With their annual releases, FIFA and sports games in general often earn criticism for lacking innovation and get accused for rereleasing the same game over and over again. This time, however, EA turns the table and promises more than just minor adjustments and updated teams by introducing a fully fledged story mode. Can players expect a whole new experience from FIFA 17?
Becoming a legend
When I was younger, I often dreamed of playing side by side with my favourite soccer players, climbing the career ladder from zero to hero. This dream comes true with this iteration of the FIFA franchise, as you play Alex Hunter, an aspiring talent who finds his way from the backyard to the biggest stadiums of Premier League. Called The Journey, this mode provides you with cinematic cutscenes, dialogue options and specific objectives, such as scoring the important goal in a tight face-off. Having a clear mission behind a match felt great and delivered me something that I was missing while playing regular career mode in the past. Also, taking part at the mandatory training sessions helped me become a better player, especially by teaching me the new mechanics of the improvements in gameplay.
EA did a lot more than simply slapping a career mode with cutscenes onto their existing game. The Journey offers a depth that surprised me in many ways. After the audition at the Premier League team of your choice, your Twitter feed is displayed and updated after every match, showing conversations between followers regarding your recent accomplishments. Even your mom loves to send her best wishes in form of tweets and might be your biggest fan. Getting more Twitter fame is important for your sponsorships and thus your income, but the dialogue decisions that make you popular on the internet often interfere with your trainer’s good picture of you, making it more likely that you don’t get to play in the starting eleven. This trade-off breathes life into the game’s universe, but sadly, The Journey is by far not perfect. Even if it might seem that your performance and decisions matter, the narrative is heavily scripted. Most of the time, however, the illusion works fine and effectively plays with your feelings.
The Frostbite Dab
At first glance, FIFA 17′s actual gameplay changes might seem superficial. The overall feel is very much like FIFA 16, as it continues the strong emphasis on dribbling and the fast approach on wing play. Set pieces have changed a lot, however. Even experienced players will have to relearn them from scratch, and scoring a goal seems to be harder than ever. Yet, when you finally manage to score for your team, it’s unbelievably rewarding, especially when celebrated with the dab. Besides from being ridiculously 2016, FIFA premiered actual managers, watching over every step of yours. Graphically, FIFA 17 finally ditches its Ignite past and takes advantage from the Frostbite engine, allowing for more visual fidelity and way better lighting effects on the pit. As the engine is new territory for the developers, there’s still plenty of room to improve player animations and character models in the upcoming years, making me look forward to what they will achieve with FIFA 18.
Truly a journey
FIFA 17 offers the full package of emotions. For the first time in forever, I felt like upgrading from last year’s version was immediately necessary and worth the extra dollars. The newly introduced story mode fills an obvious gap and concludes FIFA‘s package of the ultimate soccer experience.
What we liked:
- Living the soccer dream
- Authentic managers
- Better lighting
- New take on set pieces
What we didn’t like:
- Minor influence on story
- Stiff player animations
This review was written using an PlayStation 4 review copy provided by EA Games. Do you like the addition of a story mode? Do you prefer FIFA over Pro Evolution Soccer, and if yes, why? Tell us in the comments, on Facebook, or on Twitter!