FIFA 17 PS4 Review
Publisher: EA Sports Developer: EA Canada Genre: Sports Players: 1-11 Age Rating: 3+
Other console/handheld formats: Xbox One, Xbox 360, PS3
Following in the footsteps of EA’s very own Fight Night Champion from 2011, FIFA 17 introduces a story mode to the series for the very first time. The Journey, as it’s called, is easily the headline feature of this year’s game, and it’s a mode that has obviously had a lot of effort put into it.
Fictional player Alex Hunter (played by Tomiwa Edun) is the promising young star that The Journey mode spotlights; he’s a third generation footballer, so the sport is obviously in his blood. The events of the story begin with Hunter as an 11-year-old boy, highlighting his early football skills as well as the stormy marriage of his parents and his difficult relationship with his father. Not long after this though, the story fast forwards to a 17-year-old Alex as he embarks on his journey into professional football along with his best friend Gareth Walker. Before climbing to the heights of the Premier League, the duo must first take part in a trial, and then it’s up to you as to what Premiership team you sign for. The Journey certainly captures the ups and downs of professional football across a single Premier League season, both in the story as well as in the game itself. One of your early ultimate goals is to become a crucial part of the starting eleven as opposed to sitting on the bench, and to do this you must impress the manager in training as well as during matches.
The story also allows you to choose responses, with cool, balanced and fiery options being available to you. Cool and balanced responses will go down well with the manager, while fiery responses won’t sit well with him, although they will earn you more fans. Even though the choices do affect certain things in the game itself, don’t expect the story to be drastically altered, and some may even think some things feel a little too scripted. Whatever the case, FIFA 17 is an impressive starting point for this brand new mode.
In a nice touch, before each match you are able to decide whether to play as Alex, and Alex alone, or to play as the entire team. This will be welcome to those who haven’t really got on with playing as a single player in past FIFA games, although you’ll get the most from the mode as well as the extra satisfaction if you are able to play to the strengths of your chosen position (striker, centre attacking midfielder, and left and right winger are your options) as opposed to concentrating on the entire team.
The manager informs you as to what you are doing right during matches as well as what you are doing wrong. Playing as an attacking centre midfielder, I was regularly told that my passes were creating chances but that my tackles were often mistimed, so it’s helpful in the way that you know where you should focus on improving your game.
There’s also training sessions during the mode, and you can either play these or simulate them if you are feeling lazy, although if you do the latter, your skills won’t develop as quickly. In these sessions as well as during matches, your stats will improve over time. The more of a fan following you get, the more sponsorship deals you’ll also receive, so the game does make you feel as if you are really coming up in the football world in both skills and stature.
The Journey is an excellent mode that deserved a lot of attention in this review, although the game is no slouch in the gameplay department either. The on-the-pitch action is as excellent and responsive as always with high quality animations, and fluid and fast paced play. With Frostbite, the game also has a brand new engine which impresses with its lighting and increased player detail, although the gameplay is largely unchanged from last year.
The biggest gameplay changes to this year’s FIFA is definitely in the set pieces, with free kicks, corners, throw-ins, and penalties all receiving attention, and giving you more control over previous games in the series. This means that you are able to deliver corner balls more accurately, you can walk along the touchline during throw-ins, free kicks allow you to strike the ball with the outside of the player’s foot, and penalties require you to run up to the ball and then choose the direction of your impending shot. The set piece changes will be welcome to some, although more casual players may prefer the system of old. FIFA is a football simulation these days though, so giving you extra control is an obvious route to take the series down with its set pieces.
FIFA 17 once again has an amazing depth of options, and many players will find themselves immersed in the career mode and the ever popular Ultimate Team mode, while also getting competitive in multiplayer modes. The addition of The Journey brings another excellent mode to the series, and it will be interesting to see how this branches out in future games in the series; there’s much potential for it to grow. The all important match action is also superb once again, and the presentation and bountiful amount of neat little touches are hugely impressive, which means that FIFA 17 is one game that I highly recommend you to play, although just don’t expect huge changes in the game itself.