It’s that time of the year again! Time to buy new controllers because you’ll wear out the joysticks of the ones you currently have, time to set multiple alarms because you’ll be staying up way later than you should be, and time to apologize in advance to your roommates or parents for the wrathful outbursts of pure rage you’ll exhibit in a temper tantrum because you got scored on in the 90th. The time, ladies and gentlemen, is FIFA season.
Arguably, “FIFA season” is a year-round, never-ending ordeal for many people (myself included); but as FIFA 19 recently hit stores on September 28th, a little more hype is due during this time of the year. Per usual, I picked up FIFA from my local GameStop—old school, I know—and have been exploring all its features over the weekend. As a regular FIFA purchaser, one really can’t expect a franchise’s newest entry to be either much better or much worse than its predecessor; therefore, the games are best looked at with a perspective that focuses on the changes made from the last game to the current one, whether the changes be groundbreaking or extremely subtle. Luckily, a lot of the changes implemented in FIFA 19 are for the better.
From as soon as you get to the main menu, FIFA 19 is already flashier and more vibrant that previous titles, giving the game a more energetic and livelier feel. Immediately, you’re hit with splashes of blue and pink colors that present an inviting and inclusive tone. Vibrant, energetic, inclusive, these are perfect adjectives to describe the way the game makes you feel when you play it. Someone who hasn’t played much FIFA, or soccer even, should feel like they are being welcomed by the FIFA franchise (the online community however is a very different story).
This game, as opposed to previous entries, is far more extravagant and it displays said extravagance quite “loudly.” This bombastic style they chose to go with this year is most likely because of the extensive licensing this title has acquired. While FIFA entries in past years have had tournaments and cups from all over the world, this game by far, has the most. You can get lost in all the different game modes that this game boasts, all thanks to the vast quantities of money the FIFA organization poured into this game.
The basic “Kickoff” mode has several sub-modes included in it, such as major alterations to rules like “no ref” for example. Little changes like this can keep solo and local multiplayer matches interesting for months on end. The career mode—which is like FIFA’s version of an offline campaign where you play as either a manager or a player and play matches season after season with one club or another—hasn’t gone through any notable changes however. As the career mode is a solid game mode that players have loyally stood by for years, it’s a bit disappointing that the developers didn’t do anything dynamic to it. However, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it I guess. The same can be said for the game’s “Seasons” and “Pro Clubs” modes too, but again, I don’t really see that as too big of an issue.
FIFA 19’s Ultimate Team truly is ultimate. FUT (FIFA Ultimate Team) is essentially a mode where you craft your perfect team with all the players you want, and you can use this team to play others online. In order to build your dream team, you have to win matches, take part in bids, and purchase cards packs which contain a variety of game items, including the teams’ players themselves. This is where EA really makes use of its microtransactions, as every pack purchased is a gamble of what player you get, just like trading cards; the next Platinum Pack you buy could contain legend Christiano Ronaldo or Lionel Messi. Creating an Ultimate Team and maintaining it has been known to be quite complex and painstaking, however, once you get the hang of everything, and know what all the stats and gauges mean, then it can be a really fun and addicting experience. Getting there does take a bit of work, but with each entry, the FIFA franchise has been making it easier to learn and use for everyone. Personally, I’d say FIFA 19 gets very close to hitting it on the nose in terms of accessibility (I bet FIFA 20 will get it though). While FUT and Career mode are FIFA’s foundation, let’s take a look at one of its newer game modes.
In an effort to appeal to more fans, FIFA 17 introduced “The Journey.” This was a true campaign mode, which put you in the role of young up-and-coming star Alex Hunter. The game mode was well- received by fans and critics alike; and was a wonderful conglomerate of what the core of FIFA has to offer, wrapped up in a nice little neat campaign. FIFA 18 continued the story of Alex Hunter in “The Journey: Hunter Returns” and introduced two other playable characters, his friend Danny Williams and his half- sister Kim Hunter. All three return as playable characters in FIFA 19’s “The Journey: Champions” and it’s
all just as fun this time around, if not more so. As the characters have grown and progressed in their careers, there’s less training, more playtime, and the story’s all the more interesting too.
It’s really nice to see such a powerhouse franchise try and reach out to more consumers by revitalizing existing game modes, or by adding new ones like “The Journey.” It is equally as nice to see when a game that can seem such as intimidating as a FIFA game does its best to be inclusive towards its newcomers to the series. I’ll be completely honest, when I first started playing FIFA, I was the absolute worst at it, and that’s how it is for almost everyone. FIFA, more so than other sports games, has a very steep learning curve; and FIFA 19 understands this very true fact, and offers plenty of tutorials, gameplay assistance, and training exercises to help turn any newb into an adept soccer player in no time (only virtually of course).
While new players have a plethora of game modes to try out and experiment with, current fans also have plenty to ogle at. As said before, the core of FIFA will stay the same, with most changes being subtly made to the physics and graphics. The gameplay mechanics in FIFA 19 are more realistic than ever; the players are far more fluid here and now, than in previous titles where you were clearly in control of a video game character. These players feel very real, and their movements are incredibly organic. Even the fans have personality this time around, rather than the pixelated blips in the stands who would uniformly stand and sit. The players all move so naturally, I’d half-believe that each and every player in the game took part in a motion capture photoshoot; EA Sports is rich, but they’re not that rich. The ball mechanics in FIFA 19 (which is more vital than it sounds) is also more controllable and dynamic than in previous entries.
FIFA 19 isn’t a perfect game, but it’s just about as close to a perfect soccer game that we’ll get anytime soon. The franchise has gotten bolder in recent years, and it seems to be paying off so far. Each new title sees changes that don’t go unnoticed and are usually appreciated by fans of the series as well as newcomers, and FIFA 19 is no exception. The graphics are great, the gameplay mechanics are fantastic, and the exciting and rousing tone makes this soccer game a solid entry in the long line of FIFA titles. FIFA 19 is available now in stores and online now for the PC and all consoles.
Review Score: 8.5/10
Images courtesy of: EA Sports Official