FIFA has stolen the Champions League license from Konami, made the football a bit more theatrical, and brought in a new commentary team for European games. Is this the definitive football game?
FIFA’s “The Journey” comes to a conclusion this year, as we follow the story of the Hunter siblings trying to win the Champions League and Women’s World Cup, along with the adventures of long-time sidekick Danny Williams.
EA have made a number of interesting updates this year, including the ability to swap between the characters at will, although there is a ‘curated experience’, which is the recommended way to play. To be honest, the storyline gets a bit more outlandish and theatrical, but I guess that suits the gameplay just fine. There are actually a few new features as well, which are pretty neat. The story introduces the concept of mentors, which will allow you to play games as a few select players, which will help you build up a relationship, and unlock mentor challenges. Completing these will then lead to some meaningful gameplay bonuses.
In terms of other single-player content, it’s clear that the career mode has all but been abandoned by EA. There have been zero improvements here, and even various bugs and errors remain from last year. To me, The Journey more than makes up for this, but I’m sure there will be plenty who are disappointed there’s no longer really a reason to make their own path to glory.
This year, for once, I don’t need to talk about pace. FIFA 18 managed to find a good balance, and this year things are even better. You can play through the middle just as well as down the wings, and a well-placed through ball is just as powerful as a cross and header. Ball physics are better than ever, and players seem less attached to the ball too, but without any of the bizarre off-the-ball antics that you get in PES. EA also patched out many of the defensive issues and scaled the difficulty better, both of which were key criticisms of mine this time last year.
Elsewhere, the tweaks are relatively minor, as I think people have almost come to expect. Very little has been removed (online seasons mode is the one thing that comes to mind), and there’s a few new gameplay modes too. Ultimate Team now has more weekly packs and timed events to keep you playing week-in, week-out (although the fact you can now see the odds on packs is faintly horrifying in how low your chances are).
There’s a new FUT mode in Divisions Rivals, and some fun new modes in Kick-Off (although currently only available in local modes). You can have an odd (but oddly fun) survival mode, and play around with the rule set too. Turn of fouls if you wish? There’s also some new tactics and tactical options in-game, although I didn’t find they made a huge difference.
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