|System: PS4, Xbox One, PC, Xbox 360, PS3|
|Dev: EA Canada|
|Pub: EA Sports|
|Release: September 27, 2016|
|Players: 1-4 Players and Online Multiplayer|
|Screen Resolution: 480p-1080p||Content is generally suitable for all ages.|
by Patrick Tretina
The FIFA franchise has been going strong for over 20 years since it first debuted during the Christmas season of 1993. One thing the gaming community can count on year in and year out is a new installment of EA Sports' soccer simulator with incremental improvements. The title takes small steps forward each year without any groundbreaking additions. Last year’s FIFA was stellar with a lot of exciting features, but nothing that really blew us away. This year is an entirely different story. FIFA 17 not only bolsters an improved set of gameplay mechanics to complement a revamped player intelligence system, but it finally comes packed with something much more impressive – The Journey.
FIFA 17’s newest game mode, The Journey, is without a doubt the one piece gamers have been looking for since 2K cemented NBA 2K16 around the idea of a an RPG-style sports simulator. EA Sports has brought its own story concept to fruition on the soccer pitch. Players are put into the shoes of a young gunner, Alex Hunter, to work their way from rising star to international sensation. The game provides a perfect platform to live the life of a professional football player, even if the lows sometimes negate the highs. Journeying your way through the Premier Leagues is unlike anything you’ve ever experienced before. EA has pulled out all the stops to truly deliver a game mode that rivals its competition at 2K.
I found myself knee-deep in The Journey from the onset of my time with the game. After field-testing the improved gameplay mechanics and enjoying FIFA 17’s Active Intelligence System, which I’ll touch on later, I threw my entire self at this new game mode. It’s truly been the piece FIFA has been missing for all these years. Perhaps the most intriguing aspect to The Journey is the decisions you make both on and off the pitch. Your answers to interactive questions and the way you play the game will have a direct impact on your player’s persona.
Unlike NBA 2K16/17’s story mode, FIFA 17’s plays more like a living movie in EA's Frostbite Engine. The fact that the entire experience flows seamlessly from one point to the next is an entirely fresh take on this kind of feature. Rather than force yourself to grind your way into becoming a top player, FIFA makes the journey a natural progression with a nice balance of cutscenes, practices, games, and outside events. Playing your way through The Journey is equally as fun as it is addictive. The game has been consistently good year after year, but it’s always been missing something - The Journey is that something.
Now, onto the nuts and bolts that make up the engine that perfectly supports and drives FIFA 17’s new game mode forward. The gameplay mechanics are the typical standard improvement gamers are used to seeing from EA Sports during this time of year. Player movements have been drastically improved over the years, with players having much more control over how they navigate the field. No longer did my guys feel like they were skating on grass as they finally felt like they had their feet underneath them. The same goes for pulling off moves and juking my opponents out of their undersized shorts – very intuitive, even for a beginner.
Perhaps the most intriguing aspect to the gameplay came from my player’s ability to battle for position and his ability to move without the ball. Everyone knows that moving without the ball is essential for setting up a deadly attack but few video games have ever been able to replicate that piece until now. I’m guessing FIFA 17 borrowed NHL 17’s Net Front Battles system when building the one catered for FIFA because they share similar algorithmic features. My favorite component is the 360 shield mechanic where players can finally shield opponents away from the ball while carrying it down field – a very useful and dangerously lethal move for setting up goals.