Review: FIFA 19 – Same Old Games, Some New Tricks
Most people don’t bat an eyelid when a new FIFA game is released, as the franchise’s golden years are seemingly over. If you look at any list ranking the best FIFA games of all time, the majority will overlook anything released after FIFA 14. However, FIFA 19 looked promising. With new game modes, enhancements to existing ones, more polished gameplay, and a bigger campaign, FIFA 19 could have been the reboot the series needed. FIFA 19 is an improvement to more recent entries, but it still doesn’t feel like EA’s best work.
New Bells and Whistles
There are a lot of new features to FIFA 19, such as Timed Finishing, which has completely altered how you shoot. It allows you have to more precision when striking the ball, but it takes a lot of practice to fully get the hang of. The UEFA Champions League is one of the biggest features of FIFA 19, and you’ll be able to find it in the Career Mode, as well as the Kick Off mode, and Ultimate Team. These game modes have been updated, allowing you to make Kick Off Names which you can use to track stats of opponents. New enhancements to the commentary system, gameplay, and visuals have also been made. This is impressive and makes playing a match as realistic as ever. The Journey: Champions also welcomes the return of Alex Turner from FIFA 17 and 18, as well as two other characters, Danny Williams and Kim Hunter. This will be the conclusion to Alex Turner’s story, so it will probably be his last appearance. You will get the opportunity to meet famous footballers like Neymar Jr., Kevin De Bruyne, and Alex Morgan in this story mode. All the character’s paths cross over, giving you the ability to switch between each one at any time to alter your experience. This adds some diversity to the campaign for when you are getting tired of playing one character.
FIFA 19’s campaign mode, The Journey, is tedious and slow paced – just like it was in the last two games. There are some interesting segments, like cutscenes when you meet a big-name player, but the majority is unexciting. The new characters, Danny Williams and Kim Hunter, are a nice addition. They mix up the playstyle a little, but their chapters aren’t mandatory and you can just play as Alex if you wish. It seems most of the gameplay is mini-games, like passing drills and practice runs. You are given the ability to pick from a few responses when you’re talking to another character, but they don’t alter the outcome of the game too much. FIFA games aren’t known for their thrilling, story-driven campaigns. The focus has always been exploring the other modes and playing with other people. With this in mind, The Journey is a mediocre campaign but could be good to dive into when you get sick of your friend always winning matches in co-op.
Improved Gameplay, but Still Flawed
FIFA 19 brings with it all existing problems that have been apparent in all games from the series. There have been some tweaks. This has incrementally created a better game, but it still feels unpolished. FIFA continues its approach of small improvements.
The gameplay in FIFA 19 feels more realistic than in past games, making the matches feel more natural. The player’s AI has been improved, and their responsiveness to passes is more precise. The goalkeeper’s AI has also been significantly enhanced. Repeating the same tired tricks will no longer always result in a goal. The overall mechanics have been updated: tackling, sprinting up and down the pitch, and cutting off your opponent to win the ball, are all a lot smoother. This makes for a much more satisfying and enjoyable experience.
The visuals are gorgeous. The facial animations of the players are impressive, like the scowls they make when a referee gives them a yellow card. The attention to detail is remarkable, whether it’s the creases on a player’s shirt moving as they walk, the grass stains on their outfits, or the little droplets of sweat on their forehead. You can also choose how you want your player to celebrate after a goal, which is a nice feature. The players seem much more intelligent, boasting more realistic reactions to their surroundings. They appear to anticipate when you pass to them and look more exhausted when a match is close to finishing. The graphics are a highpoint of FIFA 19, making it feel more immersive and atmospheric.
Even with these improvements, there are still some issues that need fixing. Penalties and free-kicks seem near impossible to master. You never really feel like you have full control of the ball, meaning you’ll mess up more times than you’ll succeed. Each iteration of FIFA attempts to fix this by adding more and more control. Each new layer adds a fresh gimmick to an already bloated system. As extra controls are pilled into penalties, it begins to resemble more of a mini-game than a part of the match. Timed Finishing, which is the new revamp of how you shoot, is fiddly and difficult to get to grips with. The corner system remains as poor as when it was first introduced. The inability to develop a realistic system for taking corners might just be an issue with translating the sport to a controller. It should be updated or taken out of the game at this point.
The Career Mode could also do with some TLC. It’s visually stunning, but that’s about the only change that has been made to it. Even with its improved graphics, the models of more obscure players are as wonky as a PS2 version. This proves that no amount of graphical power can force EA to spend time studying the appearance of the Doncaster Rovers starting eleven.
FIFA 19 is an enjoyable and fun entry to the series, but it still feels underwhelming. There are some interesting new features, but some feel like they need to be tweaked to realise their full potential. The gameplay is enhanced and more realistic, making the matches feel varied and more fun than in the last iteration. The attention to detail and the gorgeous graphics are also highpoints. The dull campaign, as well as issues with shooting, penalties, and the corner system, are all disappointing. Even with its flaws, FIFA 19 is an improvement on more recent FIFA titles. Although FIFA 19 misses the mark on quite a few things, it is a step in the right direction. It is possible that after another 20 years making FIFA games, EA might actually figure out how players act taking corners.