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FIFA 18 Feels Like it Does a Much Better Job than Last Year’s Release

In the real world of football, even the best teams need to constantly strive for improvement in the hopes of staying at the top of their game. In the battle to be the best football game on the market, the same can be said about Konami and EA’s annual releases. Last year, while FIFA improved the overall presentation with a switch to the Frostbite engine and an added story mode in the form of “The Journey”, PES focused on the pitch, and those changes helped to make PES 2017 the most authentic game of football available. With PES 2018 focusing on refining its on the field experience further, can FIFA 18 do enough to draw level?

The most important aspect of any sports title is how accurately it replicates its real-life counterpart. Overall, FIFA 18 feels like it does a much better job than last year’s release; however, it does seem to be heading in a completely different direction than PES. In PES 2018, games often feel like a technical chess match where even 0-0 draws can still feel exciting, whereas FIFA 18’s matches excel in high scoring affairs, much like a match involving Newcastle United when Kevin Keegan was in charge. Both approaches are completely fine and have their pros and cons, but it will be down to the individual player to decide which one they prefer.

In terms of the on-field gameplay, FIFA 18 does have some small but still noticeable improvements over previous years. Last time around, it wasn’t uncommon to feel like you’d been dispossessed because players reacted too slowly and turning was laboured. Thankfully, FIFA 18 introduces a new animation system that makes everything from basic movement to shielding the ball, and intricate passing to dribbling, feel much more responsive and fluid.

Crossing has also been overhauled, making it a much more viable option compared to last year where it often seemed impossible to put the ball where you intended. This has been especially noticeable now that using players with pace works as it should. Previously, it was a source of bewilderment how much slower defenders could keep up and even overtake speedy wingers such as Gareth Bale and Anthony Martial. In FIFA 18, faster players will breeze past slower opponents, making through balls against high defensive lines seem much more realistic.

The improvements to attacking scenarios, player movement and dribbling makes defending in this year’s iteration of FIFA seem much harder to master than last year. The actual mechanics are still the same, but jockeying and timing tackles perfectly seems to be tougher now that the attacking player's control and movement are that much better. Series veterans will likely adjust quite quickly, but for newcomers, there’s a chance it will feel too unbalanced in the favour of the attacking team, especially against some of the game’s more skilful players such as Ronaldo and Messi. The shooting also feels overpowered to the point that it’s not uncommon to see multiple goal of the season contenders in every match.

The overall result of this year’s changes is positive, making FIFA 18 feel more immersive than any other release in the series previously. It’s still got some catching up to do to be on par with PES in terms of overall authenticity, but what FIFA does wonderfully well is constantly recreate those wow moments that make football the sport it is.

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