I REGARD the incremental changes to the annual entry of FIFA in the same way I do each new iPhone.

Functionally, you are going to be doing exactly the same things with this iteration as you did with the last, re-enact your football fantasies and then get screamed at by a 12-year-old online because you know how to defensive dribble.

Yet this is not to say this is FIFA 17 in a new wrapping, EA have made noticeable little changes and improvements throughout the experience.

Individually they do not seem like much, yet when they are all applied on top of the refined experience from last year it definitely feels like a step forward.

This is the year where attacking play makes a come back, players no longer get locked into slow turning animations and by holding L1 (playing on PS4) turning gets even more responsive.

Sprinting, defending and dribbling with the ball all feel that much better, this also means that players with pace can be lethal against a slow defence.

For the collectors out there EA have added brand-spanking new animations to the Ultimate Team pack openings.

It always felt great to find one of the world’s best players in a pack but that feeling is now heightened as Sergio Aguero positively dances out from behind the card to fireworks and confetti.

In terms of how it all looks, this is probably the best looking sports-simulator there is.

The first thing I noticed was the vastly improved lighting, not just on the pitch but also the intricate player models, even the fans have climbed out of the uncanny valley.

Last year’s biggest addition was a single player campaign, The Journey, this year doesn’t add any play options as significant as that though offline Squad Battles are a nice touch.

The Journey continues this year and carries over your save file from 17, so you can pick up where you left off with Alex Hunter to develop his career.

Again, the production quality behind this campaign is well beyond something that is just tacked on.

Hunter suffers a major set back and you really want him to succeed at going international.

Yet this sort of thing will always be an aside to FIFA fans, it’s a nice addition but I know full well that many will never play it because that’s not what they bought the game for.

In that regard, this review is quite pointless. I could tell you FIFA 18 is terrible and that every copy comes with a mystery bag of faeces; that won’t stop you.

Football fans who play video games buy FIFA, it’s a fact of life. Just be safe in the knowledge this one doesn’t come with faeces and is actually pretty good.

Positives: Tighter ball control, Ultimate Team pack openings, gorgeous visuals, improved attacking play, slick user interface, the licensed soundtrack

Negatives: Defending can be a challenge

County Times rating: 9/10