Every year the spiel is more or less the same: almost concurrently with the start of the new football season, the two competing themed video games arrive on the market, with a whole corollary behind it made up of promises, offers and long discussions on the forums between fans of both titles. After having reviewed Pro Evolution Soccer 2018, it is time for us to take care of his direct "opponent" as well, that is to say that FIFA that in recent years has stolen the scepter of the best football simulation on the market from the Konami series. A trophy that the developer, EA Sports, doesn't seem willing to give up, judging by this FIFA 18. Let's see why.
Like every year, FIFA presents itself to users with a lot of content. From the classic friendlies to be played locally or online, where we recorded a good matchmaking system and a fair stability of the servers, to the Season mode, also available in the double home version and via the Network, up to the Pro Club, to tournaments official or customizable for clubs and national teams, to women's football competitions, the offer is as always very rich. However, the core of the experience remain as has been the case for some years now, the Ultimate Team and Career modes, and from last season, The Journey. The first is now well known, and is a favorite of fans of the series: as always, it consists in creating one's ideal team by basing the purchases and exchanges of players, represented by a sticker that indicates their global value, on an auction system. . The biggest novelty of this year is represented by the presence of the Icons, cards depicting stars of the past such as Ronaldo, Maradona and Pele, which have three different versions to represent each three different moments of their career, some tweaks to the Squad Creation Challenges section with the inclusion of variables capable of increasing the level of challenge, and the Squad Battles mode which gives the opportunity to contend with other teams created within FUT by players, challenging however the team managed by artificial intelligence. However, we will come back to talk about it in depth separately in the future.
Career mode has also been improved, and a lot too: in addition to more functional menus, from a market perspective a special Hub has been implemented where you can always have everything under control and manage the negotiations in person with the clubs and with the players' representatives, complete with filmed and interactive skits. Dynamic movies have also been introduced for breaking news in the menu, pre-set workouts and new dynamics such as release clauses or transfer bonuses that make everything more compelling and credible. It's just a pity that, albeit to a lesser extent than in 2017, there are still some unlikely market operations. The third of the most important FIFA modes, as written above, is The Journey, which this year continues with The Return of Alex Hunter. The beautiful story mode that last year has been able to thrill many gamers by telling the football and human events of a young talent struggling with his attempt to break into the football that counts as in an interactive film, returns even more rich in content. Starting with the possibility of changing teams and tournaments, or the look of the protagonist. The picture is completed by more beautiful graphics, an even more cinematic cut of the events, the possibility of meeting or interpreting new characters and a deeper plot. The latter, in fact, digs even more into Alex's soul, who begins his new adventure in Brazil, among the favelas, as if he were looking for new stimuli before the seasonal commitments, in the eyes full of hope and passion for football of those poor kids he plays with on the street. Of this second chapter of The Journey we will certainly return to talk in more depth in the coming days.
But the beating heart of a sports simulation remains the playability, and then once you get on the pitch it is impossible not to notice the tweaks and finishing touches made by EA Sports to the controls, which are now more reactive, and to the general fluidity. Athletes, in fact, react faster on the field to the inputs they receive, and can naturally perform an innumerable series of moves. Thanks to the Real Player technology, which has increased the animations and made them much more natural even when it comes to micro-movements. In this way, the action always develops smoothly, and the movements of the players are even more correlated to the dynamics related to running and body gestures during acceleration and deceleration, dribbling or changes of direction. .
In combination with what has just been described, a slightly more refined physics management than last year, which makes itself felt for example at every contact, an improved artificial intelligence and a more credible ball in the way of "behaving", especially in the rebounds. Consequently, actions, even personal ones, such as net conclusions and passages are more unpredictable; as far as team play is concerned, the search for physical contact, the will to manage the ball without losing it with abstruse plays, the commitment to the end are just some of the key elements that distinguish it. More generally, each formation tends to reflect in the way of acting that of their real counterparts, or at least so do the most famous clubs and national teams. This translates into an increase in the level of difficulty that goes hand in hand with increased realism, and in a rhythm of play that is sometimes frenetic, other reasoned, depending on the teams in the field or the result, but always plausible.
In the offensive phase there is more variety in the development of the actions and in the degree of participation of the members of the teams, among other things better positioned on the field, with sensible overlapping on the outside by wings or full backs, central insertions in turn by the medians, and attackers who, depending on their abilities, try to communicate with quick one-two, to create spaces or to avoid ending up offside. In the same way, in the defensive phase, the teams are more careful not to allow spaces and try to avoid one-on-one, with the full-backs ready to support the work of the central players with rapid diagonals. Even the goalkeepers are more reactive, especially in the exits, even if every now and then they get caught at the near post.
Climbing the defenses with vertical throws or sudden sprints is difficult, unless you find yourself overturning a situation, perhaps a corner kick, as is unbalancing the opponent's scorer and overcoming the more physical ones, which requires good timing and a careful evaluation of the action in progress. This does not mean that the player's play cannot have any effect or that it is not foreseen, on the contrary: a number of Cristiano Ronaldo can always blow the bank. In this sense, a moment of distraction is enough for the defender: losing the man who is marking or giving him that extra centimeter to allow him a feint or a dribble and the omelette is done. The AI of the CPU takes into account the defensive errors of the player and often exploits them properly to go to goal. And not only that: the new dribbling mechanics really allow you to have tighter changes of direction and, as seen before, more precise touches, even light ones, which in combination with what has already been written about Real Player technology, can be devastating. To report a small but nice news, that is related to the replacements that can be performed even without having to leave the match.
Moving on to analyze the technological part, we can only underline the goodness of the work of the EA Sports graphics and the good use of Frostbite in packaging a product visually similar to a television production. From this point of view, the direction of the game behaves well, which is particularly enhanced in those tournaments such as La Liga and the Premier League covered by an official license, and which therefore offer presentations and superimposed graphics taken from real British and Spanish TV broadcasts. . FIFA 18 then takes a further leap forward on PlayStation 4 also as regards the representation of players, shirts, and surrounding elements, which are confirmed to be of excellent workmanship, with attention to every detail. Regarding the athletes, not all faces are actually up to date, but we cannot complain, especially considering how the proportions of the polygonal models have been improved. and their animations in general, as we wrote earlier in this article. Those of the most famous footballers are customized, and represent almost the state of the art for a sports simulation like this. As always, the stadiums are excellent, animated by a very detailed audience and decorated with new banners and objects that vary according to the country they belong to, as does the climate management.
Four novelties in this sense, which are the Huddersfield and Brighton facilities that further enrich the already numerous colony of Premier League arenas, the Wanda Metropolitano of Atletico Madrid and the StubHun Center of Los Angeles FC. Camp Nou is absent again, but it was obvious, while for Italy there are only the Allianz Stadium of Juventus, San Siro of Milan and the Olympic Stadium of Rome. For its part, the audio is as always of a great level, with sounds, choruses and background effects capable of ideally catapulting the gamer into a real arena. Also in this case, depending on the gaming facilities and the regions of the world where the matches take place, the noises, the tunes, the intensity and certain characteristics of the cheering also change. A real show that helps to immerse yourself further in the context of a match or competition. The Italian commentary, as always entrusted to Pierluigi Pardo and Stefano Nava, was a bit disappointing. It is true, there are many new phrases, but at the base we have a fluctuating comment, with Pardo almost always "dynamic" and spontaneous, and a Nava against "mechanical and slow" in having his say on the various actions. Even with all the sympathy for the former AC Milan player, perhaps the time has come for a change.
FIFA 18 is a refined and mature title, which combines a handful of well-studied innovations with the formula and content package that for years have made it an absolute must for fans. The interesting innovations introduced in its three most popular modes, namely The Journey, Career and FUT, plus the new animations and refinements in terms of playability are in this case the most evident elements of the good work done by the developers starting from the solid foundations of FIFA 17.
- General improvements to gameplay, animations and artificial intelligence
- The Journey mode is even more exciting
- Most complete FIFA Ultimate Team
- Lots of content and licenses
- The behavior of the goalkeepers is generally good, but sometimes they let themselves be surprised at the near post
- There are still some strange transfers in Career mode
- The commentary should be partially renewed with the change of Stefano Nava