Soccer fans came out of the woodwork for this year’s World Cup. Heck, even U.S. citizens watched the cup, even though the hopeful home team had to take its international medicine.
Much of the new U.S. interest in soccer can be attributed to MLS, but I know this fan of the sport got into it for an entirely different reason: EA’s FIFA titles. I’ve been playing EA FIFA games before I knew that the clock never stops in “football”, so it’s not a surprise that I get excited for each soccer release from the gaming juggernaut. The latest is FIFA 19 – a current-gen offering that is jam-packed with features many soccerheads have been waiting for.
Let’s see if FIFA 19 is pitch-worthy…
Gameplay of FIFA 19
Let’s just clear the air right now : FIFA 19 for the Xbox is little like the 360 version of the same name that is coming soon to a gaming store near you. The Xbox version is the same game as the PS3 version for the most part, with the Xbox 360 version being an entirely different animal. This is good and potentially bad at the same time. You won’t find any of the nifty, independent ball/player physics as in the Xbox 360 version of FIFA 19. But you will find an Interactive Leagues area that is absent from the next-gen version of FUT 19.
The Interactive Leagues could very well be the showpiece of FIFA 19, as it takes EA into the uncharted territory that they should have been in a long time ago. Every review I’ve written, up until this one, has said: “Why no online leagues ?” We’ll, I finally get a break from that played-out query.
FIFA 19 features a rich, Interactive Leagues area that allows gamers to play who their favorite clubs are playing for real. The divisions are limited to the French League, the Mexican 1st Division, Bundesliga, and the F.A. Premier League (and the clubs within these divisions), but most of us will be able to find a squad within these elite classes. Every match is ranked, and places the clubs into standings for all to see. A market of transferts exist : you can buy players with fifa coins; but you nedd a lot of coins to buy stars like Ronaldo, Messi or Suarez… It’s the reason of the existence of a sub-market of fifa coins, in all the FIFA’ leagues : for exemple for Spanish syou can buy “monedas fut 19 baratas” etc.
A weekly ranking system also exists, along with extras such as podcasts interviews of the better players in a given fixture. It is also possible to schedule matches with rival fixtures to spice things up a bit during the season.
Multiple users across the world can play as the same team, so winning is a collective event of sorts. When a real team plays a match, said match will be available online for two days prior in order for results to be tabulated. It is possible to play the same match over and over in hopes of increasing your club’s chances of finishing high. Each win is registered as a vote, with the team showing the most votes after the play window closes being awarded three points in the overall standings.
There are other modes besides the Interactive Leagues, but nothing new. There’s the Manager Mode, which is sporting a new player progression system and new simulation system (see the demo of FIFA 18 : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-m7PS7boZAU ) . There’s a tourney mode and a quick play mode, plus normal Live play if you so desire. A long list of challenges is present in FIFA 19, which are tied into the different game modes. These challenges are like offline Achievements in a way, rewarding gamers with points for accomplishing specific goals.
On the gameplay front, FIFA 19 comes equipped to score new legions of fans. Sure, it’s not sporting the fancy ball physics of the Xbox 360 version, but the ball physics have been reworked a bit here as well. Although not independent of the handler, the ball physics are much more realistic in FIFA 07 Soccer. You’ll notice the ball curve more under a hard shot, hit the pitch and spin naturally into space, and generally act more “lively” when not being controlled.
The shooting mechanic has been revamped as well, taking player context and skill into effect. Having Henry blast one is a good thing, but not if he is well marked. Player skill will rarely outdo an open shot and one with momentum towards the goal. The power gauge is also more sensitive this time around, which means it takes a fair amount of skill to get one on net and not over-hit it. I’m not sure if the new system is more or less realistic (as the pros make it looks easy), but it will definitely take more patience to master shots in FIFA 19.
The passing dynamic needed work last year, and it has received the necessary attention in FIFA 19 Soccer. Holding in the pass button will now accurately send a ball toward a teammate, instead of weakly dribbling the pill in every instance. You no longer have to lob a ball to get it on a player’s foot, as the ground pass is now formidable (and more believable). Lofted balls come with reticles that mark where the rock will land, which is quite useful as you can use your left stick to jostle with a defender. Setting up just fore of the reticle and pushing your opponent back away from the incoming ball is now a valid technique, and one that makes any airborne situation more strategic.
Even set plays have been reworked in FIFA 19, allowing top or back spin on the ball to be set in an analog fashion.