Every year a new FIFA arrives and every year reviewers copy and paste their review from the year before – 9/10, job done and so the cash tills overflow, along with EA’s coffers. This year, things have changed, because for once can you actually notice the subtle changes to gameplay, well slightly anyway.
The buzzwords actually make some difference to what plays out in front of you this time around, the active touch system provides the neat little flick up volleys, disguised touch and has the animations to match. There’s also Timed Finishing, allowing you to double tap shoot to provide more accuracy and power to your attempt at goal, although most people I know have already switched this off.
One other feature you may notice is the Dynamic Tactics, a fancy way of saying you can change the way your team plays the game during the match, be that with formations, the mentality of your team or its playstyle, oh and apparently every challenge matters now, thanks to a change to 50/50 battles. So that’s what’s changed for good and bad.
It’s fair to say this all takes a while to get used to, although there’s always a bedding in period for new FIFA games, Maybe you’ll eventually turn on Timed Finishing for instance? Not that I have, or indeed have I ever got used to the change to defending from a few years ago, with one of my first moves always being to head into the menu and change the option to Legacy Defending.
Writing a review for FIFA does always feel like a bit of a waste of time because as a rule, not that much changes from year to year. This means all the game modes you are used to are still there, albeit with a few tweaks and this year there’s even the added bonus of The Champion’s League, which will no doubt excite Ultimate Team players more than anyone else.
Speaking of Ultimate Team, this is EA’s big money spinner, so it seems a good place to start, although once it gets its hooks into you, it’s likely the only mode you’ll end up playing. Last year I was addicted to Squad Battles and it’s no different this year. I love that you can play various matches and win packs and coins, it’s a much better alternative than having to buy them and kind on my wallet too. I do wish you could make the matches shorter as having to play four matches a day can take a lot of time when you have a busy schedule, but you can’t have everything I don’t suppose.
There’s an absolute ton of modes within Ultimate Team itself, including a new addition in the shape of Division Rivals, where you’ll match up against players of a similar skill level. The higher your division, the better the rewards you’ll earn, but to get up to the heights you’ll likely need to make sure you spend some money out on a decent team. Personally, I’m going to try and avoid spending hundreds of pounds on Ultimate Team cards this year. Maybe I’ll see if I can build one without spending a penny (not likely).
EA has also made some changes to the Career Mode this year. It’s a mode I used to love spending time in, but I’ve found myself in Ultimate Team more and more, which means I’ve neglected Career Mode throughout the years. This time around EA has included Champions League Integration, Dynamic Tactics and an Ultimate difficulty level too, while there are also brand-new training games such as Race against the clock, 1-2 Passing, Obstacle Shooting and more.
If Career or Ultimate Team is not your thing, then why are you playing FIFA? But seriously, if for some reason you are buying FIFA for the story, then you can at least sink your teeth into The Journey. This time around Alex Hunter is joined by Danny Williams and Kim Hunter, each with their own complete story, allowing you to follow the path of all three, or if you like, just follow one character and see their story through to the end. I’ve always found The Journey to be a decent story and it’s certainly got better over the three years of its existence. I’ve loved the opening this time around, as it looks back on Jim Hunter and gives a 60’s themed match to play through, complete with authentic crunching tackles and old-fashioned commentary. Sure I understand most people will skip this mode completely, but I’d say it’s definitely worth a look.
As I say, if you are a FIFA fan then you likely already know what you’re getting in FIFA 19. To be honest the changes are minor in the grand scheme of things, but isn’t this always the case anyway? FIFA is a pretty polished game already, so you if you’ve never played and are finally coming out from under that rock then don’t worry because whatever version you’re playing you are always going to pick up a quality game.
I’ll never tire of FIFA as a game, I don’t think, however, I am a bit fed up with the yearly releases. I really can’t see anything here which couldn’t have been done via a large patch. Ubisoft has it right with Assassin’s Creed, moving the franchise to a bi-annual release. Why can’t FIFA do this? I’d happily pay £20 for a large patch in the gap year, which could provide the sort of update which we see here, and doing so may give the developer time to make the sort of significant changes which could really take the series to the next level. After all, what can really be done in a year?
All the time people still buy it FIFA will be a yearly release, so maybe it’s just pipe dream that we’ll see it move to a bi-annual release or even a game as a service, where we pay for each ‘season,’ but in my opinion, if this ever does happen, it’ll be for the best.
*Code kindly provided by the publisher for review*