Ah, hello again FIFA. It only seems like a year since we last met, oh wait… It was!
FIFA 19 brings you your yearly dosage of football updates and goodness. It sometimes makes you think that do they need to release a yearly iteration of the game? Couldn’t they just release a new game every 2-3 years or so and in between those times just release an update with the new kits, teams etc and charge maybe £10 for the privilege? Because you must admit that there are some years where a difference maybe cannot be seen or felt in the game, that the design has been altered slightly to give it a little refresh.
Well, this year is different, this isn’t one of those years for FIFA 19. Instantly when you start the game up and get taken into the ‘demo’ match at the start as I like to call it. This year gives you a taste of the new champions league feature that has been added in.
Straight from kick off you can feel that there is something different about the game, you can feel that the game feels sluggish, but not in a bad way. There’s a crispness to the passing, the control feels close and tight and the shooting must be worked for. The more you play through the game, you can see how much passing is going to play a big roll in the game this year, no longer can you take your massive centre back and dance around opposition defenders and score like they’re not there.
This game has made the change to show that defenders are indeed defenders and attackers are attackers. Another thing I noticed regarding this as well, is that you can no longer have your Mbappes and Neymars on the wing, pump the ball down the wing and watch them speed past defenders like last nights curry is coming back to haunt you. This is where that sluggishness above I mentioned comes into play, players feel that they might have a slight bit more pace than others, but there is nothing overwhelming in wingers or wide players that will leave your RB or LB stuck in the mud… So, to speak.
The only quarrel I had with the defending was that defenders do muscle players off the ball far to easily, they can seem like an immoveable object at times, and even when I tried with Akinfenwa, he got floored easily as well, and this guy is a beast, so maybe some tweaking in future updates for that.
I’ve noticed in matches as well that there have been subtle animation changes to different areas, goalkeepers diving and making finger tip saves looks very impressive, I can tell from previous games that this has been worked on, as well as other movements for the goalkeepers. There does seem to be a lot of variety now in the movement of goalkeepers which allows for a lot more freedom.
Simple touches by players as well feels smoother, such as storming towards defenders and cutting back and playing it out, the movement flows like the wind down the welsh valleys. Superb. Cheeky little back heels as well when passing first time flow a lot better than on FIFA 18, there were times it looks laboured when doing it, but this time the touches and first-time balls played are a joy to watch.
Another impressive update I noticed as well was the reaction from the crowd. When playing as Man City, after I scored a goal with AGUUUERRRROOOOO I noticed the crowd has turned around to do the Poznan. It’s little touches like this that light when heart when it comes to gaming, the finer details of getting things right and putting that little extra polish on it.
I’ve rambled about how the game plays, but what is there to do? Well, this hasn’t really changed much, you can continue Alex Hunters journey with his sister in tow, as well as FIFA Ultimate Team, which is a favourite of mine, this is the mode I tend to play most. Mainly for the challenges and it reminds me of my youth, getting my pocket money every week and getting my panini stickers and then trading with friends in school! So much got got need! Those shinys as well!
You can also start a career where the usual choices are available for you in manager or player career. The one main difference in this year’s game is the addition of the champions league where you can play through Europe’s top competition. What I liked about this when I loaded the mode up was that it was already set to this year’s group’s so you could dive straight into this year’s competition, or if you wanted to there was the option available to swap things around and put the groups how you want.
Want to improve your skill game? Well, they’ve returned this year in the usual pre-match load up and you can select them from the main menu if you fancy just playing some skill games. The usual for these are available in the different areas, shooting, dribbling, passing, penalties and a lot more.
I have to admit that when I started playing this year’s FIFA I wasn’t expecting much of a change, I thought this was going to be one of those years for the franchise, but I’ve been pleasantly surprised by how the mechanics have been improved upon and certain sections worked on to be what they’re supposed to be.
As I said above, the only real issue that I had with the game was the defending and how easy it was to muscle strikers/attackers off the ball. Other than that, it’s an enjoyable experience!
Reviewed on Xbox One S