FIFA 17 Preview: Significantly Different of its Gaming Life
Every year we wonder what tweaks and changes EA Sports will make to its FIFA game and for the last few, they have been minor. The action on the pitch has steadily improved but, bar women's football, there have been few additions in terms of gameplay modes.
This year is different. A whole new mode has been added and, for the first time in a FIFA game, there's a story mode.
In The Journey, you take control of Alex Hunter, a young lad who undertakes a rags to riches rise to the top of the footy ladder, and you are steering him along the way. It stars a number of real-life personalities, including Jose Mourinho, but the main action centres on the fictional star.
Having played this mode at E3 2016, we have to say it adds a new element to the game. It won't replace Ultimate Team as everyone's favourite mode, but there's something interesting about getting involved with a player's off-pitch life as well as his destiny on it.
The in-game stuff is similar to previous you are the player modes from former years. You get scored on how much of a contribution you've made to the score and action. Outside of games, you are also asked questions on occasion, with your answer determining what kind of person you are judged to be.Hunter's meteoric rise takes him through Manchester United and, ultimately, England, while the short section available to us at the show dealt with his debut at Old Trafford.
Needless to say that it's difficult to play one half of a new football game as a single-player that didn't appear much on screen – and our AI-controlled teammates didn't really help much, so we didn't complete any tasks successfully. But there's a lot of potential in The Journey for one play through, before heading back to Ultimate Team.
We also played a versus match with the new engine and we have to admit that, while the graphics are neater and crisper, thanks to the switch to the Frostbite Engine, it still felt very much like last year's game.
It must be pointed out though that there wasn't much time for us to get a real handle on the changes. Free kicks and corners are very different in that you can choose the spot on the pitch you want to aim at for both. Again though, it will take a few more plays to assess whether it works better than the old system.
There's no doubt that this year's FIFA will be considered as significantly different to last. Whether that is a good thing remains to be seen – we definitely need to play much more of it to find out.
What we do think so far is that The Journey will at least give you something else to occupy your time with, until the single-player campaign is finished.
With PES 2017 really upping its game this year where it matters, on the pitch, it's interesting that FIFA's biggest new feature is more about what goes on behind the scenes. It's certainly an interesting year for footy games, that's for sure.