First Look

More upgrades, with realism factor up a notch in Fifa 18

In Fifa 18, the developers have recorded the unique movement styles of top players such as Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo, adding much more realism to the game.
In Fifa 18, the developers have recorded the unique movement styles of top players such as Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo, adding much more realism to the game.PHOTO: ELECTRONIC ARTS

Every year brings a new Fifa football game. And with every version comes improvements.

Electronic Arts' Fifa 18, which will be available on Sept 29, is no exception. From our time with its demo version, it has taken a step forward in gameplay and realism.

The demo lets you play in Kickoff mode, which is a quick way to start playing. Choose your team from 13 football clubs - including Manchester United, Manchester City, Real Madrid, Juventus, Bayern Munich and Paris Saint-Germain - as well as your opponents, and you are ready to play.

There are four stadiums that you can play in in this demo, from Real Madrid's Santiago Bernabeu to LA Galaxy's StubHub Center.

When I played the demo on PlayStation 4, the graphics looked gorgeous, from the textures of the faces and jerseys of players to the realistically rendered stadiums.

Adding to the realism are lighting effects, such as the setting sun casting shadows and a yellow hue in the stadium.

The crowd also feels more authentic. For example, some fans will rush forward to greet a celebrating player who had just scored a goal. The spectators are more varied and energetic too, unlike the more static ones in the past.

Players' motions look more realistic than in any previous versions. The developers have recorded the unique movement styles of some of the world's top players like Cristiano Ronaldo and Neymar Jr.

So when you play as Real Madrid and you pass the ball to Ronaldo, you will immediately recognise his style of movement, dribbling and the way he strikes the ball. This adds much more realism to the game.

Unlike the usually inefficient crosses of past versions, crosses now are more varied. You can curl a cross into the penalty box for a player to nod home, instead of crossing straight most of the time as in past versions.

On the downside, I found that the ball seems to move much slower than before. As a result, through balls to my speedy strikers always have the opposing defender intercepting the ball.

Another quirk is the quick-substitutions feature that does not allow me to choose who I can substitute. For that, you still need to pause the game and go to the line-up to do it manually.

It would have been good if the game recognises that I am losing, and provides a quick-substitution option of replacing a defender with a striker on the bench.

The demo includes a sneak peek at the story campaign The Journey: Hunter Returns. The main character Alex Hunter is back with an eye on a transfer.

Fifa 18 will be available in PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC and Nintendo Switch on Sept 29. But you can get an early hands-on with the Fifa 18 as well as Sony's upcoming racing simulator Gran Turismo Sport and other games at the Sony PlayStation Play Everything roadshow. It starts tomorrow at Suntec City from 11am to 8pm daily and ends on Sunday. Admission is free.

Sony will also be attempting to create a "Biggest video game controller formation made of video game controllers" record in the Singapore Book Of Records. The record attempt will take place on Sunday from 1pm to 4pm.

The formation is estimated to be 5m by 3m, using 650 PlayStation controllers provided by PlayStation fans in Singapore. The first 50 participants with their own controllers will receive a limited-edition PS4 cushion, while all the other participants will get a pair of movie vouchers.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 20, 2017, with the headline 'More upgrades, with realism factor up a notch in Fifa 18'. Subscribe