As sure as the rising of the sun, each September a new FIFA appears on the shelves. It’s 2018 and EA’s annual FIFA title remains the top selling and most highly acclaimed football game. There is no denying that. Even Pro Evolution supporters have come to accept it. With each passing year, the latest iteration of the beautiful game comes with the promise of evolution and revolution.
FIFA 19, the sixth next-gen release, unfortunately, isn’t a breakthrough in the franchise and only makes marginal updates and refinements to the winning, but well-worn, formula. That said, how do you find fault in a game that remains the best and the most authentic recreation of the sport out there?
Fans of the popular franchise will know that every second year makes a considerable jump towards redefining the king of soccer’s gameplay and offers a number of cool new features. That isn’t the case with FIFA 19. It just doesn’t feel like an essential addition to the series, a problem FIFA 18 also had. Gamers will be familiar with all the mechanics at play here, with only a few minor changes made to on-the-field action and perhaps a few new customisations added to the AI characters. Yes, gameplay has been tweaked, but it still pretty much feels the same. I’d bet that everyone who has played 18 will be able to pick up and play 19 without any hassles or adjustments. Furthermore, the marketing team behind the title hasn’t pushed any new features. Instead, it seems EA has focused on refining what’s already there and, of course, gloating about the shiny new Champions League license it wrested from Konami.
That’s correct, FIFA 19 now plays host to just about every football competition known to football fanatics and, of course, they remind you about that Champions League license in just about every mode available. Ultimate Team. The Journey. House Rules. Best Of Series. Cup Finals. And it’s all there; the theme songs, over 700 playable teams, the classy presentations, and the distinct commentary. All the bells and whistles you’d expect with a football game of this calibre. What’s more, the soccer simulator still manages to present the sport in an exciting and interesting way, even after all this time. It’s polished, slick and smooth, and still fun both on and off the pitch.
The developer has always stuck fairly closely to its ‘if it’s not broken, don’t fix it’ principle, which it does again here. Again, of course, there are changes and tweaks to key fundamentals that save it from being a copy and paste from last year. Like, the more physical gameplay, with the strength and pace of the player becoming far more important statistics (only those fast and strong enough can freely march up to the goal posts). Yes, 19‘s idea of the perfect footballer is the cover star Cristiano Ronaldo. He is fast, strong and can just about score from anywhere on the pitch. Expect tons of overhead kicks.
Also, the ball physics have improved, through balls work again and goalkeepers aren’t just moving statues this time around. Yes, there are less teething issues, the gameplay feels more fluid and the Frostbite engine has never looked better. Neymar, Messi and Ronaldo rivalry keyboard warriors will be glad to note that Ronaldo looks like Ronaldo, Messi looks like Messi, and Neymar looks the part too. All astonishingly realistic.
FIFA 19 returns with the same fantastic presentation. Each venue genuinely feels different and makes each match feel fresh. It somehow manages to capture the authentic atmosphere of a football stadium, crowd chants and all.
We’ve already played through The Journey, a story-focused campaign mode starring the young soccer prodigy, Alex Hunter, before. This year, however, he is joined by Danny Williams and his half-sister Kim Hunter, who each share a third of the story. The most interesting part of the lengthier, and genuinely interesting, final chapter is Kim’s struggles in the U.S. Women’s National Team. It’s all gripping stuff. And having Hans Zimmer’s score helps tremendously.
Most of the changes can be found in the plethora of new modes though. The kick-off mode has undergone an overhaul and now features nine game modes. The ever-engaging FIFA Ultimate Team, of course, remains a highlight. You could possibly spend an eternity crafting the perfect team made up of the most talented football stars in the world, if you can unlock them of course.
The honest truth is that reviews for games like this barely matter. Consumers and FIFA acolytes will purchase the title regardless of any drawbacks. Despite the lack of progression and the issues that remain, every year’s release is the best FIFA ever. This year’s iteration won’t be any different. It might do enough to warrant the purchase, but, again, you were always going to buy it, weren’t you?
Football has always been about the sense of glory and jubilation after scoring a goal. FIFA 19 manages to capture that perfectly. And, honestly, what more could you really want?
FIFA remains the king of football gaming, but you have to wonder if it's being held back by current gen consoles. Instead of being a leap forward, FIFA 19 makes minute changes to the gameplay.
- Great gameplay
- Great animation
- Great storyline
- We've seen all of this before
- On-the-field action feels slower than last year
- Storyline 0%
- Gameplay 0%
- Graphics 0%
- Replay Value 0%
- Sound and Music 0%