FIFA 19 (PlayStation 4) Review

By Justin Prinsloo 02.01.2019 2

Review for FIFA 19 on PlayStation 4

Ask any FIFA player about their relationship with the franchise and you'll be in for a tale about one of gaming's most painful love-hate affairs. The script will always be the same: each year, EA releases what might as well belittle more than a changed menu colour palette, a minor graphical face lift, and an updated player database... But, and here's the masochistic twist, players keep buying the latest iteration of the football-sim. Why?!

FIFA 19 has thus far received positive reviews from major critics for its clean and methodical approach to football simulation. Conduct a quick bit of cyber-sleuthing, though, and you'll be met with a barrage of disdain from actual FIFA players, with most criticisms being vast in number and quite detailed. For that reason, and because this has already been widely reviewed, this look on FIFA 19 for the PlayStation 4 will be more of a retrospective that delves into how the latest entry stacks up against its predecessors - and whether its repetitive formula is sustainable.

Until very recently, FIFA 19's AI defending was woefully unbalanced. Even on lower difficulties it was an unrealistic chore to break the AI's defensive line, while attacking AI would mercilessly slice through player-controlled defence like a hot knife through butter. This has been a major quibble amongst players since its release, and EA has clearly taken notice, because a patch nerfing AI defending was released recently on 27th November 2018. This patch made a few other changes, such as balancing stamina drain when using defensive settings, and, according to some, even increasing the overall speed of play.

Screenshot for FIFA 19 on PlayStation 4

One of the game's biggest gameplay issues has still not been addressed, however: finesse shots are grossly overpowered. Regardless of individual shooting stats, it's an elementary matter to curl a shot into the top corner, which negates the need for real skill in many situations. Dribbling is also unstable, although this swings in the opposite direction; skill moves amount to nothing more than a cute flourish before the wall-like physicality of an onrushing defender causes an overturn in possession.How one of the medium's longest running franchises has still failed to achieve a believable feel (particularly because its main competitor PES has) is a matter of some concern.

Further fuelling the fire, FIFA 19 seems in many ways to be shoddier than previous instalments. Some of the only noteworthy changes made to gameplay, such as the new active touch system which serves to make player animations more fluid and realistic when controlling the ball, instead render the gameplay unpredictable: sometimes attacking players wriggle out of defensive claws in superhuman fashion, while at other times in the same situation the ball seems to gravitate to defending feet with a mind of its own.

Screenshot for FIFA 19 on PlayStation 4

Gameplay issues aside, there is also the problem of the overall user experience feeling dumbed-down. The menus in particular, which still run virtually the same theme as FIFA 14, have become garish rather than intuitive, and the arcade-like approach to kick-off modes, while admittedly fun in couch two-player, detract from the baseline sophistication required from a simulator. Really, these modes are a band-aid over a bullet hole, showing a clear favouring of hollow entertainment rather than sorely needed innovation.

FIFA 19 attempts to make individual play styles more customisable, with set tactics for defence and attack aiding the player in adopting an approach that in an ideal world might give them the edge on the fly. This is one of the few new features and so it's somewhat more forgivable that its execution on the pitch is flawed. Some of the gameplay imbalances that these tactics cause have been patched out, but it will perhaps need an overhaul to be truly effective. As for the career mode, there has been no discernible effort made to improve the experience - and there is not much to say that hasn't already been said about the past three entries in the series.

Screenshot for FIFA 19 on PlayStation 4

'The Journey: Champions' seems to be where the majority of the development team's effort went, and it's an enjoyable enough experience, although it does become repetitive quickly. The only likely factor that may see you complete it will be how invested you are in the storyline (which plods along familiar beats to a passably acceptable tune). Even the incorporation of the Champions League thanks to the newly acquired branding rights is somewhat muffled: the commentating is slack and uniform, and the spectacle quickly becomes dull.

This is forgivable due to the limited time the development team had to incorporate the experience into this title, and is hopefully on the game director's list of improvements for next year. There is, however, a rapidly escalating crescendo of doubt surrounding this franchise. Fans are losing patience with EA, and certainly not for the first time in the company's history. It must be said, though, that when dissatisfaction has reached a crescendo with past games released by the corporate giant, something has been done to stave off criticism. Battlefront II's micro-transaction saga is testament to that fact. Hopefully, FIFA will be next in line for refurbishment.

Screenshot for FIFA 19 on PlayStation 4

Cubed3 Rating

5/10
Rated 5 out of 10

Average

With initial excitement having died down a few months after the game's release, FIFA 19 stands exposed for what it is: another recycled iteration of a franchise that sorely needs refreshing. Both off the pitch and on it, FIFA 19 is a hollow experience, yet another broken promise and a slap in the face of what we have come to expect from good game development. To truly compete in the gaming arena, FIFA must lace its boots and pull up its socks if it is to achieve what it too lazily sets out to each year.

Developer

EA Sports

Publisher

EA Sports

Genre

Sport

Players

4

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  5/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date None   

Comments

Yes yes yes. It's about time FIFA was put to task. 

I bought FIFA 19, but that was the first time I'd shelled out for it in five or six years. Through my teenage and university years it was a day-one purchase without fail. How foolish. Unfortunately gamers rarely vote with their wallet. 

On the other hand, I've tried desperately to get onboard with PES, having loved that series since I was a kid, but they don't offer a great alternative. Losing the Champions League license with the last edition was depressing, but in so many areas, particularly online, it's lackluster. 

The solution? Football Manager. Fine, it's iterative too, but all that amazing scouting research of the lower leagues and such - that's actual hard work going in every year. It's not laziness. Smilie

( Edited 24.01.2019 15:57 by The Strat Man )

Tom Barry [ Reviewer - Editor - Resident Sim-Racer @ Cubed3.com ]
RufDog Racing: Team Cubed3 | Current C3 Sim-Spotlight Feature | Follow RDR on Twitter |     

Well said @The Strat Man! I've been buying FIFA each year for a while but this year may be the first time I abstain, out of protest. I likewise struggle with PES, it's fantastic on the pitch but a bit bare everywhere else. 

I've yet to try Football Manager but have heard only good things, looks real solid! 

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