Reviews// FIFA 17

Posted 4 Oct 2016 11:50 by
Football Has Changed.

That's the tagline that EA felt was fitting for FIFA 17 . After all they were introducing a new engine to try to move away from hole the series had dug itself into. Papering over the cracks helped drag the peak of the series out for a while but in recent years everything started to fall apart again.

Every time they tried to focus on fixing an exploit it opened up another and after the dust settled around the [i]FIFA 16[/i] launch we were left with a game that felt refined to the point of losing any real sense of the sport it was representing.

[i]FIFA 14[/i] had a problem with people exploiting lofted through-balls so they were made impossible to utilise in 15. [i]FIFA 15[/i] was the year of one-touch passing and over-powering teams with tika-taka football, 16 made sure defenders reacted to over-passing. 16 had an issue where players can just skip past defenders no matter how well you time a tackle and well, it goes on.

The problem with cutting out exploits like this is that you're left with a rather formulaic and predictable experience and if there's one thing football is not, it's predictable.

So it was time to change and when EA announced that FIFA 17 will move over to the frostbite engine I found myself sitting up and taking notice. This should be the leap FIFA needs to show PES players why it still outsells the other franchise. However, for a game that promises change it feels all too familiar.

One thing that's fair to say about FIFA is that you know what to expect. It's filled with team licenses, kits, insanely slick presentation and a vast array of game modes. That's not to be understated. It's becoming more obvious that players will focus more on game modes than pitch action when they decide where their money goes this time around.

Everything is there as it was before but this year EA have added something I've been crying out for since Fight Night Champion was released back in 2011, a story mode. The Journey sees you play as Alex Hunter. A kid from South London who wants nothing more in life than to turn pro and reflect the career of his Granddad.

It's essentially a series of matches and training sessions stitched together with some cutscenes and the odd dialogue choice. The writing is cheesey, the characters are one-note and at times it'll feel as though no matter how poorly you play, the plot will continue unchanged, but... it works.

All The Journey needed to do was to create some good guys, some bad guys and have a few hurdles to overcome to add just enough drama to make you want Hunter to succeed in his goals. To detach yourself from the normality of football games and add enough emotional engagement to change the way you think about what's going on on the pitch.

Who cares if everything is a bit cliched or that the choices you make don't change the narrative? At this point in its life span The Journey just needs to prove that it's worth putting time into. If this is simply an experiment then it was proven to be successful the moment I decided not to pass to Alex's mate because he was a bit of a dick before the game kicked off.

I hope EA sees the potential in The Journey and continues to develop the idea in the same way it has with its NBA games. I'd happily buy FIFA just to play a 15 hour football mode like this and with a little bit of work The Journey can go from a fun side mode to an essential solo player experience.

Away from the Journey FIFA once again packs a punch with the amount of options available. Some focus on the excellent Seasons online mode, others prefer co-op from 2 v 2 to 11-a-side. Some won't even dream of going online and stick to campaign mode whether it's taking over United to get the nasty taste of Moyes out of their mouth or playing the long game by trying to take Stevenage all the way to the Champions League. Meanwhile there are those that are already budgeting their monthly wage to account for the amount of fake stickers packs they want to purchase in Ultimate Team.

FIFA is so big, so expansive that it's almost impossible to cover the full thing. The various different game modes make it feel like it caters to everyone with the same level of love and dedication poured into every each nook and cranny of the game. It feels like a football game compilation rather than just a single game.

But there's one side of FIFA 17 that falls short of the competiton. Not to the point where it'll turn people away in their droves but enough to convince me that this year it'll be sitting on the sub's bench while I happily stick with PES, and that's everything that happens on the pitch.
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Games: FIFA 17

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