Thursday 19 October 2017

FIFA 18 review: Responding to criticism

FIFA 18 (XO/PS4/PC/PS3/X360) ★★★★★ Age: 7+

FIFA 18 for XO/PS4
FIFA 18 for XO/PS4
Ronan Price

Ronan Price

Press a button, wait half a second, watch player on-screen eventually respond. FIFA 18 has tinkered with many aspects of its football this year but tackling lag was high on the list.

Now the response time to your inputs has been shaved thanks to improved animations and smarter coding. It's not perfect and is undoubtedly subjective versus the merits of Pro Evo Soccer 2018. But it's the key to why you might buy FIFA 18 if you already own the 2017 edition.

Certainly, in other areas, FIFA retains and enhances its crown as the most beautiful, most complete version of football. A second helping of 'The Journey', FIFA's celeb-laden story, is pleasantly diverting while the 'Ultimate Team' card-collecting mode is as deep as your pockets allow it to be.

Overall, the differences seem minimal, nonetheless, and it's that zippier pace on the pitch that determines whether you pick this up instead of PES 2018 or stick with FIFA 17.

 

fifa18_switch_1.jpg
FIFA 18 on Nintendo Switch

FIFA 18 for Switch

★★★★ Age: 7+

A LOT of football has been played in the five years since EA last deemed a Nintendo platform worthy of a version of FIFA. This edition for Switch exists no doubt due both to the power of the new console and its rapidly growing user base.

On the go, it delivers a fizzing, lively helping of football, complete with the polish and razzmatazz of the main series.

But don’t mistake FIFA 18 on Switch as the equivalent of its siblings on Xbox One and PS4. That's why there's a separate review here. For while it parlays its portability into a winning formula up to a point, as a home-console interpretation of booting a ball around a pitch, it comes up short.

Nintendo must shoulder a sizeable share of the blame because it has saddled the Switch with an inferior online service, which renders matchmaking a chore. This in turn made EA’s job far more difficult in building online multiplayer modes. EA enables matches only against randomers but not friends, thus withholding one of FIFA’s great draws.

It might be fairer to compared the Switch version to an older edition, such as FIFA 17 or even 16, such is the absence of a host of features. Some gamers may not miss The Journey, FIFA’s story mode, but they will clock the absence of the sharper visuals and animations present in the later games (even in docked mode), not to mention a few recent additions such as transfer negotiations.

EA admits privately this is very much a version in its early stages and we can expect something nearer parity next year.

All this being said, FIFA for Switch ranks as possibly the best portable version of football ever made. It runs as smooth as butter on the small screen, packs plenty of local multiplayer options (such as two-player with the Joy-Con controllers on one screen), and manages to include most of Ultimate Team's goodness too.

Yes, the omissions and shortcomings are disappointing. But if you’re coming to FIFA fresh, it’s an enjoyable and highly playable take on the beautiful game.

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