After a three-year hiatus, FIFA is back on a Nintendo platform with its latest iteration, FIFA 18. As it was previously mentioned, many months ago, the Switch version of this game isn’t exactly the same as the Playstation 4, PC, and Xbox One versions, which was, understandably, quite a disappointment. But it was reasonable at the same time, given the Switch’s lack of power and smaller development time. The main question is: does this version hold up regardless? Is it still fun to play?
Yes, this isn’t the best version of FIFA 18. In truth, it may even be the ugliest version and the one with the least amount of content, given the absence of the Journey mode (a pretty nice addition last year). The graphics are a mixed bag. On one hand, the game runs smoothly at 60 frames per second both on docked and portable mode, and even runs at 1080p when docked. It also features decent lighting, well-designed stadiums and great jersey detail. On the other hand, the characters are very ugly. The level of detail in the facial animations is comparable to the earliest versions of FIFA for the Xbox 360. The animation is also not ideal, something you can clearly see on replays and goal scoring celebrations. For this reason, I suggest sticking solely to portable mode. Don’t get me wrong, it does its job pretty well for a portable title, but I can’t help but feel a bit disappointed by the sheer disparity between versions.
Gameplay-wise, there were a few changes from last year’s FIFA 17. The game is slower than last year’s already slower gameplay, and, honestly, that’s a good thing. Previous iterations of FIFA relied too much on using extremely fast wingers, reaching the end of the opponent’s field of play and crossing the ball to the head of a 6 foot tall striker. Not that this isn’t still efficient this time around, but the slower gameplay allows for players to think a bit more on their set pieces. Dribbling is easier this time around, first touch has been improved, going full offensive with through passes is as useful as ever.
Even though FIFA 18 is easier to play than, say, FIFA 17, it doesn’t mean that the gameplay is perfect. EA has decided to keep some asinine gameplay elements from previous iterations, such as the insanely obnoxious penalty kick gameplay, something which should have been as easy and straightforward to perform as the kick itself. It isn’t. It’s the opposite.
The rest is what you’ve already seen in previous FIFA games, with the exception of not having the Journey mode. The soundtrack still follows the same “Lollapalooza-friendly” style as most recent iterations, with artists such as Lorde and The National. While I do miss the more eclectic days of FIFA 04 or 06, in which there was everything from nu-metal to samba, I can’t complain about the overall soundtrack, the bands are decent.
Most modes are also intact. Career is still, by far, the most entertaining mode, mixing the core gameplay with a (very) simplified Football Manager interface. Women’s football is back with a few more teams. Ultimate Team is still the same entertaining but riddled with obnoxious microtransactions mode. All in all, it’s all there, and it’s decent enough. It’s a mostly complete console FIFA, but on-the-go.
FIFA 18 for the Switch is not exactly phenomenal but it’s far from being a bad port. Sure, the visuals aren’t exactly ideal for a current-gen console, even if the Switch isn’t exactly a powerhouse, and it lacks a few modes and features, but I can’t deny it’s great to, once again, have an on-the-go FIFA title on a portable system.
If the Playstation 4 and Xbox One versions are a Barcelona, this Switch version is like a Huddersfield Town: smaller, doesn’t have that many resources, weaker, but it’s competent enough and it’s trying to prove itself amidst the elite competition.
Also available on: PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, Xbox One, PC