Gaming

Fifa 19 still the best in football simulation

Latest edition of this video game series includes Uefa Champions League, Europa League and Super Cup licences

Fifa 19 is the latest iteration of Electronic Arts' hugely successful Fifa football simulation video game series. The franchise has been around since 1993. It is no mean feat for any video game series to still be around after a quarter of a century.

As usual, each new version of Fifa comes with incremental improvements and Fifa 19 is no different.

The biggest news is the inclusion of Uefa Champions League (UCL), Europa League and Super Cup licences, which its arch-rival, the Pro Evolution Soccer (PES) franchise, has been bragging about for the past few years.

Considering the longevity of the Fifa series and its ability to get licences from almost all of the major leagues around the world, it is almost unbelievable that it did not have UCL until now.

But finally, when you play teams like Liverpool or Barcelona, you will get to play UCL matches during a season. And it comes complete with the iconic UCL anthem and pre-match presentation.

The Fifa series is famed for its game presentation and Fifa 19 continues to be superb in this aspect. It feels like watching a live match, thanks to its starting line-up graphics and scoreboard. You will also see the advertising boards showing the sponsors of the home club and different advertising with UCL sponsors during UCL matches.

The graphics are excellent. The players' faces, tattoos and jerseys are all faithfully reproduced, as are the stadiums and lighting effects during matches. Even the crowds have more personality and variety, with some fans taking selfies during matches.

  • SPECS

  • PRICE: From $79.90 (PC; PS4; Switch; Xbox One, version tested)

    GENRE: Football simulation

    RATING: 8/10

When you first power up the game, you will be treated to next year's predicted UCL final where Cristiano Ronaldo's Juventus take on Neymar's Paris Saint-Germain at Madrid's Wanda Metropolitano stadium.

You have to play this game, which serves as a tutorial for those new to the Fifa series and a refresher for those who have not been playing its predecessor, Fifa 18.

Unlike in the past where Kick Off just leads you straight to a match, there are now customised Kick Off rules. For example, you can set it to be a cup final or set rules like the first team that scores three goals wins the game.

In terms of gameplay, Fifa 19 adds several features to make it more realistic. You will find that your players no longer have a perfect first touch or the ball sticking to their feet like glue when dribbling. Ball control depends on the players' techniques, the speed of the ball, the pitch's wetness and whether you are being jostled.

While this might make the game harder, it does make it more natural. For instance, I found that I can actually deliver crosses into the box that my striker can finish, which is near-impossible in Fifa 18.

Another new feature in Fifa 19 is Timed Finishing. Double tapping the shoot button on any strike attempt will trigger a timed finish. The precision of the second tap will determine the result of the contact. Perfectly timed strikes are accurate, powerful and more likely to lead to goals, while poorly timed strikes mean missing scoring chances.

If you have been playing The Journey story mode - which started in Fifa 17 - in which you play Alex Hunter from when he is young to when he becomes a full-fledged footballer, you can look forward to doing the same here.

Fifa 19 continues the storyline, but you now have the option to play as his good friend Danny Williams or his sister Kim Hunter. You can stick to one character or switch among the three characters to see how the story goes.

There are other modes to play too. The Career mode, in which you play as a player or a manager, remains the same as the previous iteration. So is the Ultimate Team, where you create your own team, customise the kits, assemble your desired players and lead them to glory.

• Verdict: Despite having incremental improvements, Fifa 19 continues to serve up the best overall package in terms of football simulation.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 17, 2018, with the headline 'Fifa 19 still the best in football simulation'. Print Edition | Subscribe