FIFA 18, on a Nintendo? Must be crap, then. Or at least that’s what I thought when EA announced its “unprecedented” support for the Nintendo Switch earlier this year. I have to say, I personally called the game out as being dump before I’d even laid my eyes on it. Now here I sit, Switch to my left after having had another go on FUT (FIFA Ultimate Team) and I’m still marvelled by just how damn good it is!
Let’s start with the basics. You’re getting a fully featured FIFA game that runs at 1080p, 60fps when docked, and native 720p, 60fps when in handheld mode. This is the real deal, folks, and EA didn’t cheap out by cutting the performance, as it did with the PS Vita FIFA releases. No, you’re getting a comparable gameplay experience to what you’d find on the other consoles. What you aren’t getting is a like-for-like visual treat, unfortunately, and there is the glaring omission of the new story mode, The Journey.
I can look past all of that, though, because I can take FIFA 18 to work with me, damn it! Can I lug my Xbox One and PS4 to my work? Sure, but that’s a massive hassle. With FIFA 18 on Nintendo Switch, you’re getting the best of both worlds.
The gameplay is the real key to any FIFA release and, thankfully, I’m happy to say that FIFA 18 on Switch is actually really, really good. Like, comparable to FIFA 17 kind of good. It’s not running on the latest engine that powers FIFA 18 on PS4/Xbox One, but it plays really well and, were I not a more informed fellow, you could put the game on the TV and tell me it was running on PS4/Xbox One and I’d believe you. Until the cutscenes, that is…
In motion, FIFA 18 looks perfectly fine. There are some details that have gotten lost between this version and the others, but for the most part you’re looking at a FIFA game that looks and plays just how you’d imagine it to. Looking down at the little digital dudes on the pitch is crazy when it’s in your hands, but it holds up just as well on the TV, too. What doesn’t compare are the player animations and graphics during the close-up moments. So when a player is being subbed off the pitch, or when they players all march out at the start of the game – it looks a little rough and players seem a little rigid, but in the grand scheme of things, it’s not that big of a deal. I tend to mash the buttons to skip these moments anyway.
Now, onto the controls. We’re lacking the finesse of squeezable triggers, but aside from that it’s all intact. No matter how you decide to play – Joy Cons attached in portable, Joy Cons detached docked, or with a Pro Controller – it’s all the same. The controls translate very well from the other editions, with B being your pass, A being shoot, and so on and so forth. I did have a little bit of trouble adjusting, though, as I typically play FIFA on Xbox One, where A is pass and B is shoot, but after a while I was able to get my brain in order.
Most of my time with FIFA 18 on Switch was spent with the Career Mode – something I’m still dipping into on my daily travel to work, as well as during work (naughty!). The Career Mode is as you’d expect it to be; you choose your role (manager or player) and join a club and take them through the seasons, collecting as much silverware as you can. Unfortunately the Switch’s Career Mode is lacking behind the latest editions on other consoles, what with their fancy new cutscenes where you can negotiate with the manager and what not. It’s still decent in its own right, though, but it’s a shame knowing that there could have been a little more. Perhaps next year?
You’ve also got the full online suite for multiplayer and FIFA Ultimate Team. I’m not the biggest fan of FUT, but I’ve given it a go for the sake of this review and it works. Everything you’d expect from FUT is there and I can see die-hard FUT nuts spending many an hour tweaking away at their teams.
FUT basically gives you a set of players to get started with and it’s your challenge to create the best team possible to win whatever silverware you want to chase. You gain new players by spending in-game currency to open packs that contain players, staff, and consumables. For the uninitiated, it can be a daunting prospect, but the game does a fairly good job at explaining the different mechanics. Personally, I’m not one for gambling on loot boxes or player packs, so the allure of FUT for me is not all that. I prefer to choose a really crappy team from the lowest English division (Accrington Stanley for life, bruv’) and guide them through the leagues by spending wisely and investing in the Youth Squad. Hey, it’s more fun and there’s no pushing for real-world money. Win-win.
Given the Switch’s portable nature, it makes sense that there are mini-games of sorts for when you’re looking for a quick fix of FIFA on the go. FIFA 18 on Switch comes with Skill Games. These are basically a collection of those little challenges you play while a match loads up. They’re pretty good, too, and serve as decent training tools to get you familiar with the controls and mechanics of the game. There are also leaderboards to compare with friends, which is a nice touch.
All in all, I can’t say I’m not impressed with FIFA 18 on the Nintendo Switch. Amazingly, it just works, and it’ll be keeping me company for a good while to come. Let’s just hope EA continues with this “unprecedented” support by making some improvements with next year’s edition.
FIFA 18 Switch Review
FIFA 18 is a little flawed, sure, but what it does right more than makes up for any and all shortcomings. It’s a full FIFA you can take anywhere. Need I say anything else?
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