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FIFA 18 Nintendo Switch review: So close to being the greatest FIFA ever

EA and Nintendo almost created the ultimate football game

FIFA 18 fans have no doubt spent the past few hours playing the game on their beloved Xbox One, PS4 or PC.

But how good is the Nintendo Switch version?

After all, with portable gameplay and crisp, clean visuals, surely it’s got all the ingredients to be the strongest version of the lot?

Well, yes and no.


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Here we go through everything you need to know about the Switch version of EA SPORTS’ popular game.

Graphics

A lot has been made of the game’s visuals, which – given the limited amount of graphics grunt available to them – actually look very good.

FIFA on the Switch uses a ‘custom engine’ based on the Ignite code from FIFA 16.

While EA confirmed the Switch can handle Frostbite, the company opted to build a unique engine because it would have to be heavily downgraded, resulting in a ‘sh***y second rate game’.

fifa 18

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FIFA 18 on the Nintendo Switch is shaping up to be the best handheld version to date

Andrei Lazarescu, who leads the team in Bucharest working on FIFA for Nintendo Switch, told Dream Team Gaming: “As much as we would have wanted to (use Frostbite) you can’t without making the whole engine work.

“We intentionally chose to do a custom engine because we felt that rather and try and get Frostbite running and end up having to downsize things and making it just a smaller, lower-quality version of the PS4 and Xbox One versions, we wanted this to be a FIFA that stands on its own two feet.

“We want people to recognise it and play it for what it is rather than saying, hey, you’re getting a sh***y, second-rate game. This is a full FIFA that players players will enjoy.”

The result is a game that looks and plays exactly how you’d hope it to.

There’s no fancy motion blur or hyper-detailed players – rather simple, clean gameplay that runs at a silky smooth 1080p 60FPS when hooked up to a TV.

FIFA on the Switch is at its best, though, when played in handheld mode.

Gameplay

The Switch has already proven itself as a brilliant handheld companion, so being able to play the full game (not just the Web App) on the go gives this version a serious edge.

When it comes to gameplay, it’s sleek and smooth – especially when using the standard controller.

It’s ever-so-slightly faster than the Xbox One, PS4, PC versions of the game – with less emphasis on passing the ball around.

Instead, it’s all about perfectly timed through balls – and bombing down the wings.


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Notable omissions include the brilliant Quick Subs, which is really felt when compared to the other versions. AI tends to crowd around the ball, too – making for some unrealistic moments.

There are some issues when it comes to two player, though.

The Joy Cons, for all their technically wizardry, just don’t lend themselves to FIFA.

Controls are far too cramped, and you’ll often struggle to get players to sprint and shoot at the same time. Definitely take this into account if you’re planning on picking it up for long journeys with friends.

Still, those drawbacks aside, it’s everything you’ve been hoping for.

 

You can play mates by detaching the Joy Con controllers – although it can be very fiddly

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You can play mates by detaching the Joy Con controllers – although it can be very fiddly

Other considerations

One of the biggest selling points about the Switch version of FIFA 18 is that you can play Ultimate Team on the go.

Sadly, there are some serious issues with Nintendo’s online infrastructure that cripple the mode – at least for now anyway.

As Eurogamer’s Martin Robinson writes: “I personally lay the blame at Nintendo’s feet. The Switch just doesn’t have the online infrastructure in place that should be the bare minimum for any contemporary console, and FIFA 18 exposes that once again.


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“As long as you have Wifi you’ll be able to play Ultimate Team and buy packs as you normally would. Champions won’t feature but that’s not the end of the world.”

The mode does not have built-in invite system, nor does it have a party system.

Coupled with the fact The Journey doesn’t feature, and Career Mode is a carbon copy of the pretty basic FIFA 17 iteration, it raises serious questions over the £49.99 price tag.

 

The Switch version will not feature The Journey: Hunter’s Return – which will anger some Nintendo fans

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The Switch version will not feature The Journey: Hunter’s Return – which will anger some Nintendo fans

Verdict

If FIFA on the Switch had a better online Ultimate Team service, it would be a must-have for FIFA fans.

Graphics and gameplay are both top notch and show that EA was right to give a partnership with Nintendo another go.

But, given its online limitations – and the fact the Joy Cons aren’t suited to such complex gameplay, FIFA on Switch is more of a luxury than an essential purchase.

If Nintendo’s online infrastructure improves, though, it could well be a must-have game this Christmas.