First off, what is the game missing? FIFA 18 for the Switch doesn't use the Frostbite Engine, instead it’s built on a custom-built engine specifically made for this console. That means there will be no Journey mode, or any of the new Career Mode changes, such as the live negotiations, or even advanced manager targets. What you will see is a career mode that is akin to what you would've seen in FIFA 14. Also omitted is my favourite game mode - Pro Clubs, which is perfectly understandable as it would've been hard to implement this on the Switch. The only real gripe I have with Career mode is that you cannot freely drag and drop players into a position (or if you can I haven't found it yet), the star profiles are missing for players, and you have to click the right analogue stick down to view the attributes for players. But that's hardly a big problem, right?
However, Ultimate Team is included, as are Online Seasons, Kick-Off, Career Mode, Women’s International Tournaments, and Skill Games. The menus look very similar, if not identical to the higher-spec versions, with the full soundtrack and option modes included. There's plenty on offer for the £50 or so you'll pay for this game if you can look past the omissions. The longevity is very much still there, as you can ascend the online tables in FUT and Seasons. Along with that, Career Mode still has depth to it, more than enough to keep players occupied. The CPU is difficult and will provide even the best players with a challenge. For a first effort on a new console there's a strong case to say it’s a justified decision to focus on the core gameplay, mechanics, how many copies are sold (probably), and focus on adding more game modes next year.
In terms of gameplay, I've found little reason to complain as of yet. Weirdly, I've found the gameplay to be better than what I've played with FIFA 18 on the PlayStation 4. Perhaps the slower tempo and less-assisted passing suits me, and scoring has been more of a challenge to me than in the PS4 version. I feel goalkeepers are more able to save shots from distance, working your way into the opposition’s penalty area takes a lot of work and skill, which I love. The buttons are pretty standard and easy to get to grips with, although you can modify the controls as I did. Playing multiplayer with a single Joy-Con each is surprisingly easy and enjoyable, if not awkward on the hands and fingers after a short while.
In regards to the graphics, they are what you'd expect of a low end PS4 game, more or less similar to the first next-gen FIFA title. The camera angle is more zoomed in and you see less of the stadium in the background unless it’s a dead-ball situation or the pre and post-match animations. The crowd are 2D and lack the almost lifelike details of the PS4 and Xbox One versions, but they're still vibrant in colour and noise regardless of the visuals.
I am yet to find a fault with the online servers, or struggled to find an opponent for that matter. Seasons and FUT are the two online game modes available. However, not being able to directly invite your friends to a 1v1 game is disappointing, and it certainly can't be a limitation of the console for this to not be included. Hopefully it can be patched in, but one thing that likely won't be patched in a future update is the omission of the EAS FC Catalogue. I have loads of coins and reached a high level on FIFA over the years, and seeing it not be carried over to the Switch was a huge letdown. Accessing the Catalogue to buy retro kits, celebrations, balls, and Career Mode perks would've been a nice touch without being beyond the realms of possibility.
The battery is decent, with a 10 minute game usually sapping between 10-15% of battery, with slightly more for online play, so by no means does it drain the battery on the Switch. You can quite comfortably scroll through the menus or browse the transfer market on FUT without sapping much of the battery life. Of course when docked this is a non-issue, and while on the subject of being docked, the game outputs at 1080p, as opposed to being 720p when used handheld.
So, should you buy this game? Absolutely! Look beyond what the game is missing and enjoy what's on offer. It's a dream come true for hardcore football fans like me to be able to play a FIFA game on the go. There's longevity to the game, neat gameplay, online capabilities, decent (if not watered down) graphics, challenging AI, and from a purely personal view, one of my favourite gaming franchises in FIFA coming to my favourite gaming company in Nintendo. This hasn't been a typical review and I won't be scoring it as such, but feel free to read my review of the PlayStation 4 version HERE where I have scored it.