FIFA 17 Review

FIFA is a series going through a major period of change. There’s the shift in game engine for one thing, adopting DICE’s Frostbite engine and dumping Ignite which was used from FIFA 14 to 16. Then you have the story mode introduced by The Journey, the first of its kind in an EA Sport’s title since Fight Night Champion. Underneath it all is the world’s biggest football game series, working to maintain its hold at the top.

The Frostbite engine has made quite a difference to the way FIFA now looks. Pitches and grounds look sharper with better lighting, player models look more detailed compared to previous games, and there are even small details like clothing reacting properly to movement. FIFA 17 is certainly a graphical powerhouse, but all the subtle shirt movements in the world won’t help if the action on the pitch isn’t up to scratch.

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I settled on playing FIFA 17 on Professional difficulty, with Semi-Pro making matches a bit too easy to dominate while World Class led to utter domination by the opposition. Professional seems to be the difficulty where you’ll experience a tough but fair challenge. Don’t go expecting scorelines of 5-0 or above, unless facing a team that is significantly weaker, because defences in FIFA 17 aren’t that easy to break down.

In fact, a lot of the game seems centred on the midfield play, using probing passes to work the ball near to or into the box.  If you’re comparing it against it’s key rival in PES 17, then FIFA 17 feels slightly slower when it comes to ball movement and attacking. The ball itself doesn’t seem to move as smoothly either when facing up against Konami’s title.

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Defenders close down your space quickly, making it difficult to get clean shots on goal, and while there are teams that can be undone with a decent through ball allowing for one on one situations, the majority of the goals I scored came from battling in the box until I could get a bit of space to shoot. While you’re defending, standing tackles feel more efficient compared to sliding, with the advantage of not leaving a player grounded. The disadvantage of standing tackles is that refs seem to give fouls for them quite often, even when it doesn’t look like a foul has occurred.

During my time with the game there were a few times where decisions were called long after the fact. For example, during one attack a through ball was played with the player getting it about 40 yards from the opponent’s box. I managed to get to the box and almost get a shot off before the whistle was blown for offside. It was only one of a couple of examples, and it was an exception rather than the rule, but hopefully it can be rooted out in a future update.

Another issue is the commentary, which made some notable mistakes made. One was talking about the wrong team, unless PSG was renamed AC Milan in the last week, and a scoreline error with the commentators talking about a 1-0 scoreline at 2-1. For some reason, commentary in football games still has a way to go when compared to other sports series such as NBA 2K.

There have been a key change to the gameplay, and these focus on the game’s set pieces. Corners and free kicks now have the option of moving a cursor about in the box for more accurate placement, allowing you to better judge receiving player runs and deal with the defence. After using this feature for a short time, it’s actually quite hard to go back to the hit-and-hope style that previous games had. Free kicks and penalties now give you the ability to dictate your run up and have more control over the kick as a consequence.

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A lot of the effort has been poured into FIFA 17’s The Journey mode. Here you’ll live through Alex Hunter’s first year as a professional footballer, from choosing a club to play for to dealing with relationships with the people closest to him. The best way to describe The Journey is a streamlined version of Be A Pro, but with some extra RPG elements. Between matches you’ll take part in up to two training exercises, which boost Alex’s attributes, whereas you can take up to five sessions in Be A Pro and choose what to focus on.

While attribute growth is the same across the two modes, what makes The Journey different is the story. After certain situations you’ll be able to choose how Alex reacts, split between cool, fiery, or balanced. This affects relationships with the manager and fans. A more fiery Alex will gain more fans on Twitter while a cooler one will be more respected by the manager. Playing well and having a manager’s support is what will help Alex break into the starting team, while having more fans gets sponsorship deals and money. Alex’s story also focuses on his relationships with his mum, grandad, dad, agent, best friend, and rival. The acting is very well done by all involved, and if more elements of The Journey could be mixed with Be A Pro then EA would be on to a real winner.

There’s also the usual standard season where you control a team and take it through various competitions, aiming to meet the requirements of the club like winning a title or avoiding relegation. Obviously the experience here will depend on the team you pick and the difficulty you choose to play on. There’s no major changes to be noted in the career mode, so expect pretty much more of the same from the previous year.

You can’t talk about FIFA and miss out on discussing Ultimate Team. It’s back again this year and has received an addition with the Squad Builder challenges. In this mode you’re required to build a team meeting certain specs using players in your club. When you’re done you submit this squad but lose all the players in it. Your reward is then a card pack, its level depending on the challenge undertaken.

It’s essentially betting that you’ll receive better players than you already have, though that really is down to luck of the draw. If that’s not for you, the standard modes like divisions and tournaments are here too. I did manage to get a couple of games online and the connections varied from lagfest to smooth sailing. Of course, FIFA’s servers have been known for connection drops in the past, so until they are being used by millions of FIFA fans it won’t be known just how stable they prove to be.

What’s Good:

  • Frostbite engine gives a boost to graphics
  • Set piece system much better than previous
  • The Journey is a decent experience
  • Ultimate Team is as addictive as ever

What’s Bad:

  • Late ref calls, and error prone commentary
  • Action feels slightly slower

FIFA 17 is a very good football game that does a lot of things right, especially when it comes to presentation. The Journey provides a good story mode for FIFA, introducing the trials and tribulations of a young professional footballer, and when it comes to the action out on pitch, FIFA 17 continues to be a well rounded experience, even if it feels bogged down in midfield compared to PES 17. FIFA 17 will not disappoint fans of the series with the new things to try out, but when it comes to football games this year, there’s no clear winner.

Score: 8/10

Version tested: PS4

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Written by
From the heady days of the Mega Drive up until the modern day gaming has been my main hobby. I'll give almost any game a go.

7 Comments

  1. I believe there is a clear winner tbh, PES 17 hands down. Besides the story mode, EA are not even trying anymore with FIFA cause they know regardless people will buy it, I have been playing it since yesterday, thanks to ShopTo & a few complaints about them taking my money way early. Compare the 2 games, PES is clearly improving every year. Each to their own. See you lot on pro clubs

  2. Just picked up my copy. I agree with you Taylor I have been a PES since PS2 but with the introduction of FUT it is very addictive but fun…. well for me anyway. Looking forward to The Journey mode though.

  3. It is good that fifa is making changes and making the purchase of it more justifiable. PES while the better game I won’t be buying another one as Konami won’t have my money ever again.

    • well u can still get the game but 2nd hand, that way konami or any devs u don’t like won’t get anything ;)

  4. I’ve playing FIFA after saying it was awful last week I’m really starting to enjoy it. It does feel completely different but still good fun. PES is great on the pitch but there is still those few niggles with things like commentary and stuff. It’s a close call between the two this year.

  5. It’s Pro Evo’s year.

    We all know which game will sell more, but PES is by far the better game now. At long last, the King has returned.

  6. Have PES and have enjoyed what I’ve played,got a refund from Sony for my Pre order of The Fractured but Whole after it’s been pushed back and Pre ordered FIFA with it,if my past is anything to go by I’ll probably play FIFA more and get rid of PES,FIFA is just more me when it comes to modes and then content with all the leagues and teams and grounds but PES plays a dam good game this year.

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