GamingReview: FIFA 19

Review: FIFA 19

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Teetering on the precipice of perfection.

In recent years, the commonly held view is that FIFA has all the licenses and PES is like proper football. FIFA is more arcade, while PES Is the ultimate Simulation. That is plainly bollocks.

Football is a game about small events; mistakes or moments of skill, a burst of speed or positional awareness. In this regard, FIFA 19 is the ultimate football experience in gaming, showcasing those small moments that can change a match.

Infused with a new-found tactical awareness which much more vividly replicates the beautiful game, EA’s latest foray duplicates formations relatively well, the movements and transitions of players, as well as the mistakes individuals can make to causes stress to the systems so diligently worked on every day by managers around the country.

PES, on the other hand (loved unconditionally by journalists) is slow, follows specific lines and play patters, while letting the ball be the decided of games. FIFA 19 does something beautiful; it allows you to be the decider of games. So if anyone says PES is unpredictable and a better recreation, tell them to start learning about zones. Show them this for an eye opener: https://www.globallcoach.com/blog/2018/3/23/zone-14-explaining-the-trends-and-buzzwords

Now we’ve established FIFA 19 is the best representation of football (opinion is subjective, remember), let’s talk about what’s new in this year’s iteration.

New Licenses

The Champions League license is the big thing on show this year, with Konami and UEFA mutually agreeing to part ways after and extend exclusivity period. What this ultimately boils down to, is that EA offered more money as part of the deal, or UEFA saw FIFA as the best option for its branding opportunities for partners (the more people playing gives more value to sponsors for display advertising). There are new team additions from Russia, Czech Republic, Ukraine and Croatia, while new leagues join the fray such as the Argentinian league.

However, there are some losses, including China, and some glaring omissions, such as the Croatian national team, and pretend players from Brazil, Ivory Coast and Paraguay. While we can’t expect every license under the sun, the World Cup runners up should’ve been added, while Brazilian players continue to be created rather than included. One day, FIFA players. One day.

New Modes

Again, The Champions League license as well as the Europa League allows seasons to be much more authentic, but EA didn’t stop there with the licenses, including Ultimate Team implementations and a new champions channel experience. Division Rivals essentially takes the online seasons mode and brings this to Ultimate team.

Kick-Off has also seen a major update this year, with options including specific modes, situations, and more use of the Champions League license offering round selections, so you can skip straight to the final. There’s a wealth of options here, each offering its own way to up the ante amongst friends.

New Gameplay Features

Three main gameplay tweaks for the basis of 19’s improved recreation of football, and timed shooting takes much of the limelight. Designed to offer a more accurate shot, those who get the timing of the shot right will produce barnstorming efforts, while a rush or delayed shot will see the ball fly off into the stands or hobble over towards the corner flag.

Where this addition really feels pivotal is during online or high-pressure offline games that can decide a season or settle a rivalry with friends. Like real life, you’ll have little time on the ball as the opponents press you contain you, making your reflexes and reactions dictate the flight of the ball as timing is imperative.

Active touch serves two purposes, and in effect, two different styles of players. With it, you can decide how to receive the ball, with multiple ways to trap the ball, or control in the air with the players head, chest, knees and feet. The second element is for the flair players, as each of these options allow you to move the ball on without stopping it dead, producing a flick of real quality to create that much needed space, or create an opening for transition or counter attack.

Dynamic Tactics is billed as an overhaul but is effectively a relabelling of tactics previously usable on the D-pad, short cuts to slight tactical tweaks or defensive and attacking mentality.

One day, FIFA will present us with an attacking and a defending formation. We can only hope. Imagine for instance, you’re setting up a team with a 4-3-3 formation. That’s how it appears as you begin the game. If you’re not kicking off, you’re press with one, two or three players, or if you’re one of the top teams, five players and a high defensive line. In transition, five to six players surge forward, and as the transition completes, you’re effectively a fluid 2-3-2-3 attacking sensation, seeking out space and opportunities to score. When FIFA offers us this; the ability to set defensive, transition and attacking formations, it would become that which is seeks; the be unmatchable.

It’s incredible how many new features or tweaks the team at EA has been able to employ in FIFA 19, but that does come at a price. There are parts of FIFA 19 that are five years old, and its reliance on Frostbite, an engine designed for large world 1st person shooter experiences, may now be holding the franchise back.

Player models are beginning to look dated; even those that benefit from official licences. Cloth physics are still a little over exaggerated. The graphics are excellent in modelled stadiums, but pitch representations and non-official stadiums are starting to look old. When faced with high-end PC and both Pro and X variations on console, there’s so much more these machines are capable of, but EA is still catering to the base model consoles and middle ground PC owners. Perhaps these are the pitfalls of utilising an engine designed for something else, despite the obvious skills on display at EA’s engineering team. 

In the end, though, these are just minor quips; something to find issue with in a game that is so complete in terms of options for the player and licenses, that I’m really trying to find fault for fairness.

FIFA 19 is the best representation of the kind of football I love. The ability to change styles of play mid-game from a two touch Tottenham Hotspurs style to a controlled Mourinho masterclass of boredom and the attacking verve of Manchester City and Liverpool; FIFA almost has it all.

What FIFA 19 doesn’t have, is a real competitor. In the UK, the NBA 2K series now outsells PES, and FIFA blows them both out of the water. If Komani can muster a late surge for its next football outing, then there’s still plenty of the game left to be played. Until then, there’s only one king of the castle, and FIFA 19 rightly wears that crown with aplomb.

SUMMARY

Reviewed on the Xbox One. FIFA 19 is available now on Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and Nintendo Switch.

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Review: FIFA 19Reviewed on the Xbox One. FIFA 19 is available now on Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and Nintendo Switch.