FIFA 17 Review

Whenever a new iteration of any sports video game is released, fans and detractors alike ask the same exact questions: "What is new? What shiny feature has been added? Why shouldn't I keep last year's copy?" Usually, there is no clear-cut answer. There are small modifications that will significantly alter the gameplay, but nothing particularly marketable. Well, EA has decided to change the rule. 'The Journey' marks the very first time a soccer game includes a single player campaign. Said mode, among some key updates in controls, makes this the best FIFA in years.

First off, FIFA is still a masterpiece in presentation. In that aspect, they're simply lightyears ahead of their competition. Rosters, stadiums, and player faces are all there. Commentary is spectacular, with the broadcasters analysing players with a shocking amount of insight and context. Plus, certain competitions have their own full overlay package. Overall, you can tell a ton of care was put into making the experience feel as authentic as possible.

Having said that, graphics have been slightly upgraded with this year's entry. This time around, EA has decided to use their Frostbite Engine, and the proof is in the pudding. Character models are a lot more detail and vibrant. Weather effects and crowd interaction have all been improved. I'm sure the engine change will truly pay dividends in the future, but I was surprised by the small yet welcomed refinements it already brings.

Moving on to gameplay, it's much (much) better than last year's convoluted mess. Controls are still not as crisp and responsive as the one's you'll find in PES 2017, but a ton of tweaks have been altered to ensure the moment-to-moment action is as satisfying as can be. Now, throw-ins can be dummied just like a faked shot. Free kicks and penalties have been freed up, allowing you to chose your angle of approach and charge your cross or shot much more like you would in regular soccer. You can also use low driven shots and you're able to control the ball from a long keeper kick. Pace-wise, it's sort of slow and not arcadey. After getting used to it, I started to appreciate. I was successfully able to steadily build plays from the bottom which eventually lead to fantastic goals.

You've all been waiting for it, so let's get to The Journey. A story-based mode, you control a young player by the name of Alex Hunter. His dream is to be a professional soccer player, and you get to witness his trip from the actual start. The campaign is surprisingly good. It presents a likeable protagonist, interesting character, and a decent narrative. Mechanically, it's a mix of gameplay, dialogue, and cutscenes. For the most part, I loved it. Having said that, I wish you had more options when it comes to choice. Although you get to pick which Premier League side Hunter initially joins, certain fixed plot points make you feel like your actions are worthless. Regardless of how you're performing, you will eventually be sent on loan. The Journey might not be perfect, but it's somewhat charming and unique. I definitely hope they bring something similar for FIFA 18, but with a more adaptive story.

Finally, we get to game modes. Once again, this EA franchise shines. Career Mode and Ultimate Team are back, better than ever. The fun and addictiveness are certainly still present, but a ton of depth has been added. All of these modes can easily take 12 months of your spare time. Plus, online was (for the most part) smooth.

Verdict: FIFA 17 decisively proves that EA won't give up the crown without a fight. A unique story mode, necessary gameplay tweaks, and refined presentation perfectly justifies the purchase.

The Good
- The Journey
- Tweaked Gameplay
- Masterful Commentary
- Great Presentation

The Bad
- Controls Require Responsiveness/Crispness
- Lack of Choice in The Journey

Developer: EA Canada
Publisher: EA Sports
A review copy was provided by EA Sports

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