It’s a damn fine time to be a football fan, as both Pro Evolution Soccer and EA Sports’ FIFA have been great for several years now. Both titles feature great gameplay on the pitch, and a diverse offering of solo and multiplayer modes. Deciding between the two football sims ultimately comes down to the finer points, and it’s the small details that end up differentiating the two titles.
Football is known as the “beautiful game,” and that gracefulness is seen all throughout FIFA 18. Nothing beats making a tight through pass that leads to a score, and it’s these moments that keep players coming back for more each year. While it’s not always immediately noticeable due to how far the camera has to be zoomed out to cover the field, Electronic Arts’ football game is beautiful in its own right. Player models look fantastic, fans in the crowd react realistically during replays, and I was constantly impressed whenever I got to see the on-field action from another perspective.
One of the ways that helps separates FIFA 18 from PES is how much more welcoming it is for new players. Even if you’ve never played a football game or barely know the rules, Electronic Arts has made it so that everyone can have a good job. From tutorials under the guise of mini-games that play during loading screens to an excellent on-screen skills trainer (a helpful user interface that players can choose to turn off if they wish), FIFA will help players improve their play no matter what their current skill level is. I’ve been playing football games for well over a decade, and yet I still found the on-screen trainer helpful. After using it for a few hours, I started passing the ball better and was setting up more opportunities than ever before.
The big selling point of last year’s iteration of FIFA was the addition of a cinematic story mode. In it, players took control of Alex Hunter, and the success of the young upstart was dependent on their performance. Last year was a solid start, but the mode returns this year and is much better now that it’s gotten out of the tired “rookie find his ground” story.
While it’s still undeniably a story that revolves around football, the biggest storyline throughout the campaign focuses in on the relationship that Hunter has with his estranged father who left him and his mother at an early age. I was pleasantly surprised at how well the story was told, and how it handled some tricky subjects.
There’s quite a bit of fan-service to be had for sports fans as Hunter gets to interact with some all-time greats like Thierry Henry, Cristiano Ronaldo, and even NBA Live 18 cover star James Harden makes a few appearances during the story, but more impressive is how Electronic Arts takes quite a few risks during the story. While still remaining a story about Alex, the campaign also has the player controlling a few other characters throughout the story, and there are some hard choices to be made that’ll impact others. EA is really on a roll with the story modes in their sports titles, and I’m excited to see where Hunter’s career progresses next year.
On top of a really compelling story that’ll take players a few days to complete, FIFA also features all of the other modes that players would expect out of a football game. FIFA Ultimate Team (FUT) returns as a considerable time sink that completely fails to capture my attention (yet obviously it’s a huge money maker for a company, so that’s purely a personal gripe), and players can choose to manage an entire squad of players if they want in the career mode. Overall, it’s the most feature rich football title ever made, and there’s no shortage of options online and off.
It’s not just a bulk of content that makes FIFA 18 great, as it also nails a bunch of small things that add up to a greater experience. For example, the top-notch commentary helps underscore the importance of the on-field action, and everything from the core gameplay to the presentation is shining with polish. So much thought has gone into every aspect, and it really shows while playing.
FIFA 18 is an incredible football game that has something to offer every gamer. There’s a very human and relatable story to be found in Alex Hunter’s latest chapter, and those who just want polished gameplay will find just that in its many different modes. In addition, anyone who is a fan of the beautiful game will want to check out this year’s installment.
FIFA 18 review code provided by publisher. Reviewed on PlayStation 4 Pro. For more information on scoring, please read our Review Policy.