by Dillon Meehan
In the world of sports video games, FIFA is king. At the beginning of every fall, EA Sport’s newest rendition of it’s dominant soccer series its released to the wild. Generally the games make minor changes building on each previous release.
However, a lot has changed over the past two years. Last year, EA’s “Frostbite” engine, the tech that was used to make the “Battlefield” and “Star Wars Battlefront” games look almost photorealistic, was used. And just like in every year previous, changes were made to make the gameplay as realistic as possible. But that isn’t the case this year.
Instead of striving forward to make the core gameplay as real as possible, FIFA instead has favored flashy attacking play and awe-inspiring moments. By no means does it make the game bad, but it’s a noticeably different direction.
The game has placed more of an emphasis on attackers bombing down towards their opponents end of the field with every pass, regardless of it’s difficulty, being completed with ease. Also, shots from distance are now far more likely to go in than in previous iterations. Simply put, the game is directed more towards a phenomenal moment happening nearly every single game, rather than it being a rare occurrence.
The problem with that is that it almost renders certain teams obsolete, or causes the user to play differently. Teams like Atletico Madrid and Juventus, who have a history of being defensive powerhouses, feel obsolete. Obviously you can still play as those teams, but your play style has to be predicated towards attacking play.
Team’s aren’t alone either, players like Fernandinho, N’Golo Kante and Casemiro feel almost useless. Their ability to intercept passes and forcibly dispossess opponents doesn’t feel appreciated because the game makes defending against elite players near impossible.
The style of play leads to inflated scores and constant action, which is obviously fun. However, it’s uncharted waters for a franchise which for years has tried to make the game feel as real as possible.
Last year, EA introduced a narrative based story mode titled “The Journey,” following English teenager Alex Hunter. This years sequel, unoriginally titled “The Journey: Hunter Returns” follows a more popular Alex, who is now moved on from his goal of simply being a professional athlete, to now wanting to be one of the world’s best and win championships.
The character is noticeably different from last year, going from an underdog to a confident superstar, but he is still likable. The issue with the mode is that the user is sometimes left powerless in decision making.
Last year, every dialogue option carried meaning, in it’s sequel it’s the opposite. Often times you decide one answer to a question or statement Hunter will make and it bases the entire conversation over that one choice. As a whole, the mode feel almost empty, which is a step down considering how much fun the original mode was last year.
Overall, FIFA 18 is still a great game, the gameplay is still extremely fun. It’s just that the bias towards attacking play makes playing as certain teams, or certain play styles much less enjoyable.