Editor’s Note: This review originally appeared on Pixelkin.org.
Available on Xbox One, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, PC
We played on: Xbox One
FIFA 17 is a well-crafted homage to association football that treats fans to all of the game modes they have come to expect and all of the players that they know and love. It doesn’t hurt that the game is also gorgeous to behold.
On the topic of “gorgeous,” FIFA 17 is the first game in the series to be developed using the Frostbite 3 engine that EA designed for use with its large scale combat games. The engine was originally intended to allow for things like destructible buildings, but the only structures being destroyed in FIFA 17 are defenses as you attack the goal.
The biggest place where the engine upgrade comes into play is with the interaction between players. Casual fans might regard football (soccer in the US) as a non-contact sport. But, fans of the game around the world know that this is far from the truth. Players jockey for position and all but wrestle each other to the ground while fighting for a loose ball. In the past all of these interactions were handled using canned, pre-drawn animations. This is no longer the case. Instead, the interactions between the players, their limbs, and ultimately the ball are calculated in real time by the engine. This results in more interesting (and less predictable) battles for the ball.
This also gave EA the opportunity to give players more control. There are button commands to help shield the ball from opposing players while dribbling or to lean into opponents to deflect them when they are trying to tackle the ball away from you. This is an unprecedented level of control for the game, which adds a lot to the experience. It also means that the skill cap will be higher. There will be ways to improve your skills for online play for a LONG time before you full master the game.
Once again I found myself captivated by the single player story mode in an annualized sports franchise. FIFA 17 prominently features ‘The Journey.” This is a game mode where players take control of the young footballer Alex Hunter as he progresses through his career in the Premier league. The setup is fantastic. Alex is the grandson of a well-respected player. His father’s career was cut short by injuries. This adds to the tension as he competes to earn a starting spot AND make his father proud all at once.
Players can control Alex on the field and are given specific goals to achieve within each match (score a goal, win the game, etc).
You can also control Alex in between matches by selecting dialogue options that will help shape Alex’s personality and , potentially, impact his standing on his club. The story isn’t revolutionary, but it is good enough that I don’t want to spoil it for anyone reading. That fact is fascinating in and of itself if you think about it. When has a great RPG experience ever happened in a sports game before?
FIFA 17 is rated E for Everyone with no descriptors. The jostling of the players is probably as violent as you will see in the game.
FIFA 17 is a gorgeous game that includes all of the football action that fans of the sport would expect. This is a must own for fans.