Video Game Review: FIFA 17
FIFA 17‘s The Journey takes you through the life and career of Alex Hunter.
Are you ready to take The Journey with FIFA 17? This year’s soccer game comes with the series’ biggest change in years. It’s entertaining and surprisingly deep, making it a feature that will most likely soon become a staple in all EA Sports titles over the next year or two.
Konami’s PES series has often been lauded for being more of a true simulator while FIFA tends to be more of a game. You won’t find anything revolutionary here, as the control scheme is essentially the same — if you’re looking for extremely detailed contextual and augmented buttons, you’ll need to go over to PES.
FIFA’s controls are crisp and more tuned towards action and pace, which may be what you want in a footballer’s game, though movement and physicality feel a little weightier thanks to revamped physics.
Once again, EA puts out a top-notch footy presentation. The company has set the bar for sports video games in terms of graphics and sound, and FIFA 17 is no different. The major new mode (more on that below) takes full advantage of the Frostbite engine, allowing for greater depth of animation during cutscenes, as well as voice acting that goes beyond the typical announcers and in-game grunts.
FIFA 17‘s biggest new addition is The Journey. Over the past decade, sports games have adopted RPG-esque traits, allowing a player to create their own character and work their way up through the system while earning XP and leveling up.
The Journey takes this one step further by creating a true single-player campaign, something that has been done in other sports titles (NBA 2K17) before but is a first for this franchise. It’s fully voiced with cut scenes and a narrative arc as you take teenager Alex Hunter into the world of professional footy.
Built on the Frostbite engine, there’s a clear influence from the entire range of EA’s catalog, including Mass Effect-esque dialogue trees and talking animations that help shape the personality of your version of Alex.
The Journey isn’t perfect — like all sports game modes, your enjoyment of it often comes down to how much you appreciate the repetition of playing the actual game (remember when that was all you got in a sports title?), as there’s no option to sim through scheduled games.
However, it gets top marks for presentation and an effective-yet-restrained narrative, making it enjoyable for people who’ve given up on the single-player experience.
The rest of FIFA 17 is what you’d expect from a new EA Sports title. There’s Ultimate Team, Be A Pro, online competition, playing in various global leagues, and championship tournaments.
On the pitch, the AI has been tweaked, as EA is wont to do from year to year, and sharp eyes will notice a difference in how effectively AI teammates line up in formation or jockey for position. Casual fans probably won’t notice much of a change, though.
In FIFA 17, you’re getting a brand new deep single-player mode on top of everything you’d expect in an EA Sports game. The Journey is significant enough that it might entice bored ex-fans to check it out, and it’s major enough to recommend it more than an annual roster upgrade.