The latest iteration of the popular franchise is back with a bang this year and Cristiano Ronaldo ditching the overflowing white of the Bernabeu for the obsidian and white strips of the Bianconeri is not the only big change to note. FIFA 19 takes a seat on the interrogation table in a bid to determine what’s new, what works, what doesn’t and what should be tweaked next year.
1) Improved gameplay
Before FIFA 18, gameplay was all about pacey wingers and a certain header to round off a sure goal. Last year’s edition sought to alleviate this conundrum with a slow-paced gameplay thrown into the fold. While it somewhat worked- until it didn’t- FIFA 19 went to back to the drawing board and got it spot on this time around. Player responsiveness has been commendably tightened while there is a nice balance of power and pace with regards to through passes and regular passes.
Moreover, gameplay has gotten a lot more realistic and physical which is actually a good thing. You can feel the intensity of duels while 50/50 challenges afford a more level playing field than in the past. Speedsters are also no longer unfathomably uncatchable while goalkeepers aren’t as inhumanly flawless as before and you’ll see them occasionally error with crosses and saves. In a nutshell, the game feels like a natural and proper match akin to the real world alternative.
2) More tactical options
The introduction of dynamic controls has seen a great improvement in the flexibility of game plans. Players can now tweak the nitty-gritty e.g. deciding who stays back or goes up for corners, how marauding fullbacks attack among other small yet essential details. Moreover, customized game plans can now be saved for quick access via the D-Pad/ right joystick depending on which is your preferred tool of movement.
3) UEFA tournaments
The UEFA Champions League and the UEFA Europa League finally make their way into the 19th edition after having been previously shackled to bitter rivals PES for the better part of a decade. The absence of football’s biggest club competition always left like something was missing but now the game is truly complete. The transition comes with all the accompanying benefits such as the new UEFA commentating pair of Lee Dixon and Derek Rake to supplement regulars Martin Tyler and Allan Smith who continue in charge of league duties.
What else is new this Year?
1) Timed finishing
This is either good or bad depending on where you’re standing but timed finished is an intriguing new feature witnessed for the first time since the inception of the video game. By tapping your shot button a second time right before you left fly, you can initiate a timed meter- akin to the FIFA 14 penalties- whose precision will increase shot power and accuracy.
2) Unpredictable goal kicks
Those who like to play out from the back know the pain of losing possession from a goal kick as the camera gives away which player you are kicking to the ball to. That is no longer the case though as the camera doesn’t shift direction with your controls making goal kicks secretive.
3) Excellent first touches
Long gone are the days when a player would take ages to bring the ball in his stride as first touches have greatly improved. The incorporation of an active touch system also allows good control with other parts of the body.
4) No rule modes
To switch things up a bit when playing with friends, EA has added new modes that tear up the rule book like never before. You can now enforce policies such as no-headed/volleyed goals, the red-card-per-goal rule whereby a player is sent off for every goal the opposition scores and many other fun customizations that defy standard footballing.
1) Career mode sees no changes whatsoever
Save for the addition of the two premier UEFA competitions, nothing has changed in this year’s career mode and Pro Club adventures. Everything is pretty much the same as last year except for “The journey” that welcomes its curtain-closing chapter.
2) Weak foot weakness
One could still get in decent shots even on a player’s less favored foot in previous versions however gameplay changes have seen week foot shooting get even weaker. Well, except for star players such as Lionel Messi, of course, you’re more likely to hit the advertisement boards than the back of the net with weak foot attempts particularly from far out the pitch.
All in all, FIFA has made great strides this year with their latest iteration met with nodding heads the world over. Gameplay is improved, the new features are welcomed and the tactic changes are admirable. Definite thumbs up!