill points you earned while playing to your Pros stats. This is where EA has changed the how your Pro is to develop as a player. In your Pro skills, you are treated to a Skill tree and from here you get to choose his strengths, like shooting, better finesse shots, power headers and more.
It feels like a mini RPG style menu and you can really choose how you want your Pro to play and how he develops as a player. I feel this is a great step forward into creating a more organic player for your Pro Club. I just hope EA extend on this next year and add even more to the new setup.
FIFA 18’s graphics are quite noticeably improved upon last year’s release with better lighting and vibrancy, thanks to the added HDR. Players have now gotten an overhaul, from their animations as the move about their pitch to their facial reactions to goals, near misses and more. The crowd are not just cardboard cut outs either. They now interact more with what’s going on during a match and even get in on the celebrations when you score a goal. It’s these subtle differences that add to the whole atmosphere on match day. The games presentation is always a big plus in the FIFA series and FIFA 18 has new overlays when they are introduces the games. Every just feels more vibrant and gives it that real SkySports Match Day feel.
So, FIFA 18 is an amazing achievement from the team at EA Sports Vancouver and while they have all the licenses and the presentation nailed down like every year, I feel PES 2018 has just a little more to it this year, but I feel it’s still difficult to choose which one is to be crowned king! So, I will leave that up to you!
FIFA 18 is the best FIFA game to date and the EA Sports team have done an amazing job regarding bringing the beautiful game to life. While there is a lot they can do to improve on the game, it looks better than ever! I feel 2018 will be the year footie fans can be excited about, with two giants of football gaming going head to head and finally pushing each other to do better next year!
Guardian Rating: 9/10