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FIFA 18 Review

Updated on February 8, 2018


This seems to be a recurring trend for me to allow toxicity back into my lifetime and time again. If it’s not scorned women whom I have turned down, it’s EA with its entire series of FIFA games. After giving FIFA 17a chance in redeeming itself in my eyes, I was yet again let-down. I clearly remember myself saying that there is not a chance in hell that I would be purchasing or playing FIFA 18.

Boy am I a hypocrite.If there’s an overriding theme within FIFA 18, it’s ‘status quo maintained’. That might not be a phrase publisher EA chooses to stick on the packaging, but it’s intended as a compliment: FIFA 17 was so strong that to rip everything out and start again, at a time when rival PES is stronger than ever, would have been a Lee-Dixon-esque own goal.

The biggest game on the planet improves markedly in every key area. FIFA fans will adore it. PES die-hards: well, be grateful that your beloved is a beauty too.

While FIFA 18 disposes of with the tradition of initially feeling unfamiliar – or, as social media posts proclaim every September, “broken” – its on-pitch improvements only become clear with sustained play. So while speed and physicality remain matchday pillars, crossing can now be devastating too; players properly whip balls through the box, and in both Ultimate Team and Career Mode you’ll find yourself hunting affordable equivalents of Gareth Bale and Arjen Robben to capitalize on this new ability to cause aerial havoc

Madness in the middle

Quality central play still unlocks chances too, although center-backs and defensive midfielders are quicker to close you down or pounce on loose balls. In that respect, this harks back to FIFA 16, where higher-difficulty opponents’ pressing abilities felt superhuman.

For now, it’s a satisfying middle ground between the two previous games. AI teams are savvier going forwards too, varying up their tactics – so Arsenal drives you mad by retaining possession around the box, while Burnley or Stoke deploy more direct approaches. The variety still doesn’t match that of PES, but it’s a definite improvement over FIFA 17’s everyone-tries-tiki-taka blueprint.

When not hunting bargain-bin Bales in Ultimate Team, you’re racking up coins in recognizable ways: seasons (online and off), weekend leagues, FUT Draft, and the again-brilliant Squad Building Challenges.

The model's main new feature, Squad Battles, pits you against AI teams selected by celebrities and other FIFA experts; the more matches you win in any given week, the better your rewards. It’s a basic concept, but hugely welcome for offline-only players unable to get close to weekend league qualification. Otherwise, updated pack-opening visuals are as fresh as FUT gets – but you’ll play it non-stop for nine months regardless.

Career Mode receives more attention, with a lovely transfer hub from which you conduct your business replacing the endless menu cycling that used to accompany attempts to buy players. Potential ins and outs are presented in super-clean list form, with negotiations now handled face to face with the selling club’s manager – a cute, if superficial, inclusion.

It’s in Career Mode that the aforementioned AI tactical variation really adds longevity; at long last, the sense of facing the same opponent wearing a different kit each week has eased.

It’s Hunter… Again

For those who are unfamiliar, Alex Hunter is the main protagonist in FIFA 17’s career mode known as The Journey. The game focuses on Hunter as he progresses from going through trials to signing for his favourite team, being benched for the more physically gifted Harry Kane, having your best friend stab you in the back, being sent away on loan to a Championship team and then being recalled back later in the season to winning the Premier League Title, the FA Cup and getting a call-up to the England national team (which is still a bit of a joke.)

The Journey was one of the few redeeming qualities of FIFA 17 and it seems that EA is not willing to let it go yet with the second installment titled ‘The Journey: Hunter Returns’.

If you played FIFA 17 and completed the career mode, you will be able to import your Alex Hunter from the previous game into FIFA 18 or choose to start fresh. For what it’s worth, I never finished The Journey on FIFA 17 because Newcastle United is a rubbish football team with teammates that are only fit for the casual Sunday League games.

This time, FIFA 18’s career mode has expanded to twice of what you experienced in the first installment. From not only meet more legendary players like Cristiano Ronaldo, Thierry Henry, and Rio Ferdinand, you will also be able to meet Houston Rockets shooting guard, James Harden (all through cutscenes of course.)

Chasing the Hunter

For the second year running it’s a pretend footballer who outshines all of his real-life counterparts. The Journey: Hunter Returns brings back fictional prospect Alex Hunter for a storyline in which you compete in matches across the globe – no spoilers, other than to say the introductory FIFA Street-style kickaround in a Brazilian favela is outstanding – and partake in cut-scenes with cameos by Rio Ferdinand, Cristiano Ronaldo (terribly acted, bless him), plus Hunter’s team-mates, agents and family.

For the second year running it’s a pretend footballer who outshines all of his real-life counterparts

Its worldwide scope offers a broader story than FIFA 17’s, and it’s more tightly written and believably acted, too – as though Adetomiwa Edun has effectively become one with his on-screen alias.

Most ingenious is GTA-style editing options, right down to the tape worn around Hunter’s socks, which constantly drive you to unlock more goodies. This is a character that already feels as integral to FIFA as white boots and online tantrums – and if it means yet another Hunter adventure arriving in FIFA 19, we’re quite happy with ‘status quo maintained’ to be the developer’s plan for that game, too

Still Some Ways To Go

As much as FIFA has improved over the years, it still lacks far behind PES’ fluidity and realism in terms of overall gameplay. Although the dribbling and ball control of FIFA 18 have improved with each individual player having its own unique running and dribbling style, the passing style of FIFA still needs to be worked on (yes, I’m salty that way.)

The AI-controlled teams are also something that hasn’t changed much from the predecessor as they are still as stupid as ever, making clumsy challenges over and over. For all the bells and whistles FIFA 18 offers with the Frostbite 3 game engine in terms of match atmosphere, realism and intensity, it still lacks in giving you adequate players.

I mean seriously, how does a player with 89 pace beat out another with 93? What kind of sorcery is this? I cannot even anymore…

Aside from its career mode, the one redeeming quality of FIFA 18 is Pro Clubs. Instead of having to gain stat levels through playing, you will also receive attribute points to spend on a skill tree to further enhance your player’s stats.

The EA Store is also up-to-date with the latest boots already added by the time I got the game. Sadly, I still have some ways to go before hitting level 55 and unlocking Cristiano Ronaldo’s latest boots, the Nike Mercurial Superfly V.

Bless The EA Gods

Much like most games, EA has its very own God as well. Just when you thought the game was going your way and you’re cruising to a hard-earned one-nil lead that will promote your FUT to Division One, the game just decides to go “nope” and grants your opponent two goals in the space of two minutes through horrible goalkeeping.As I cursed and cussed which will make my late grandfather roll in his grave, I stopped to think about my actions before I threw my controller towards the wall on instinct. Already filled with marks, scratches and chipped paint from previous controllers (all due to FIFA, mind you), I slowly pick up the broken pieces, dispose them and start looking for another controller. Yes, I bought quite a few of them beforehand because I knew what to expect and so should you.

© 2018 Utsho Majumder Joy

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