FIFA 19 Review

Richard Walker

It's remarkably easy for a sports game series to rest on its laurels. For a fair few years in the late 90s/early 2000s, EA did it with FIFA, allowing Konami and Pro Evolution Soccer to rule the roost, at least from a critical standpoint. Times have changed, however, and FIFA has been getting steadily better and better with each new iteration. FIFA 19 is undoubtedly the pinnacle of what EA Sports has achieved with its titanic football franchise to date, making refinements across the board and injecting some fresh ideas into the well-worn formula.

Kick-Off mode is where you'll find most of the new stuff, standard exhibition matches joined by a whole host of fresh modes, custom rules and game types. Superficially, these don't sound like that big a deal, but they present you with a bunch of different ways to play FIFA 19, like Survival, wherein scoring a goal means losing a player from your team. You can even play old playground favourites like Headers & Volleys, first to a certain number of goals, or enjoy a match with no rules at all, like Adidas Red Card Soccer (remember that?). Anything goes.

While Kick-Off brilliantly covers all the bases for party games with friends, keeping a constant tally of your match-ups, FIFA Ultimate Team and the comprehensive (and largely unchanged) manager or player Career Mode offer their own long-term footie thrills, while The Journey: Champions marks an end to the story of Alex Hunter and co. with Danny Williams and Alex's half-sister Kim in tow once more. While Alex is enjoying a glamorous life at the top, with his pick of top-flight European clubs (well, PSG Bayern Munich or Atletico Madrid), Danny continues to work hard in the Premier League, earning a move to any Prem club of his choice, and Kim is fighting for a place on the US Women's National Team.

This year, The Journey is the most polished it's been, although it unfolds in much the same manner – it does, however, open in a novel way that could almost be a bonus mode in itself. As ever, for the most part you'll go through the rigours of training again and again, before showing what you can do in match play, earning new customisation options for each character while progressing the dramatic narrative. Dialogue choices determine the sort of player you're perceived as off the pitch, and all of the key decisions you made during FIFA 18's The Journey will also make an impact at certain junctures. All of that said, it does feel like The Journey has now run its course.

FIFA Ultimate Team is also back with a vengeance, boasting the return of Squad Battles, Squad Building Challenges, the FUT Draft, FUT Champions, Team of the Week challenges, brand new Division Rivals, and a plethora of objectives to help you earn a nice cache of FUT coins and bonus packs to get your team up and running. FUT remains FIFA 19's biggest draw as one of the most involving and enjoyable aspects in the series, assembling the best squad you possibly and enhancing their chemistry proving endlessly compulsive.

EA nabbing the UEFA Champions League is the icing on the cake when it comes to content and licenses, FIFA 19 feeling even more definitive a football game than it did before, with a suite of modes (and an intro that almost feels like gloating) built around the big event. But it's on the pitch that FIFA 19 has got it where it really counts. From the moment you first kick a ball, it's evident that this year's game has come on leaps and bounds; a far more fluid, fast-paced, fun and immediate game of football, EA Vancouver has most definitely been listening.

While last year's effort upped the ante for the series, FIFA 19 builds upon those solid foundations, placing a greater emphasis on timing and nuance, positioning and reading your opponent, and as such, it's infused with the same kind of ebb and flow as a real game of football. There are also helpful (and thankfully optional) UI training guides and gauges to help you get to grips with shooting, heading and correct timing, while Dynamic Tactics add a nice layer of strategy that can be adjusted on-the-fly. Team AI is pretty smart too, making good runs into space and generally proving useful overall, but your opposition seems hugely reluctant to ever want to concede a foul. Free kicks and penalties are an all-too rare occurrence, unless you're the one conceding them.

This is one of very few niggles in FIFA 19, which includes the game losing your control preferences every time you start a match in a new mode (for me this happened frequently, anyway). And although the game has undergone an improvement visually, you'll still find a few iffy likenesses for some of the less renowned players. But the match day atmosphere is still second to none, with better close-up crowd shots lending even greater authenticity to proceedings and the commentary (which includes a separate commentary team for the UEFA Champions League) continues to make PES look a bit silly by comparison.

With its surfeit of modes, both offline and online, including the official Women's National teams, Tournaments, Pro Clubs, Seasons, and the expanded number of options for Kick-Off, EA has pulled out all of the stops for FIFA this year. Consider how much value The Journey, FIFA Ultimate Team and the addition of the UEFA Champions League brings to the table too, in what is quite possibly the best football game in some time (let alone the best FIFA), and FIFA 19 is a prospect that's almost impossible to ignore.


While Kick-Off's party games in particular are a highlight, FIFA 19 improves upon last year's outing in almost every department. One of the best football games around, FIFA 19 delivers the most fluid and fun entry yet, and is the kick up the backside the series needed. Back of the net.

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Tunes from a bunch of artists I've never heard of, but then I'm an old man who isn't down with the kids. The atmosphere in the stadium is electrifying and the commentary is still exemplary.


Again, the Frostbite engine does a fine job in ensuring FIFA 19 looks stunning and completely authentic. It's not perfect, but it's the best-looking FIFA to date by a country mile.


Simply put, FIFA 19 makes EA's footie series feel fun again, with speedy, accessible football that's not lacking in depth. There are minor AI issues that could do with ironing out, but none of these niggles conspire to ruin the enjoyment of the beautiful game.


Still putting its rival to shame in terms of polish, attention to detail and its comprehensive suite of modes, FIFA 19 has more than enough to keep you playing throughout the year. Ultimate Team is still a bit heavy on the MTX, but at least you can earn plenty of FUT Coins and free packs by completing objectives.


Another new list that's weighted towards Ultimate Team, The Journey and the new Kick-Off match types, FIFA 19's achievements are none too shabby. Decent.

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