As anticipated by soccer games as the start of the Barclays Premier League season or the FIFA World Cup is to fans of The Beautiful Game, EA Sports FIFA is back for another run in the form of the excellent FIFA 18. The game is chock full of pleasant improvements and the subject of our World Exclusive review on the Sony PlayStation 4 console.
Constantly evolving for the better, EA Sports FIFA is back with some brilliant new features via FIFA 18. The results include new levels in terms of realistic gameplay and presentation. Here’s a look at main feature updates in FIFA 18…
Real Player Motion Technology
This is a new feature and FIFA 18 that brings more lifelike animations two players on the pitch. More so than ever you can see fluid player motion that is very reflective of real life along with dramatic collisions. In the past we had seen instances of the later that seemed to defy conventional physics. These often comical clashes are gone now and replaced by bone wrenching man on man hits that look like those you see on television every weekend.
Dribbling and executing skill moves in FIFA 18 is easier than in FIFA 17. Doing so with players with good technical skills more lifelike and effective than ever before in a FIFA title. Play as the like of Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo and you will be able to execute deft skills skill moves that are reflective of what the real life players can do. This has been a challenge in previous versions of FIFA where you seemingly had to be accomplished FIFA freestyle gamers to pull of the best trick moves.
Dribbling is a tad more intuitive and responsive for many of us who had previous relied on passing and simpler form of modern soccer.
Build-ups to and goals themselves are quite exciting and FIFA 18. Long a strong suit of rival Pro Evolution Soccer exciting goals that result from crisp, decisive passing and unpredictable fluid strikes and headers are now commonplace in FIFA 18. The level of excitement that result in the title and very much welcome. We found ourselves fist-pumping and celebration and holding our head in frustration because of the gold mouth action that is now commonplace in FIFA 18.
In a case of if it’s not broken don’t fix it yes Sports has maintained very much-loved Mosaic style menu of FIFA 17 and 16 and FIFA 18. It is intuitive to navigate for new player and will be quite familiar to those of us who have played FIFA from its 2016 version and beyond. It’s also touch-friendly for those playing the title on computers and tablets.
The in-game graphics in FIFA 18 has improved again in the latest offering of the title. What seemed to be the best ever in FIFA 17 has not been tweaked to provide the closest thing that you can find to watching real-life matches on television.
Think of a major international and club soccer team such as Real Madrid, FC Barcelona, Paris Saint-Germain or even the LA Galaxy and you’ll find that their players are recognizable in terms of facial features and body shapes in FIFA 18.
The game’s crown jewel, the Barclays Premier League, features head scans of all of the players in the division. They are so well-done that one could easily believe that they were looking at an on NBC Premier League broadcast in FIFA because of the freakish lifelike faces that you’ll see on show in FIFA 18.
Improvements are also evident in stadium animations. All 20 premier league stadiums are in the game as well as a series of other well-known stadiums from around the world including Real Madrid’s Santiago Bernabeu Bayern Munich’s Allianz Arena and even the LA galaxies StubHub Center. The atmospheres of all of the stadiums the captured quite well in the FIFA 18 as well as diverse crowds that different people of every shape and form in the stands displaying emotions based on what is happening in a match. This includes booing when a home team is underperforming.
Overlays are present for all of the leagues in FIFA 18. The best of these after the Barclays Premier League. The pre-, in, and after match presentation for what’s the world’s most popular soccer league is second to none. EA Sports arguably can does a better job with presenting Premier League games than official EPL broadcaster NBC does in the USA. This includes relevant transfer player transfer and performance updates and a nice feature that has animated lineups of boot starting elevens.
Since EA Sports FIFA has the official Bundesliga license again this year, matches for Germany’s top three divisions are once again well done ( although not quite as well as for the Premier League). Well done EA Sports.
FIFA 18 introduces Manager mode negotiation cut scenes in which you meet with other managers to hash out transfer deals. Play as a manager in the Premier League and you can find yourself and an office with the likes of Arsene Wenger and Jose Mourinho talking about how much they would like to buy one of your players for or how much they want you to pay for one of their stars. This is done by a series of impressive animation with subtitles that include options to accept counter or reject transfer proposals. It’s a nice addition and Manager mode but seasoned gamers may want to skip it after a couple rounds of negotiations because of its predictability. The square button on the Sony PlayStation 4 does that for you. Alternatively you can delegate to an assistant manager with parameters regarding the minimum and maximum transfer value specified. Get a deal done and you’ll have another round of negotiations with a head nodding player and his talkative agent.
Definitely a playlist that you want to add to your Spotify selections, the FIFA 18 soundtrack is back and will keep you engaged in between games. Once again it favors up and coming artists from around the world along with a smattering of big names such as Lorde and Weezer. The soundtrack was the first place that many of us heard the now ubiquitous “Best Friend” by Sofi Tukker that went to onto become the theme song for Apple’s iPhone X marketing campaign.
Teams and Leagues
With 700 playable teams and over 30 leagues, FIFA 18 has a bit of something for everyone. Name a major domestic league in Europe or the Americas and it’s in the game. And the case of the English game FIFA 18 continues to delve well below the Premier League all the way down to the fourth tier, League Two. Several other European countries the first and second divisions while Germany goes all the way down to the 3. Liga.
Once again the only notable exception is the available leagues is FIFA is the popular Campeonato Brasileiro Série A or Brazilian top flight. The reason for this is that the league is licensed to Pro Evolution Soccer 2018. It is present in FIFA 18 under the name Liga do Brasil with actual team names. However, many of the teams’ players are replaced with generic names and some loose representations of their actual selves.
Throw in 50 men’s national teams and 15 Women’s National sides, FIFA 18 will keep you entertained with league, cup, international and custom-created competitions until FIFA 19 comes out in September of 2018.
Arguably the highlight of FIFA 17 and a true game-changer in the world of football simulations “The Journey” with virtual football star Alex Hunter is back for another go-round in FIFA 18.
Aptly titled “Hunter Returns”, the FIFA 18 incarnation of “The Journey” once again features several world soccer superstars in supporting roles. These include the legendary Arsenal and France striker Thierry Henry, England legend Rio Ferdinand, France and Atlético Madrid hitman Antoine Griezmann, Tottenham and England midfielder Dele Alli and NBA superstar James Harden.
“Hunter Returns” continues where we left off in FIFA 17 with Hunter rising to star status. Broken into 6 different chapters “The Journey” includes a transfer saga to a major European Club, an inevitable move to the LA Galaxy as well as the return to Europe with his choice of several major continental teams. There are also several family drama surprises in this part of the game along with injuries and the ability to play as both a woman’s national team player and as one of Hunter’s friends.
A within the game itself “The Journey” is brilliant in FIFA 18. Given the plot twists and new playing options, it is even better than the first incarnation of what we hope to be a regular fixture in the FIFA series.
With game overhaul certainly not needed following the brilliance of FIFA 17, EA Sports has continued the long-standing process of tweaking the FIFA series to add more realistic elements of soccer gameplay. We already mentioned several of these such as more realistic player dribbling motions and dramatic moment. They are combined with offensive and defensive gameplay improvements to produce the most realistic soccer simulation from the EA Sports today. It’s the type of game that you keep going back to over and over again thanks to its addictive gameplay.
New players joining the year Sports FIFA fold every year again have the basic levels of Beginner and Amateur to learn the game with. For the more seasoned gamers Semi-Pro, Professional World Class and Legendary are back to offer you proper challenges.
If you’re a seasoned FIFA player then feel free to dive right into Professional level. With dribbling and more fluid player movements now present, it won’t take much time to adjust if you’re playing as a four to five star team. Cup and league success can soon follow. Semi-Pro is a good way to kick things off in FIFA Ultimate Team when you’re building a squad or if you want to be really challenged and play as 2 or 3 star team in a competitive league such as the English Championship or even League. World Class and Legendary mode are not for the faint of heart. They’re worth a try after you spend a couple months in Professional mode if you want to continue keep your blood flowing via onslaughts from some of the better sides in FIFA 18.
FIFA 18’s more realistic player movement and dribbling are the key offensive improvement to the FIFA title this year. You can now navigate your way around the pitch easier than ever before when building up attacks. This is particularly useful for moves where you want to execute skills or slow things down as your wait for help from fellow attackers. You don’t always need to pull off fancy footwork to score goal just like in the real game. Dribble into space, hold up to ball or get between it and the defender until support arrives to collect a defense splitting pass.
Within one game of playing FIFA 18 and professional level we noticed that support an attack is much improved. Regardless of your team style forwards are no longer left to fend off on their own with help from just an attacking midfielder or two. The gameplay artificial intelligence in FIFA 18 seems kicked up a notch in terms of supporting attacks.
While on the flanks strikers can expect runs from attacking midfielders, central midfielders and sometimes even defensive midfielders looking for an opportunity to collect a pass for a setup play or shot at goal. Forwards also see cleverer in terms of positioning themselves for crosses and passes just outside and in the penalty box. This is a great for one touch shot opportunities or shots a goal following a small skills move to elude defenders.
The biggest gameplay adjustment that we had to make in FIFA 18 was in terms of defense. Defenses that work as cohesive units of three to five players made a splash in FIFA 17. This continues in FIFA 18 with defenders working together to anticipate and intercept passes. Indeed defense in FIFA 18 is all about breaking up plays and less about individual man-on-man defendant. Man on man defending now seems more difficult than before. In the past we had the option of pressing the X button on defense and winning the ball probably at least 50% of the time. We also had the very effective option of pressing the square button and man on man situations down the pitch to do a body block or shirt pull. In FIFA 18 the X button tackle probably only works about 25% of the time. The square button body block success rate is down to roughly 50-50. You’ve now got to carefully plan your defensive and defensive strategies to match your opponent. This is quite gratifying when your game plan works. When it doesn’t you have to go back to the drawing board and rethink your strategies. Either way it does make for some good game play entertainment particularly when defenses are under siege from superior attacking teams. Desperate last-minute defending can be the order of the day with 10 players back in the box on defense.
FIFA 18 continues the series’ magnificent run that began with FIFA 10 some seven years ago. Evolution and constant small improvements are thankfully the order of the day for the folks at EA Sports. No matter how much you play the game you will find yourself returning to it time and time again. Win the Premier League has Manchester City or Manchester United and it won’t be enough. You’ll have another run at it as a lesser team such as Crystal Palace Everton or even a newly-promoted team such Huddersfield Town.
The games with in the game – The Journey and FIFA Ultimate Team mode prolong the longevity of the game outside of simple League, Cup and tournament modes. Also there’s online where you can participate in the FIFA interactive World Cup or online competitions against other players from around the world. Unfortunately a PlayStation Plus Membership is required to do so. If you are a football lover or simply a devoted football game player, FIFA 18 is a full one year experience for you if you indulge in all it has to offer. Casual gamers can probably play FIFA 18 for two full years without losing interest in it.
Fine-tuned for the better FIFA 18 continues the series run of excellence with the most realistic license soccer simulation to date. If you want a game that’s fully licensed, rich in realistic presentation, chock full of fantastic gameplay and truly entertaining and then EA Sports FIFA 18 should be the game that you’re playing this Christmas.
Gameplay: 9.7 /10
Graphics: 9.7 /10
User Interface: 9.5/ 10
Realism: 10 / 10
Longevity: 10 / 10