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Review: FIFA 19 trumps its predecessor

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It's a few days after the release of EA Sports' latest title, FIFA 19. Ronaldo has kept his place on the front cover, Martin Tyler and Alan Smith are still in the commentary box and it still seems to be the best football game going. So what's changed? The National Student put writer, Nathan Best, on the case...

Above: "It's finally time!"

I feel as though with every annual FIFA release there is always that anticipation and instant relief once you start playing the game. It's great again!

But, on closer inspection, and after about two weeks, you are left with broken TV screens and broken controllers because of the things EA have not fixed from the previous title. This review discusses my first-time experiences with the game, as well as a look at the new features of the game including The Champions League and the in-depth journey.

These new features are the focus of this review rather than Ultimate Team, but watch out for Ultimate Team content in the near future... 

Gameplay

The gameplay itself feels more realistic than ever. On the tactics section before every game, you can set in more detail how you want your team to play. You can adjust what your team does without the ball and the team’s shape. This brings the game closer to the details levels of Football Manager titles. 

The shooting is more manually controlled this year, as is the passing at times, which could be a blessing or a nightmare depending on your personal preference. I found it a mixed experience but can see why the change has been made. EA and any other game manufacturer would want to give you that realism aspect, as you the gamer try to immerse yourself into the experience. 

The set-pieces overall are fine. Free-kicks and the penalties haven't changed much. Corners though, I do have a slight problem with because at times you are putting a bit of projection onto the ball, only for that corner not to beat the first man. The corner takers have been given more importance this year and where they take that corner from. For example, if you are selecting Juan Mata to take a corner from the left, the corner needs to be more controlled due to inevitable outswing. Other than that, I feel the gameplay is better in this department than its predecessor due to some of the game's added depth. 

The Journey and The Champions League

This year marks the first time in ten years that Pro Evolution Soccer will not have the rights to The Champions League. EA have snapped them up and claimed the rights to the Europa League too.

In terms of presentation, I think they have done The Champions League a huge service as the look of it is fantastic. The Champions League is featured as a game mode and as part of career mode and of course The Journey, which was heavily advertised before the game’s release. I do like the use of the different commentary of Derek Rae and Lee Dixon as it gives it a more personalised feel in differing from the usual league commentary of Martin Tyler and Alan Smith.

The first thing I did at the 12AM release on Friday was to play The Journey. In both FIFA 17 and FIFA 18, we have seen the rise and developing story of Alex Hunter which mirrors the life of a professional footballer. This year, EA have added two coinciding stories with Danny Williams (Alex’s friend) and Kim Hunter (Alex’s sister).

You can choose any of the three characters to play with at any time, but it is recommended that you select the right person for storyline purposes, which I think it is a great thing to do. With Alex, you join Real Madrid and you start developing a brand similar to “CR7”. Danny, on the other hand, is now in a position to lead his team but you see a vulnerable side to him when we learn he has an older brother. Again, little elements develop the story. With Kim Hunter, she joins the World Cup squad for the USA National team and you juggle college work and being a pro-footballer.

It’s fair to say The Journey has been a fantastic addition to the FIFA franchise. This year especially with the added storylines which follow on from the previous titles, it gives you far more freedom as to whose destiny you want to control.

Final thoughts

So far, I am thoroughly enjoying FIFA 19. This may still be partially down to the initial excitement but my experience of the game so far is showing it to be a big improvement on FIFA 18. 

As I mentioned, The Journey has been fantastic thus far with the added storyline scenarios and with The Champions League, it feels as though the biggest European Competition in the game is finally home.

Rating: 8/10

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