E3 2018: Hands-on with FIFA 19 on Switch
Going into EA Play, there were hopes that more content would be coming to Switch, perhaps the latest EA Original, maybe a remastering or two. Whilst we knew FIFA 19 was coming, more content is always welcome and while we may have been let down, but the lack of anything, not FIFA, there is no denying FIFA 19 looks impressive on Switch.
I was lucky enough to play the game multiple times, once out in the public space, where the Switch version was running alongside dozens of PlayStation 4 versions and then again inside the Business Lounge, where media and industry were invited. It was funny and a little sad outside, as there were only 4 Switch units running the game and perhaps 30 PlayStation 4’s and there was at least always one Switch free at all times, whereas the PlayStation 4 version would always be occupied.
I feel though, that because of 18 and how barebones it was, people did not want to waste time on 19, thinking it was more of the same, but after playing it, I can say it is vastly improved. Clearly, the game looks better, think of it like Twilight Princess, the game looked fine on Gamecube, but looked better on Wii, FIFA 19 is that. The game’s characters look sharper and more defined, the grass looks more like the other platforms, than the blanket green it was in FIFA 18 and the presentation as a whole is improved, all combining to make FIFA 19 look like a new game.
Of course, how a game looks is secondary to how it plays and with FIFA 19, I could tell there was a vast improvement compared to last years effort. You must understand, I am not a sports game guy, but even I was able to tell how much better it was, not only did characters run smoother, but they interacted better with the ball and each other. Sliding into a player, whilst trying to get the ball, would result in a number of things happening and each time, they varied quite a lot, heck I was sliding into players for the fun of it a lot. Seeing another player trip over my legs as they extended forward, was fun, but sometimes the player would roll over, somethings they would stumble and then fall and other times, they would just jump, like my leg was a hurdle and each and every time, it felt real.
The replay camera was here, I am not sure if it was in FIFA 18, but it was smooth and easy to jump back into the action once you were done with it. The game presents the option, whenever you get a replay on the screen, you can let it play out as you want, or you can switch to a number of different camera angles, including a full control camera. Using that one, you can zoom in, rotate around and more, to see how everything looks from all possible angles, I did have a lot of fun with it. The game, build an early build, did not offer up the recording feature, but if it does, we could see some really fun and cool goals and saves coming soon.
Perhaps the biggest change from 18 to 19 is in how the game is presented, not only does it look better, but the game now sports proper tv style presentations, with each league getting their own to match their real-world counterparts. New commentary is also included, though a few lines did seem to repeat in this early build, overall it sounds better than last years did.
The second time I played, I was in air-conditioning and able to fully enjoy the game, thanks to there being no sunlight blocking the screen and whilst I thought I had only played for a few minutes, it turned out, I was able to get in a complete game, then extra time, due to the score being one all and then a kick-out, trying to get the score, in the end, I had cycled through all 11 players and came out on top. One part I loved here, was the Switch Joy-Con were vibrating when the opposing team went in for their kick, much like match point in Mario Tennis Aces, this was the games way of telling me, if they score, I lose, it helped to build the tension quite a lot and I liked it.
FIFA 19, is a massive step up from FIFA 18, how that pans out in the long run, I don’t know, but fans of the series, who own a Switch, will have a hard time deciding this year over the other versions. The game looks better, is packed with more options and modes, including Online Friendlies and there is still more to discover, so bring it on I say.