A review of FIFA 19, EA’s latest instalment in its world-conquering soccer series, seems a little superfluous. After all, anyone with any interest in this game doesn’t need a review to inform their purchase – they most likely pre-ordered it months ago.
Still, for those hovering on the fence about whether or not this game is a worthwhile investment, allow this statement to provide some clarity; if you have even a passing interest in soccer then FIFA 19 is an essential purchase. It really is that good.
FIFA 19 sets out it stall right from the moment one boots it up. It begins with a fantasy Champions League clash between Paris St Germain and Juventus (reminding players of both Ronaldo’s recent move and the fact that EA now holds Europe’s premier competition’s license). The game also serves to highlight the changes the developers have been working on over the last year and the difference in the gameplay between FIFA 19 and it’s predecessor is notable from the kick off.
Passing is a more nuanced affair and that players on the ball can no longer out-distance their marker simply by sprinting up field – no matter how fast they are off the ball. This translates into a situation in which the player can no longer make up ground by pinging the ball into space and having fast attackers bomb onto it. The defensive AI feels outright aggressive; not only do defenders harangue players with the ball, they move to close down passing options and get into space to intercept through balls. Goalies are more of a challenge than ever; this is initially intimidating – even frustrating at times – but ultimately it makes every goal feel earned, which really is as it should be.
The game is a lot more physical than its predecessor too; tackles can now look eye-wateringly harsh and as players zone in on the ball, shirt-tugging and barging become the order of the day. When two players go head to head, one can almost feel the intensity as they battle for the ball.
FIFA 19 casts a wide net; if you’re a player who just wants to breeze through matches, taking your favourite team to the top of the table as manager (or star player), well you can do that. But FIFA 19 also caters for the hardcore too. Players can tinker with anything from formations to tactical options to game plans (which allow them to switch tactics and positioning up on the fly).
FIFA 19 contains all the modes fans have come to expect over the last couple of years – Career, Exhibition and Online among them. The franchise’s story mode – The Journey – makes another return, this time splitting the action between three players who have varying goals to make. It’s fun, but lightweight and unlikely to inspire repeat play throughs. On top of that the FIFA Ultimate Team card game is back, and it’s largely the same, with the exception of Division Mode, that allows players to qualify for tournaments a lot quicker.
Really what else do you need to know? FIFA 19 may not do enough to entice the PES crowd to it, but for fans of this series, there is enough game here to keep you playing through the current soccer season and beyond.