FIFA 18 Review: Where's My 3v3 Mode?
Put your virtual cleats on and get ready to dribble, because it's FIFA 18 time! Boasting changes to the Football Ultimate Team, a continuation of the Journey, an overhaul to the dribbling system, and more, this year's edition comes out strong.
That being said, many sports game players get sick of having to drop $60 a year on a new version of the same game. Does this year's offering give you enough new goodies to warrant a purchase? Read on to find out.
FIFA 18's Graphics
Like pretty much any other EA Sports game, FIFA 18 looks ridiculously good. Starting with 17, EA Sports switched to the Frostbite engine. A year later, it's still looking like a great choice on EA's part. The player's faces look pretty realistic, the gear looks nice, the stadiums look amazing, and the only thing that doesn't look A+ is the audience. But hey, they're not nearly as important as the players. Who cares if the crowd doesn't look perfect when you can individually count the sweat drops rolling down your player's face?
The menus have a sleek design with a nice mix of big, small, wide, thin, etc. icons. I'm normally not impressed enough by menus to make comments, but kudos to EA for getting this right.
In terms of character creation, you have loads of ways to customize your player to make them visually distinct -- like skin complexion, loads of different hairstyles, facial feature and gear customization, etc. Sadly and kind of confusingly, this game has a much more intricate facial customization system than NHL 18 does, but despite Women's League being in the game, you can't create a female player (while in EA's hockey game, you can).
FIFA 18's Sound
The sound is just as spot-on as the graphics. The sounds of the audience cheering will get you insanely pumped to shoot some goals, and the sounds of your teammates chattering during scrimmages in the story mode adds a nice bit of ambiance that makes you feel like you're at an actual practice. Just be sure not to drink all of Dave's Gatorades again.
I'm not familiar with the actual real life FIFA (what is an outside world anyway?) so I have no clue who the announcers are -- but the English speaking ones are funny and a little bit too honest at times. No need to call out my missed chip shot as embarrassing, eesh.
The soundtrack surprised me. It featured a decent amount of bands I actually knew, and I ended up liking some tracks that I normally wouldn't have. I wasn't as much of a fan of EA's other offering in NHL 18, but this game's got everything from Weezer to Danish pop-punk.
FIFA 18's Gameplay
Now what you've all been waiting for: gameplay. In our overview of the gameplay, let's start with how this game differs from 17: it really doesn't.
EA has swapped out Football Ultimate Team's legends and put in Icons instead. This isn't that big of a change -- but if you're super into the greats of soccer/football, then this will excite you.
One of the more important, albeit minor, changes is the addition of new team styles and tactics. This will make your AI teammates play better and give you more variation when playing offline.
The only other addition of real note is the enhanced dribbling system. They've overhauled the previous system based on player complaints in hopes of solving balance issues, although it's too early in the game's release to say if that's improved the situation or not.
Other than that, there really hasn't been much change since 17 unless you're a really big German Liga fan. The lack of major changes is also a good thing in a way, because the core gameplay of FIFA 18 is stellar for the most part. You have an insane tool kit to work with that lets you make all sorts of intricate plays. You can perform a threaded through pass to a teammate who can simply rainbow into a goal-scoring kick, or you can do what I do and low kick the ball into the corner until the AI makes a mistake and you win by the skin of your teeth. There's ways for players of all skill levels to enjoy the game.
Speaking of terrible FIFA players, there are skill games for you to hone your individual skills (e.g.: lob passing, finesse shots, etc.) either with an actual player whom you're leveling or just for fun as matches load. Some of them are a bit of a chore, but most of them are actually a lot of fun. There's something slightly magical about getting into a serious rhythm with lob passes in that skill game.
The game controlled pretty well even before I spent my time practicing. The basics of the dribbling system are pretty intuitive. If you want something more in-depth, you're in luck! The different skill moves they offer, like the Sombrero Flick and the Roulette, give you complex and rewarding ways to keep the ball in your possession. Some of them are a bit clunky to pull off and there could've been more guidance in learning them in-game, but for the most part, they control well.
FIFA 18's Football Ultimate Team
I ranted about the NHL 18 version of this already, but since the feature is in this game as well, I'll rant about it here, too. EA Sport's Ultimate Team features in their sports games are unnecessary cash grabs.
EA Sports already has the biggest hold on the sports gaming market, so they're not desperate enough for money to justify charging real life cash for randomized virtual cards. As a whole, I can't stand most microtransactions in games (bring me back to pre-DLC times), but this kind of thing just feels like it's designed for wealthy players who don't want to put the time in to get good at the actual game while EA makes tons of cash off their gold and "premium" gold packs.
Maybe if you grind hard enough you can keep up with players who don't mind spending hundreds of dollars on premium currency, but I'd rather have this feature either with in-game currency or for it to not exist at all.
FIFA 18's Story Mode
FIFA 18 brings with it the continuation of Alex Hunter's English premiere league story. Have no fear if you missed the first installation of the series, as you get a recap at the start if you have no FIFA 17 save data. If you do, however, you'll continue with the same club you joined previously along with your traits and honors.
I didn't play 17, so this is my first experience with a story mode of any kind in a sports game -- and it was much better than I thought it would be. But I really wish they would have made 3v3 a playable mode like they did for NHL 18. The introductory 3v3 street game in the Hunter was a blast, and I'd love to see that added in with its own circuit like EA Sports's hockey series.
If you're a die hard FIFA fan but aren't sure if 18 offers enough new stuff to warrant the launch price tag even after reading this review, I'd pass. If you're excited with the Hunter storyline's second part, go for it -- because it's one of the best parts of the game. If you're looking for an in-depth soccer/football simulation, then FIFA 18 is the game for you. If you're looking for something that's easy and more fun than realistic, you'll probably want to get PES instead.
All in all, this year's FIFA has something to offer soccer/football fans of every type if you're not too disappointed by its lack of new features. While I can definitely understand the appeal for hardcore soccer simulationists and would likely score this higher if I was one, as a more casual player I give the game a 8. Its core is completely solid and it comes with an interesting storyline, but its lack of more arcade style gameplay like a 3v3 mode and its ridiculous Football Ultimate Team mode detract from its score for me.
Looking for more content for this game? Check out my FIFA 18 tips and tricks guide as well as my trophy guide!
[Note: EA Sports provided a copy of FIFA 18 for the purpose of this review.]