If it’s in the game, it’s in the game. These were the words that use to greet every long time FIFA gamer. While EA Sports (known as Electronic Arts at the time) no longer uses that slogan, it does not ring truer that it does in FIFA 19.
The latest football in the franchise does one thing exceptionally well, and that’s take care of licensing.
“These are the champions”
The biggest feather in EA Sports’ cap in this regard is the official addition of the Champions League. It’s now a fully licensed tournament in FIFA 19, and EA wants you to know that from the get go.
Once you’re all setup and logged in, FIFA 19 kicks off with a fictional Champions League final match between PSG and Juventus. It not only allows gamers to get a feel for the change sin gameplay, but also serves as a taster for the fully licensed look at what Champions League football in FIFA 19 is like.
To EA’s credit, it certainly delivers in that aspect, with the atmosphere, graphics and commentary all befitting a real world Champions League game.
It also serves to show just where EA’s focus is for FIFA 19, and it’s on delivering a fully licensed footballing experience.
This is why PES 2019, despite arguably delivering better gameplay, is still battling to lessen the gap on FIFA 19.
For any football fan, to play as your favourite team, in their official strip, with players that look like they do in real life, is ultimately the goal for any FIFA game.
As such, it’s exactly what you get in FIFA 19.
Expanding The Journey
With the licensing for FIFA 19 down pat, how does the rest of the game fare?
Well one aspect that EA has been actively working on is The Journey, which first got introduced to the franchise in FIFA 17. In this iteration the fictional player of Alex Hunter is joined by friend Danny Williams and half-sister Kim Hunter, each on their respective paths in the footballing world.
For gamers who aren’t keen on Ultimate Team it serves as a nice change of pace. That said it does not quite offer the same satisfying experience to playing the Career Mode for example, but shows that EA is able to add a different element to FIFA.
As for the aforementioned Ultimate Team and Career Mode, things are much the same as they were in FIFA 18.
To that end the menu layouts are virtually carbon copies of their predecessors, with options and buttons getting a slight bit of refinement, as well as a new colour scheme which seem designed to evoke the Champions League.
Consequently when it comes to navigating and interacting with FIFA 19 you know exactly what you’re going to get.
What is worth mentioning though is the pack openings in FUT, with EA Sports now adding percentage odds about what kinds of player cards they can receive. While this may seem like a bid at being more transparent by the developer, it clearly shows just how flawed a system the packs actually are, with the chances of receiving something rare or valuable slim at best.
As such, it serves as a reminder at just how much money gamers will be pouring into FIFA 19’s FUT in order to get those coveted packs and cards.
Our personal inclination, as it has long been with FUT, is to shy away from paying for packs altogether, as micro transactions can quickly add up to macro ones.
Speed does not kill
So how about the actual gameplay?
Here too, the overall feeling is familiar, with one notable change.
Speed is no longer the one statistic that sets players apart as it was in previous versions of FIFA. Yes, if you’re playing with a particularly fast player, you can get past one or two defenders, but tear away speed is no longer a thing in FIFA 19.
As such defenders can catch you up quite quickly, which means you need a telling pass, clinical finish and skilful dribbling in order to effect the outcome of a game.
Personally we prefer the way that speed was setup previously, but this change does help to level the playing field as it were, so you’ll have to rely on other elements of your game to win matches.
Another nice addition is the ability to switch between different tactical setups on the fly, pressing the left or right directional button (on the DualShock 4 controller) to cycle between defensive to ultra-attacking systems.
While this helps when you want to change the tempo of your gameplay, we advise taking a look at which players feature where in the system, as you can sometimes finding attackers moving into otherwise problematic positions on the field.
There’s nothing particularly new or noteworthy about FIFA 19, which isn’t a necessarily bad thing. You know precisely what you’re going to get.
Yes, PES probably handles things on the virtual pitch better, but the all-encompassing licensing of FIFA 19 makes it the ideal companion for this 2019/2020 footballing season.
Add to this a gaming experience that’s easy to pick up and play, along with a few more tactical elements for long-time players of the franchise to try out, and FIFA 19 does what’s advertised on the box.
Does FIFA 19 make sure if it’s in the game, it’s in the game? Yes indeed it does.