"What? FIFA 18 is the best FIFA ever, and it got a 10 out of 10?" Yes, that's right. In our opinion, this is the best FIFA that EA Sports has ever produced. It's a superb football simulator with refined gameplay where the player's creativity is rewarded with goals that look like they came from a real football match. It is also a game with spectacular graphics, marking the biggest evolution this generation, and it's full to bursting with content. FIFA Ultimate Team Mode has never been this good before, now appealing to both online and solo players. Even Career mode has been reinforced with several new features, but the big star here is The Journey. The story mode with Alex Hunter impressed us with some really cool moments, and we had a blast going throw it. All this wrapped up in through-the-roof production values. So, yes, FIFA 18 is the best FIFA ever.
Gameplay: Everything else is superfluous in a football game if the gameplay isn't up to par, but that's not the case, as FIFA 18 is an evolution from FIFA 17. In our opinion, FIFA 15 and FIFA 16 had some problems, and suffered from several gameplay changes made by EA Sports. They were not bad games at all, but there were issues. With FIFA 17, EA found its rhythm, and gameplay had once again become stable and fun. FIFA 18 is a continuation of this. It is a more complete, balanced, and polished version of what we saw last year, enriched with several new animations.
Everything works a little better. The difference between strong and lightweight players is clearer, as it is in terms of acceleration, dribbling, and pass quality. There is a more visible disparity in terms of player characteristics, which makes for a more realistic experience. This is also evident facing the artificial intelligence, where a game against Manchester United is not the same as facing Hull City (with all due respect to Hull).
FIFA 18 includes a new dribbling system, more sensitive to the nuances of player control. Dribbling powerhouses, like Messi and Neymar, are able to dribble and change direction with great ease, and a simple touch to change direction may be enough to leave a defender behind. Another novelty in terms of gameplay are the crosses, remade for better control. It is now easier to aim where the ball will be crossed - near, centre, far, or outside the box. It's a system that requires some getting used to, but we see it as a cool improvement.
There are many other new gameplay additions, such as allowing single kick-outs, quick substitutions without going to the menu, and the new animation system which allows for more fluid and dynamic reactions. More importantly, FIFA 18 is a solid experience. We haven't really encountered serious technical problems or strange glitches (which is not to say you won't find them, we just didn't), but that does not mean that everything is fine.
Passing has also undergone changes that we're not delighted with. Passes are now made for a colleague on almost every occasion, even if you're not necessarily pointing in their direction, whereas in the past there was a little more freedom in that regard. Of course, there are still manual controls, but we preferred the middle ground of previous games.
Graphics, atmosphere, and production values: With FIFA 17, EA Sports made the change to the Frostbite engine, allowing them to add cutscenes and greater visual detail. That was the promise anyway, but graphically it kinda looked the same. This year it's different. FIFA 18 has spectacular graphics, especially regarding lighting, animations, and detail. With support for HDR, FIFA 18 manages to look fantastic on a TV that supports the technology, which greatly benefits the new positioning of the sun in some stadiums. Playing at Leicester's King Power Stadium in late afternoon is a treat, especially in HDR.
FIFA 18 also includes many new cinematic sequences for before, during, and after matches. Many celebrations now result in cinematic sequences, such as the iconic celebrations of Cristiano Ronaldo, or celebrations with the crowd, with hugs between supporters and players. These sequences extend to Ultimate Team Mode and Career Mode, and of course, The Journey, but we'll get into the details in a bit.
Another new feature involves the environment in the stadiums, which is not only fantastic but also localised. The crowd is more detailed, now more alive thanks to new behaviors. If a player scores a goal, the closest supporters will run towards the edge, and if you play in Argentina, for instance, you will see several types of flags and effects that you won't see in the Premier League.
Add to that the excellent production values of FIFA 18. We are talking about a game that not only has excellent graphics, but also the biggest recreation of real-life elements we ever seen. Several stadiums, players, and coaches have been recreated individually, which adds even more authenticity to the game. Then there's the great soundtrack, a practical and appealing interface, and far too many other details to list here. But nothing shows the quality of FIFA 18 better than The Journey.
Continues in the next page.