It’s all about the presentation this year with FIFA 18. EA have upped their licensing domination of the virtual footy scene this time around almost double what they did last year, and it shows. This results in the whole package looking so much closer to the real game, because of all the new bells and whistles. Simple things such as the sound of the players shaking hands as they line up before a game, to the sound & look of the celebrations add that little edge that it competitors lack. Simply put it all looks authentic, Polished. The first time I heard Cristiano Ronaldo scream I was like “wait a minute, did he just howl?”, and in that moment I couldn’t hold back my excitement. I was ready to give this game all my attention as I’ve done with it’s predecessors before it.
Now mind you I watch La Liga every week, I watch the Prem on occasion, and I follow the champions league religiously. Oh, and I’m a huge fan of the lads in White, Hala Madrid! So you can just imagine my Glee when I saw Zizou on the sideline, or the La Liga Santander TV presentations on my screen, sadly excluding the awesome Bein Sports USA commentary. I will admit I was almost brought to tears, but, but… Man Card! I couldn’t let the emotions show, had to just power through the feels.
As I continued playing I noticed that the polish also extends to the stands, and transitions even more this year. Fans look so much better. Gone are the millions of John Smith’s, and now we have more realistic looking folks watching the virtual game.
And can we we get another Hala Madrid for the La Liga Santander TV presentation? (Other La Liga team fans can quote your equivalent chants).
In essence when it comes to the presentation, and sound of the game. No one does it better than the team at EA Sports.
Who is this guy? Who is he? He’s not a Real Madrid player… certainly not Casemiro. I don’t even know who this other bloke is. EA may have the presentation in most places, but they drop the ball in others like this, and it puzzles me. If you have the La Liga license, you have Ronaldo on the cover, and you took the time to put their team in the Journey as part of the plot, how, how is it that you got so many players on the team wrong. That’s not Asensio, that’s not Vasquez, and who the Frak is this? Look if they’re not gonna take my team, winners of la Liga, Champions League, Club World Cup, seriously, I have to wonder what other ways did they cut corners.
So I started searching, but everything off the pitch was special, packed to the brim with content, It’s beautiful really. The menus, the modes, the journey, Oh the journey… I liked this mode so much last year, and I know it brought many new players to the beautiful game. It’s a mode similar to 2K’s story modes, but better, better because I like footy and in this mode I get to play as a virtual player who is so tangible that he has his own real life twitter. This year Alex Hunter meets more players, plays for more teams and it’s possible to make him your own version of himself than it was last year. The smooth animations, the voice acting, It’s all so amazing, so amazing until you step on the pitch, and it all falls apart.
During my first few hours with the game I played a bit of every mode, kick off, ultimate team, career mode, and some multiplayer. Tournaments don’t count because that’s just for when the mates come over, but anywho my main take away from the game after a few hours was that it feels like more of a chore than ever before. It almost feels too difficult to defend. In a way it feels like my players are always just a few steps away from the ball, but never able to quite reach it. And for those of you questioning my footy credentials. I play the game every year, make it to about division 1 or 2 in ultimate team, and I’m usually playing on world class or legendary. I’m not the best player by a landslide, but I’d back myself in a 50/50. This year however, I’d bet on the opposition every time. I even had to play the whole Journey on Semi-Pro just to get through the story. The controls are mostly the same, X lob, B to shoot, A to Pass, and Y to perform a through ball. What’s different is that everything seems to take a tad bit longer to perform. Wanna play a through pass up the pitch? You gotta charge it a tad bit longer than before. Wanna hold a bloke off the ball? You gotta fight with the sticks more than even. In a way it feels like the game is always playing against you while you play, What this evidently becomes is a game where by the player is not just playing against their opponent, but also the game itself. The simplest way to put it is that the game feels like a chore. Everything outside of the menus, and presentation feels worse than it has ever felt before, and If you doubt me just go play a moment of last year’s game or better yet play PES 18’s Demo.
FIFA 18 does have a lot of other good things going for it including the huge changes to the career like negotiations with players to add even more immersion to the experience, and the quick sub system that allows the player to make subs without having to pause the game, but again these addition are foreshadowed by the shortcomings in other aspects of the game, especially the on the pitch gameplay. Ultimate team sees a few changes like community challenges, but it’s primarily unchanged from last year, so if you liked it then you should like it now. As for me I managed to get through a few crap pack openings till I started thinking about My Club.
FIFA 18 focuses so much on what happens around the beautiful game that it almost forgets about the game altogether. When a game starts feeling like more of a chore than an experience that you want every waking moment of each day, then that is the point when you have to take a moment, reevaluate what’s going on then make some changes to fix what’s wrong. The good thing for EA is that the ideal footy game is just a patch away. Fix the defending, fix the pace, and for God sake fix the faces of my darn team….