“Why?”, you ask….. why are we only reviewing Fifa 17 now? It’s been out for ages, surely!? Yes, it has been out for an age, but it’s only just had a big patch, and one which solves many of it’s launch issues.
Fifa had a big visual upgrade in 2016 via a swap to the engine developed by DICE, as used in Star Wars Battlefront. That doesn’t, of course, mean that Fifa has because a first or third person shooter. Nor has Ultimate team been replaced with a death match mode. No, it means better lighting, more sweaty players, pitches that tear up more.
It doesn’t mean different animations or even art. The players have much the same library of moves, with a few new ones thrown in, whilst the crowd is the same crowd, with the same haircuts. However the supporters do seem a little more dynamic in this version.
Fifa 17 also adds a new mode called the Journey. This, despite it’s name, is not a train simulator bundled within the game (maybe we can expect some coach driving DLC, as you get to drive the team bus?). Instead you start off as a rookie player, and must play your way to the top division. Along the path you will have have conversations, do a lot of skill based games, and of course play matches, starting in the low divisions, until you hit a top club. This didn’t grab my attention much, as I don’t want a roleplaying football game, but other people who are playing it really enjoy it, so don’t take our disinterest as a sign that it’s not a good addition. It is.
I spend a lot of time playing one off games and also playing a managerial career. So this is where I’ve been putting the game engine to test. Pre-patch it was buggy. Better lighting aside, it felt like a step backwards from Fifa 16. When switching defender it often wouldn’t select the right player, shooting was totally random, the ball sometimes went behind the player with it, and worst of all defending was impossible. Sure Fifa often plays with the tempo of play between releases, but this was fundamentally broken with so many parts not gelling it was frustrating to play.
Remember we mentioned how the game had added a few extra animations? Well, because of the bugs, there was a real feeling of lag (never good with ANY video game), which was made worse by some of the animations which took us out of the feeling we were in control. If you listen to our podcast, you might have heard me suggest it was almost like Dragon’s Lair, the old arcade machine, where you triggered animations with one button and then waited for them to end.
Post patch, and whilst it could be further refined still in our view, it’s a different beast. Now we are starting to see the new game engine shine. As opposed to the extra animations feeling they were getting in the way of the game, the game is now starting to dance, like a Coutinho and Lallana set piece.
The bottom line is, if you bought Fifa17 already but was put out by it, stick with it, and make sure your console has downloaded the update. If you were waiting to get FIFA17, but had been put off due to talk of it’s bugs, we can now say that it’s safe to wade into the waters. You can even see digital replicas of the managers this season, as well as kinda pseudo recreations of your favourite players. Surely that’s worth the purchase alone?
Once again Fifa reinvents itself. Yes, there are some gimmicky touches (like the managers), but there is enough new here to fill its more than just the same game with updated player rosters and shirts. It’s just a shame it had a sloppy release, and we hope Fifa further refine the code.
Thanks to Xbox for the review code. This was written by Steven Gurevitz