Each year, millions of football fans decide whether to upgrade to the latest FIFA or keep on with the version they already own. The good news is that FIFA 19 offers a surprising amount of additional content and gameplay enhancements making this new release a worthy upgrade. From precision ball controls to stacks of new modes, FIFA 19 is not only a more comprehensive package but one that caters to both hardcore football fans and gamers looking for a fun, competitive experience.
On the field, ball control is more precise thanks to the Active Touch System. First touch controls allow you to flick-up volleys and perform more subtle movements using the right thumbstick. Not only can this offer more control over the ball, but also encourages more creativity and personalised play style. Although it’s easy to make mistakes while getting the hang of it.
Finishers add additional challenges through a risk-reward system. Double tapping shoot on any goal attempt triggers a timed finish, placing you in control of how accurately you connect with the ball. A precise second tap increases accuracy and power, while a poorly timed tap is more likely to miss the mark. Timed finishers are not a game changer. They are optional, and forgettable. There’s nothing wrong with the traditional striking.
50/50 Battles are now determined by timing and the attributes of the players involved. It’s not a huge leap but a tweak that makes it easier to understand how and why the tackle played out in the way it did.
FIFA 19 packs extra tactical options pre-match, as well as making dynamic in-match adjustments using the D-Pad. Dynamic Tactics manages both formations and mentalities, encouraging you to alter attacking plays or defensive responses to counter an opponent’s tactics.
FIFA 19 also implements a fourth player substitute to coincide with the rule being added to the real-world game.
After a decade in the hands of rival franchise Pro Evolution Soccer, the UEFA comes to FIFA 19. We’re talking the Europa League and Super Cup, completely integrated into Career and Ultimate Team. That’s new teams, players and stadiums, all with authentic broadcast overlays and commentators Derek Rae and Lee Dixon completing the unique atmosphere.
Overall, FIFA 19’s presentation is exceptional. Built on the Frostbite engine, FIFA 19 features improved animations making player movements and reactions more realistic and detailed. The soundtrack is also one best in recent memory.
The new House Rules modes shake up the traditional football experience to give players additional arcade action. Survival Mode is the big one and FIFA’s answer to the Battle Royale. Each time you score a goal, the opposition loses a randomly selected player and vice versa. Losing a player means you have to continually adjust your strategy, ramping up the tension.
The other notable modes include Headers & Volleys. Players can only score goals from headers or a volley. In No Rules, anything goes. There are no offside calls, fouls, or bookings. Long Range adds new scoring rules similar to basketball. Any goal scored inside the box will count as one goal, but goals scored from outside the box count as two. House Rules is a welcome addition and nice break from the seriousness of Career and Ultimate Team.
Speaking of Ultimate Team, the popular mode receives just a few new notable additions. Division Rivals matches you against players of a similar skill level, and you compete for weekly rewards. Adding the UEFA means there are new ICONs to unlock, including Steven Gerrard, Raúl, and Rivaldo along with classic legends like Johan Cruyff and Eusebio.
The Journey: Champions is this year’s story mode. It features three protagonists: the returning Alex Hunter, Danny Williams and Kim Hunter, each with their own story to play through. You can choose to play all three storylines together or focus on one character at a time. Journey: Champions consists of a mix of football games, training drills and interviews, the latter being increasingly painful to watch as the story goes on. None of the three stories is particularly engaging or well written, but add 15 hours of content which is a lot of scripted content for a sports game.
FIFA 19 is not perfect. Timed finishes are a gimmick that will likely die quietly. I’m also annoyed Usain Bolt didn’t make the roster for the Central Coast Mariners. DLC maybe? It’s refreshing to see EA Sports actively improve its games and adapt to the shifting gaming industry, instead of releasing a similar game year-after-year made appealing by updated rosters and the higher online player count. FIFA 19 is the best football game in years, and while it doesn’t go to the extremes of games like Rocket League and NBA Jam, House Rules is a welcome reminder that FIFA is, in fact, a fun video game.
FIFA 19 is available now on PC, PS4, Xbox One and Nintendo Switch.
Man of Many received a copy of the game courtesy of the publisher.