Once again Electronic Arts has proven why they are the go to studio for some of the top sports title with their latest installment in the FIFA franchise. FIFA 18 builds on last year gameplay with dramatic and improved movements, extremely detailed graphics and its addition of diversifying team styles; however it’s the game’s story mode that is the highlight and truly shows the potential for future titles.
In FIFA 18’s “The Journey: Hunter Returns” we see a return of “The Journey”, a story mode that we first saw unfold in FIFA 17. Previously we saw the rise of Alex Hunter and followed him in his first year playing in a premier league that resulted in him being a soccer sensation that everyone was talking about. This time around we see Hunter transitioning to Major League Soccer with a team in the United States, after plans to play for a European soccer team falls through. Following Hunter on this journey brings more dynamics to story mode, as we not only see his story unfold but there is now additional moments to take control of him while it all plays out.
Despite having further ability to integrate ourselves in Hunter’s story, having this used more would have improved my commitment to the character and his story. There are quite a few times when Hunter is interacting with characters and I will only have one chance to pick a response for him; and in that my one response will also be the deciding factor for the follow-up dialogue Hunter makes.
Where FIFA 18 gives us more control of the players is on the field. The mechanics of the game is much of an improvement from previous titles. One of the most important things I’ve noticed in the game is the fact that I was able to be more strategic when running up the field, rather than reacting in a panic. The reason for this is the game’s dribbling that feels smoother and keeps the pace of the game consistent. This means that you’re able to really hold your own on the pitch and keep the ball on your player, again allowing more strategy.
But don’t let that fool you, despite the improved ball handling it doesn’t mean that it will be a walk in the park against your opponents. AI is smart in this game and although that can be used as an advantage, with your teammates receiving a passing, it does also works against you. You will find that AI will successfully out do you when you attempt to tackle them or steal the ball. After a few unsuccessful attempts I realized that I had to use timing as an advantage to complete my play. We really get to see the full affects of the game’s AI in story mode with some teams’ and players’ unique playing styles being showcased. You can see the difference in how other players play than Cristiano Ronaldo, you see his signature sprint. Although the game captures the beauty of the how superstars players and teams handle the ball, at times I felt frustrated as their play seemed to bring an unbalance to the games difficulty.
Another great feature that I found myself playing quite a bit of is the Sqaud Battles in FIFA Ultimate Team. This mode allows people to create squads that then go up against by other people playing FIFA 18. Although you have other people creating these squads you are playing against AI and have a chance to move up the leader board. Another cool additions of the game also includes new FUT icons that bring iconic players from the past, allowing us to see legends in action.
Many of the gameplay and features of the game would have gone unnoticed if it wasn’t for the graphics, that brings everything about the sport alive with its great detail. The game is powered by Frostbite and we can see how that brings reality of FIFA and the game closer together. It brings extra detail to the players, stadiums and daylight lighting to bring an authentic feel when playing. The use of league commentators’ dialogue also makes it feel as you’re in the stands.
Overall the game looks beautiful with lifelike visuals, replicas of real stadiums, authentic audio from the commentators and well executed daylight lighting, all of which is expected of EA. The mechanics of the game smooths out flaws in dribbling that fans have previously complained about, making the pace of the game hold up throughout matches. Although not new, FIFA 18’s story mode brings more depth with exploring the different aspects in professional football. Even with the ability to have more control in story mode the game only gives fans a taste of that element, compared to other sports titles. Despite that FIFA 18 will leave you satisfied and having you playing it over again, truly making you interested in future titles.
FIFA 18 (Xbox One)
Authentic FIFA experience with visuals and audio
The Journey: Hunter Returns is a great story mode experience
Improved dribbling mechanics
More opportunities to make decisions in story mode