The latest in the FIFA series is here, FIFA 17 brings the usual games modes with the addition of the all new Journey mode to the game this year, a single player story which follows a footballer through his career. Does FIFA 17 put one in the back of the net, or does it scuff one wide? Read our review to find out..
Everyone and their grandma knows about FIFA and this year EA has brought us FIFA 17, the latest instalment in the classic football franchise that has brought many friendships and controllers to their end. Everyone knows the drill by now with FIFA, you have your default modes like Ultimate Team, Career and Kick-Off. However, this year has brought a new game mode, The Journey. Alongside this new mode players can now play as teams from the Japan J1 League and have access to many new features in the existing game modes that everyone will already be familiar with.
As previously mentioned and advertised prior to the game’s release; FIFA 17 has tried something new in the franchise. This is The Journey, a single player, story focused mode which brings players along on Alex Hunter’s journey through his football career. The Journey when in matches plays just like any other match you’d play on FIFA except you get the option to play as Hunter alone for an experience more similar to a Career with a custom Pro. Outside of the traditional FIFA gameplay The Journey features cinematic cutscenes with interactive elements. These interactive elements are ways you can choose how to have Hunter respond at certain points in cutscenes which will affect a rating of ‘Fiery, Balanced and Cool.’ These ratings determine how much of a following Hunter will gain on social media, his standing with the manager and the reactions of characters he interacts with. Honestly I found that the way you react and your performance in game don’t have much of an effect at all on anything. The only real difference I’ve noticed is that the lower your manager rating the less likely you are to have a chance on the pitch. As a story mode though in FIFA of all games and the elements employed in it, it’s definitely intriguing. Obviously there wasn’t going to be much of a difference to the overall gameplay in this mode besides a few tweaks and additions but there’s definitely something a bit different in The Journey which makes it just work in FIFA. It does need a bit of improving but this could become a new mode to join the annual series.
Career mode has some new additions to test your managerial skills this year. One of them is board expectations, which are objectives the board will expect you to meet with your selected club. These objectives change depending on the club you are managing. So for example, if you’re managing Chelsea you’ll be expected to have lots of success and win the league whereas if you manage Sunderland for example, you’ll have much lower expectations. Also a new feature, there is a financial system which offers in depth breakdowns of all club finances and allows players to be more effective with their budgets. Nothing major but small additions which add that little bit of depth to the experience and make it a bit more interesting.
Ultimate Team returns once again, the main mode FIFA is known for. It’s the same as usual, get your packs, build your team, improve and climb the divisions. There are no real major changes to be discussed besides the addition of the J1 league players and items along with some new legends and general updates to suit the needs of the new season. However, one of the major changes is the Ones To Watch element which has been added. These are unique cards which are like In-Form cards except they evolve over a brief period of time based on the player’s real life performance. Adding a bit of a gambling element with coins on if you want to pick up the player before his stats improve and he costs more or if you want to wait in case he performs worse and the card would be cheaper but worse. Not much else to discuss on Ultimate Team’s part. Still a very fun mode though.
Now, the big part. How does FIFA 17 play on the pitch? With recent developments EA side, they have decided to implement Frostbite 3 (the engine known for being used for Battlefield 4 and the upcoming Battlefield 1 later this year) as the engine for this year. It brings excellent cinematic detail in The Journey and brings a whole new level of realism to the pitch and players. It has also allowed Managers to actually have a presence on the pitch with just as much detail as the players, offering that little bit more depth. As beautiful as the visuals are the gameplay is definitely lacking a bit compared to PES (which I reviewed earlier). The gameplay lacks a real sense of smoothness and nothing flows as well as it does compared to PES however I will give FIFA the upper hand when it comes to the tactics side of things and organising your team. One of the main differences which I’m sure you’ve all heard about is the set pieces. Or at least penalties and corners. I would say the penalties are definitely improved in that they are harder and it actually feels challenging to take them now. Corners are a different story however; you get a yellow circle which is what I assume where the ball is supposed to land but it’s hard to keep the circle in one spot and when you do take the corner, the ball only goes in the general direction of the circle but nowhere near the intended target, even with players really good at corners. This is one of the things in need of improvement. For the most part though the gameplay is pretty much solid besides the one or two things that are really annoying, just like every other FIFA has had.