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FIFA 17 Review: A New Journey Begins

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There are a few things that are certain in life, death, taxes, and that every year we will get a new FIFA title to play. However, there is something different about this year’s FIFA, that really pushes the limit of what is possible in a football game. FIFA has been a staple every year, with a few adjustments here and there, but so far, it has done very little to really push the “next gen” feeling.

I use the phrase “next gen” loosely here, as FIFA 17 seems like the entry to really make it feel very different from the rest, finally making it a “next gen” experience. You can add all the visual updates you want to a game, but it needs more than a pretty face to sell, as its what’s inside that counts. FIFA 17 now has the looks and personality to match.

The biggest new addition to the series is the new "The Journey mode". It is a new story-based mode that revolves around football star Alex Hunter, as he starts from the bottom, and slowly breaks into professional football. The mode is a combination of football matches, with some dialogue, decision making, and some rather emotional cut-scenes. It really takes you on a “Journey”, right from the bottom of club football, to the top of the FA Championship.

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During this mode, you will have to communicate with the media, make decisions, watch your friendships fall apart and gain new ones along the way. The story is gripping, and it plays into various themes of betrayal, friendship, inner strength, determination, and family bonds. It plays as a great new addition to the series, one which I hope becomes a staple for years to come.

Saying that, it is not without its faults as it is still limited to Alex Hunter’s decisions and when you make them, the impact is barely felt. It would have been nice to feel the consequences of your decisions, as you do in say NBA 2K17’s MyCareer mode. It is a great start however, that is sure to grow as time goes on.

The new mode does have some personal decisions to make, especially when it comes to leveling up, and applying new upgrade points to your specific skills. After a few days playing the mode, Hunter will feel like the perfect player that you tailor made throughout the Journey mode. Other than that, the impact of your decisions during cut-scenes and interviews, have no effect on the outcome of the pre-determined game mode.

There are also moments that feel a bit cheesy due to overacting and predictable plot twists. If you have ever watched a movie about a footballer who wants to make it big, then this will have no shock factor for you.

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However, I have to appreciate what EA have done here. As someone who has never found FIFA appealing due to its monotonous gameplay, this was the first time that I actually took the game seriously. Sure, the mode has a few creases that need to be ironed out, and the sleeves might need to be changed, but it is a step forward in a tedious experience.

The rest of the game features quite the list of changes. The new gameplay engine allows for improvements across the board. Visuals have been improved to a whole new level of fidelity. Stadiums look great, and even the crowd has been polished up to look alive. Character animation now phase in and out of key much smoother, allowing for a better connection to your players by eliminating that robotic look.

Gameplay has also been tweaked to get rid of a few cheese-able manoeuvres, and at the same time, improve on mechanics that were already there.

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Apart from the Journey mode, the game does feel like a big update, which will please fans and newcomers alike. Multiplayer skill games like two versus two and some various drills, let you mess around while loading into the game.They are so enjoyable, that they should get their own game modes. Ultimate Team returns as always with new Squad Building Challenges where you will need to build sides with certain restrictions to player race, skills level etc.

FIFA 17 feels like a content update to FIFA 16 at times, but when you really get into the finer details of the game like the new Ultimate Team features and the Journey mode, you will see that it packs more than meets the eye. All I hope, is that next year the Journey is more elaborate than this year’s introduction, as there is so much potential for it to grow.

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Marco CocomelloTwitter / MWEB GameZone: Twitter | Facebook | YouTube

"FIFA 17 now has the looks and personality to match"

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