FIFA 19 Review PS4
key review info
- Game: FIFA 19
- Platform: Playstation 4
- Gamepad support: Yes
- Reviewed on:
- Show system requirements
FIFA 19 is Electronic Arts' latest addition to the franchise, and it looks like they are once again determined to bring the game as close to reality as possible.
One of the issues with football simulators is that the more they are trying to approach real life, the more they are sacrificing the fun aspect of the game. It’s also true that people want their favorite game to be more like what they see on TV.
At the same time, FIFA 19 fans don’t realize that getting realism would also mean getting rid of most of the excitement. While watching a 90-minute football match is interesting, especially if two good teams are playing, we tend to forget that most of that time is not filled with goals and incredible scoring occasions.
EA needs to achieve a balance between what people imagine a football match to be and reality. And believe me when I tell you that, most of the time, the people’s imagination is far more entertaining than a real match. Capturing that feeling or that impression is much more important that’s emulating the sport as closely as possible.
It might seem like a weird goal to have, but Electronic Arts has been doing this for a very long time. If we compare FIFA 19 with FIFA 18, for example, you’ll see not a whole lot of obvious changes, and there are even fewer differences between FIFA 18 and FIFA 17.
Now, if we were to compare FIFA 19 with FIFA 10, it’s an entirely different ball game, pardon the pun. And I’m not saying that it looks better, that’s not the point. It’s an evolution that doesn’t show up when we’re looking from one year to the next.
Story and gameplay
This is the third iteration of FIFA when we have a story mode, which might seem kind of odd. I’m pretty sure that not even Electronic Arts wasn’t sure about this feature, and figured that if it’s going well, they’re going to continue it.
Well, it turns out that The Journey, as the single-player portion is called, was a success for the franchise and continues to improve year after year. The debut was all the way back in FIFA 17, and it was a modest one, with just the core gameplay. It details the rise of a football player named Alex Hunter, starting from his first trials for a major club.
It’s actually aptly named because it’s the journey of a young man who doesn’t know much about the intricacies and politics of football, and only knows how to play it. He’s innocent, he has personal and family issues like the rest of us, and he’s easily manipulated by other people that just want to make some money in the process.
In FIFA 19, The Journey now covers three characters, with Alex Hunter being the most important one. We also get to play with his sister, as she’s coming up in the game herself, and with Danny, a good friend of Alex who’s still trying to find his way.
All of their lives are intertwined in a single story, but you can play exclusively with just one of them. The game will tell you when you should switch to the other characters to experience the story as it was written.
The idea is still the same. You can control just the character or the whole team, with an exception. For Alex, there is another option, and that is to play alongside a mentor. Unfortunately, playing just with Alex (or any of the other characters), and leaving the AI to control the team is still buggy and problematic.
Theoretically, you should stay in your designated position, and things will happen, but you control such a small aspect of the game that meeting the goals is almost impossible. It’s sure that there is someone out there that thinks otherwise, but I found it simply much easier to control the entire team and experience the story in a much more natural fashion.
As for the gameplay, I have to say that while it might seem similar to FIFA 18, it’s actually quite different. Only the surface remains the same, meaning passes, lobs, and crosses. The shooting porting has been revamped, which indicates that we have to learn again to shoot correctly, and a few other aspects have been changed as well.
Some of the more significant changes are explained right at the beginning, but you’ll have to play to understand what you have to do really. One of the most important features is the introduction of Game Plans, which can be set up before the game. Basically, players can cover some of the more relevant scenarios, like what happens when you lose the ball, when you’re attacking, or to determine the amount of pressure your team needs to exercise in a particular situation.
This is actually one of the more apparent changes made to the gameplay. Up until FIFA 18, it was way easier for players to stall for time when they were ahead by passing endlessly. Now, with the new pressure system, that’s going to be a lot harder to achieve.
On the downside, sometimes the natural pressing the AI is performing can overlap with the pressing game plan, making it very difficult for the opposing team to pass without losing the ball. On the one hand it makes the gameplay much more unpredictable, but on the other hand, it looks and feels a little bit unrealistic.
Also, the new Active Touch System should also make a difference, because it governs how players on the field manage the ball when they have it or when they receive it. Of course, it depends very much on the rating of the players, but the theory is that it should make things more natural. It also helps to create new opportunities from first touch contacts.
Finally, I have to mention the one-on-one battles, as now the engine is using much more of the player’s attributes to determine the outcome. It’s no longer a matter of skill of the player behind the control. Now, the AI is also playing a part.
What can you do in FIFA 19?
It turns out that there is a lot to do in the new FIFA, and Electronic Arts expanded the number of available activities, and we’re not even counting things like The Journey. Probably, the most exciting addition is the Champions League, with all the teams and its own commentators.
Seasons makes a comeback, and it’s arguably one of the most played FIFA modes online. Users choose a team and compete against other humans from around the world. If they win enough points, they move up and play against more difficult adversaries.
Of course, FIFA Ultimate Team is still available, for fans that want to build their dream team and compete against other players. It’s also the biggest source of income for EA because people can also use real money to buy FIFA points and get better players.
It’s also possible to try to start a fresh career as a manager or a player, similar to The Journey, but without the story. If you fancy playing a tournament from one of the included countries, that’s also possible as well, but you’ll be doing so against the AI.
One of the most exciting features is the option to create a team with ten other people, with each of you playing their position, and to compete against a similarly built team. It’s a lot of fun, but you’ll need a lot of friends.
With so much content, it’s not difficult to see that you’re not going to get bored, although I suspect that many of these new features are only being added to bring in new players. Old players already know what they want before the game is even launched.
- Better ball control
- New gameplay modes
- Champions League added
- The Journey continues
- New strategies
- The new shooting mechanic is not intuitive
- Some small physics bugs
I’m one of them. I usually play Seasons, and I’m not all that interested in Ultimate Team. I wanted more variation and unpredictable gameplay, and I got those. It’s not the best implementation, and it will take me a while to learn them.
But I can also imagine that changing the shooting mechanic will not go well with all the fans. Now, to have a better chance of scoring from a distance, you have to tap the button twice, and the second press needs to be precise. Up until now, we had to keep the button pressed just long enough. I know that it doesn’t sound like much, but it’s a big adjustment.
If I were to name a single significant change, this would be the one. I don’t know how users are going to react, but I’m willing to bet that in six months after everyone got accustomed to it, FIFA 19 is going to be named the best in the series by the people who are playing it.