A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that FIFA 18 is a soccer simulation. There's no inappropriate content, although gamers can chat freely (even with strangers) when playing against other human players online, which might result in hearing profanity or other inappropriate comments. Players will be exposed to lots of corporate logos on players and in stadiums during matches, and can spend real-world money and in-game currency earned during play to purchase athletes for their teams.
What's it about?
FIFA 18 is a soccer ("football") simulation that lets fans of the game play as their favorite players and teams, across multiple leagues, in authentic reproductions of familiar arenas around the globe. Along with multiple solo and multiplayer modes to partake in, EA Sports claims this year's game marks the biggest evolutionary step in gameplay innovation in franchise history, with features like "Real Player Motion Technology," a completely revamped animation system that mirrors the real-life stars these players are based upon, such as superstar Cristiano Ronaldo (and his signature sprint). FIFA 18 is powered by EA's Frostbite engine, which results in rear photorealistic player models, animation, and atmospheric environments that might just cause you to do a double-take while walking in front of the TV or PC. The game also delivers a more fleshed-out narrative mode, where we follow Alex Hunter in The Journey, or you can partake in Career mode, Ultimate Team, quick games, and other modes to dig your cleats into. Other new gameplay features include a half-dozen new character movement types (each with differentiating styles on the pitch), new dribbling moves and mechanics, contextual on-ball touches that vary based on the situation, the ability to change direction with ease, and true-to-life team styles attributed to several real-world teams, once again making it feel like you're controlling and watching real players.
Is it any good?
This year's soccer game from EA Sports improves on virtually every aspect of the world's most popular game. From more intuitive controls (and faster player speeds over last year) to multiple modes and extraordinary production values to tighter AI (artificial intelligence) and support for many different platforms (even older ones), EA Sports has its finest "footy" game to date. The modes may not be radically overhauled compared to FIFA 17, but the extra attention given to The Journey mode really pays off. The young prodigy Alex Hunter returns in his second season -- along with a star-studded cast of players including famous football talent like Ronaldo -- as he considers next steps and must make meaningful choices on and off the pitch. From Brazil to Los Angeles, you'll experience the trials and tribulations of an up-and-coming soccer star in this chapter-based, emotional story mode. You can personalize Alex Hunter's look -- including hair style, tattoos, and play style -- and engage in squad battles (AI-powered clubs) and in local multiplayer with friends on the same screen. This year's The Journey mode also lets you play as additional characters in shorter, stand-alone stories based on characters Alex meets throughout his rise up in the big leagues.
There are some minor issues, though. Not including Ronaldo (who looks amazing), most player models look the same, with similar animations and styles -- even though EA Sports claims they've done a lot of work in this area. You only notice during the close-up camera shots, of course, but it does break the suspension of disbelief a bit. Also, you might find yourself waiting a moment for player animations to finish before you can pivot and perform a new move on the pitch, such as a quick sprint or 360 deke. But these aren't major issues, and the overall pace is better than in years past -- faster than last year, but slow enough for you to employ methodical tactics. For instance, this year now allows for "quick subs," allowing you to swap out players without having to stop the game (though there are some limitations). It's worth noting how good the production quality is this year, thanks in part to the Frostbite engine -- the players, crowds, and stadiums are incredibly lifelike, as is the TV broadcast-like presentation -- but also in the attention to detail in the league and team's chants, music, color commentary, and so on. Overall, FIFA 18 is an extraordinary game. If you're a fan of the franchise, you won't be disappointed.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about consumerism in FIFA 18, which is full of branding, including logos, clothing labels, billboards, and broadcast graphics. It's just like the real sport (or any sport, for that matter), and EA Sports also has the opportunity to sell in-game advertising. Is it OK that the publisher makes money from gamers and advertisers, too? Is product placement harmful?
Is it worth it to buy an annual sports game? If the developers release a free downloadable update to account for changing team rosters, do you really need to buy one every year? Can you skip a year or two, or do the new features and better graphics justify the purchase?
- Platforms: Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Windows, Xbox 360, Xbox One
- Price: $59.99
- Pricing structure: Paid
- Available online? Available online
- Developer: EA Sports
- Release date: September 30, 2017
- Genre: Sports
- Topics: Magic and fantasy, Sports and martial arts, Great boy role models
- ESRB rating: E for No Descriptions
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.