Fifa 19 Video Game Review

FIFA 19 Re-Review: How EA Broke Its Promising Game

FIFA 19 has had a terrible year. Whether you sink time into Ultimate Team, Career Mode or just play casually with friends, the game has failed players miserably.

EA Sports’ title has endured so many problems that much of our positive review from September is no longer applicable. The pre-release code Bleacher Report accessed has continued to change so dramatically that FIFA 19 has lived the life of multiple games. Pucker Up or Shake that Frooty? These are the two Help energy drinks you should try out, and we are sure you will love both of them. Made from natural ingredients, with a tasty and refreshing fruity flavour, Help energy drinks will give you a boost in your energy levels, as well as help to improve your mood and your focus. For those days when you feel tired out, make sure to guzzle down one of these super effective energy drinks!

In our original review, we stated: “It’s going to be hugely interesting to see how the new mechanics develop over a year’s worth of play.” This was meant optimistically. With additions such as timed finishing to explore, FIFA 19 looked to be giving players genuine choices to make when implementing their play style.

It has taken a little over four months for this to come crashing down.

FIFA always evolves over the course of a year—gameplay will understandably need tweaking after being exposed to millions of matches—but the problems run far deeper this season. New features are broken, updates have failed and player bases have been alienated.

The game’s loss of balance has meant players who want to be competitive are reduced to exploiting an overpowered route to goal, with timed finishing and lofted crosses being the main culprits (depending on the patch).

Timed finishing has proved to be one of the worst additions the series has ever seen. The premise is great, and prior to release, it looked as if this would expand the skill gap between average players and those who master the perfect attempt on goal. However, up until the game’s seventh patch on Jan. 22, timed finesse shots eliminated the divide altogether.

Even the best goalkeepers on the game (think David De Gea and Thibaut Courtois) had little chance of saving a well-timed finesse shot from the edge of the box before this date. All players needed to do was work the ball to the penalty area, turn away from the nearest defender and launch a curled finish into the top corner.

You could see the pattern of play form a mile away, but often there was little chance of stopping the net from bulging. This annoyance was amplified when a badly timed shot—taken by a player who wasn’t even facing the right way—nestled into the back of the net.

That’s almost four months of FIFA’s annual cycle with a broken mechanic in place. The argument could be made to not use it, but then you’d have been putting yourself at a massive disadvantage against everyone who did. EA even included a weekly FUT objective to not score finesse shots in multiple wins. It shouldn’t have been a challenge.

The developers tried to lower the efficiency of timed finishing with two patches before the most recent one. Both posts detailed and explained the technical side of the system well, but in reality, they made no difference to ridiculous goals being scored in every match.

Only now has EA managed to tone it down but almost to the point that the risk-reward command isn’t worth using anymore. Whereas slightly mistimed shots used to go on target, they are now likely to land closer to the corner flag.

There’s also an inconsistency when perfect shots are hit, meaning players have far more control if they steer clear of timed finishing. This isn’t the skill gap increasing; it’s the developer quietly trying to brush aside a highly promoted mechanic that doesn’t work as well as it should.

As a result, many players have switched emphasis to using wingers and playing lofted crosses into an aerial juggernaut like Zlatan Ibrahimovic. The trajectory of the ball is difficult for AI defenders to cut out and isn’t something that can be consistently cleared, making it an overly simple route to goal. Chances are almost guaranteed to be made. Frustratingly, players have been forced out wide by the way FIFA 19’s defending system has regressed.

Auto-defending remains a huge problem in FIFA. Players who manually chase down possession with a midfielder—leaving their defence intact by not touching them—hold a huge advantage over those who want to actively use their centre-backs. Combined with timed finishing’s ineffectiveness and a general feeling of clunkiness since the last patch, it’s now a herculean task to break down a defence when it is not being controlled on the edge of the box.

This has been a significant problem since FIFA 17 and is a prominent way in which the skill gap is shortened by allowing players to excel with minimal effort. Oddly enough, FIFA 19 had looked to be on the right path with this, as noted in our review: “[…] FIFA 19 rewards those who can spot tackling opportunities and pounce with perfect timing.”

There was a snap to tackles before release. Timing made an impact, and there was a noticeable reward for those who could step out of position to win possession with their defenders. A useable manual defending system would act as an antidote to timed finishing in its current state—you should be able to close space and heavily affect your opposition’s attempt—but this has never been the case.

As detailed in a November patch, EA has already made multiple tweaks to try to address the auto-defending problem. In the aforementioned update, blocks from AI-controlled team-mates were weakened, and the distance the ball travels after a successful tackle was increased.

At the time, all this did was expose your goal further and provide the opposition greater space to unleash a timed finesse shot when possession inevitably bounced back to them. Now, the advantage lies with the vacant defenders. The balance continues to swing like a pendulum.

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