Alex Hunter returns in FIFA 18 as part of The Journey, but like many young players, his career takes a sudden turn and he finds himself looking for a new club. To add to that Alex’s Dad is back in his life with a revolution that rocks young Hunter.
I enjoyed EA’s first attempt at The Journey last year, and it’s good to see plenty of improvements have been made to bring me back in for another year. The story is fairly interesting, if a bit predictable but it mixes nicely with the football to make an enjoyable career mode. It was great to play as some different characters during the campaign also.
This years, Alex can be customised, outfits, hair, tattoos all allow you to create your own version of Hunter, while in game, some key decisions will define your future. The campaign took me around 14 in all, after each chapter your are rewards with special items that can be used in FIFA Ultimate team.
FIFA UT, is unsurprisingly the other main mode in FIFA 18, and if you have been hiding under a rock for the past few years this is the mode where you collect players to build your dream team. Although there aren’t masses of changes it’s still an entertaining mode if you are willing to put the time in. A new feature called Squad Battles allows you to to play against other players squads via AI to earn coins. It’s a bit like drivatars in Forza.
Manager mode has had some great improvements. Most noticeable is during the transfer window. You’ll now play a mini game where you will sit down with a players agent and make an offer. Once the two parties have agreed on a price, you’ll move to the next section where you negotiate with the player to secure their signature. It isn’t the most exciting of sections but it’s nice to see efforts being made to give you some more interaction when trying to sign players.
It’s great to see that the offline modes have been finally had some attention given to them, as it was much needed – I know enough people who don’t want to just play Ultimate Team as it takes up so much time!
Of course, having all these nice changes to the different game modes is great, but have things improved on the pitch? Last year with FIFA 17 things didn’t quite work on the pitch, which caused great frustrations for fans.
The good news is, FIFA 18 seems to have found its stride. It’s the second year of using the Frostbite engine but now it’s even more noticeable thanks to even more player animations, which creates a much more fluid game of football. Last year we were critical of losing out because players kept getting stuck in animations and therefore losing possession and conceding goals. Not this year.
Shielding the ball gives you greater options of slowing down play where needed, while players turn more sharply and dribble more intricately which makes losing the ball more difficult. EA have made some clever changes when crossing – depending on the wingers position, balance and how hard you hit the ball determines the height speed and direction allowing stronger attackers to get on the end of wicked crosses. Strikers now head the ball down for the first time which is a big improvement.
EA have always nailed the presentation and this year is no exception. Each stadium is more lifelike than ever. Depending on the time of day the lightning changes around the pitch, the crowd are more individual, players will run into the crowd to celebrate with the fans now, there is a great video around of a steward trying to climb over the advertising hoardings and falling over! It’s little changes but they make for a proper football experience.
The FIFA trainer has had some great updates for those who wish to practice playing without the assists. You can now tell the game how much you want to be told what to do. I try to turn the shooting assist off but my ability to shoot in the right direction was always off, with the FIFA trainer you can just have a subtle direction arrow at the players feet to help you line up shots much more easily.
The question on everyone’s lips is, which is better, FIFA or PES? After my PES review I was concerned that FIFA was going to be blown away this year. I saw very little gameplay and the demo arrived very late in the day, but actually I think FIFA takes this year’s crown, but only just.
Both games have their faults – Playing FIFA online can be tarnished by letting people with bad connections play, while PES can still feel a little lifeless at times.
Whichever way you choose to go, you’ll be lucky enough to play two fantastic games, I’ll just be playing more FIFA.