If there is one question that surfaces on buyers flocking to a new FIFA installment, it is always this: “will the game have substantial changes or will it be merely a rooster update?” For once in a long while, the answer is a resounding yes, with updated and improved gameplay, visuals, and added game modes that widen the gap between its main competitor (Pro Evolution Soccer) and establish it as one of the best soccer simulations yet.
The most noticeable improvements come from the A.I, which for the first time profoundly understands (mostly) how the game is played, and reads into plays, creating spaces which players can take advantage of. It is almost as if the A.I was a second player that recognizes the tactics you wish to implement, which in turn means less frustrating moments and more elegant goals. This also means that, for the first time, players actually feel unique and different from each other, and thus can be used by gamers to exploit their strengths and minimize their weaknesses.
One particular moment when this became apparent materialized as Alvaro Morata, the second striker for Real Madrid, cut through diagonal lines to create space for a goal but flopped in the final moment and a corner shot was awarded. Soon after, he pursued the ball and with an excellent header netted the first goal in that particular match. His strengths (heading) contrasted with his weaknesses (finishing) and from that moment on, my crosses were always directed towards him.
This can also be acutely seen in the improved passing mechanics implemented, where a more balanced and realistic approach diverges from past titles were “ping-pong” accurate passes alienated players from the simulation (this is still a problem in the Pro Evolution Soccer franchise).
On the graphical aspect, one of the most touted features by EA was the adherence to the new Frostbite game engine. Sadly, the team behind FIFA 17 didn’t take full advantage of Frostbite and although graphics are slightly better (the ambience inside stadiums stands out as a high point), many character models are “generic” and take players out of the full immersion. This can be seen even more when comparing it to its direct rival: Pro Evolution Soccer, which utilizes its own Fox Engine to its maximum potential.
Even so, this current title successfully adds variance so that gamers feel they always have things to do (thus avoiding stagnation). An example: the new modes available in Ultimate Team (Squad Builder) and weekly tournaments that award players good coin and card prizes, which motivates them to return on a daily basis. Also “The Journey”, although a short experience, is entertaining for anyone that wants to take that immersion a step forward; playing as a newcomer in the Premier League whilst experiencing the nerves, pressure, and exhilarating moments it can bring.
Ultimately, FIFA 17 might be one of the best entries in the series, and this shows in its astounding number of sales. For veterans and first time fanatics it is a must-have title of the genre.