FIFA 17 has finally arrived! The new football game that everybody, including ourselves here at Zatu Games, has been talking about for months! So much had been promised by EA Sports. This is the year that will see even the casual players realise the difference between last year's title.
As the slogan says; "Football Has Changed!"
We were fortunate to host our own little FIFA 17 evening on launch day, with four members of the Zatu Games team competing in a little bit of two-on-two competition. We played quite a few games on FIFA 17 because, as you all know, the term 'one more game' never ends up being true!
I also delved into The Journey once I made it home and to my own personal copy of the game so I will give you guys a quick insight into that during this review! So let's get down to business, just how good is the new FIFA game?
It looks the same! Why do you buy the same game every year? A common question that FIFA fans have to answer every year. Well rejoice people because FIFA 17 is completely different to last year's game!
First of all the players, fans, ground and even managers (yes we finally have proper managers in the game) look amazing thanks to the Frostbite Engine! FIFA has genuinely never look so good! Not only does it look good, it feels good as well.
The gameplay is tight and technical. We found that it was very effective to work in short pass triangles whilst only deploying the deadly through-ball when the time was right. Some of the team play on show was amazing. The movement of the players and timing of the runs were a huge improvement on last year's game. Player realism is also right on point. It didn't take me long to score a bullet header from Zlatan himself!
Defenders are also much more intelligent this year. The defence will work together to try and intercept your runs and I also ended up being forced off the ball or knocked off it by a last minute sliding challenge! This is good to see as FIFA over the years has been too easy at times, with defenders constantly making mistakes.
Set-plays have been given a major overhaul this year and well to be honest they are going to take some getting used to. Corner kicks let you select the location you want the ball to land. This turns out to be quite tricky and even if it reaches your player he always seems to head it straight to the keeper - all four of us suffered from this at one point.
Then there's the penalties! Now they are a challenge! Gone is the old power/precision bar and in is the the run-up and direct option. You now get to choose your starting position and manually start your run - whilst powering up and aiming! Most of our penalties ended up being on the floor passes - some of which made it into the back of the net! I am sure we will get used to this... eventually!
The Journey is arguably the biggest and most anticipated mode in the new game! For those of you who don't know The Journey is EA's version of a story mode - their attempt at the MyCareer modes seen in WWE and NBA games.
This is the story of Alex Hunter. A young lad who has always dreamed of being a footballer and even has football in his blood thanks to his grandfather and father. I didn't quite know what to expect as I clicked on The Journey for the first time but I was quite impressed.
There was an element of drama to what I was watching. A children's football game with parents at the side of the pitch shouting and cheering their children on or in this case, cruelly shouting negative feedback. Yes Alex's dad plays the pantomime angry father role - whilst his mother and grandfather cheer him on.
The start of The Journey is brilliant and is definitely something that most FIFA players can relate to from their childhood. Sure some of the acting isn't the greatest but was it ever going to be? I certainly wasn't expecting too much from the cut scenes. The intro credits following the children's game really builds this up into something special. The character focus is excellent - I already cared about this young footballer and what was going to happen next in his career.
What happens next is we fast forward a good few years and Alex is attending his exit trails - in other words, his final chance to impress professional scouts. The trail is split into five different sections and is basically like a training session that you would see in real life or in the loading screen challenge mode.
I found these challenges to be relatively easy in all honesty but it is still fun to play through. The atmosphere is perfect for a football trail. You can hear players and coaches shouting instructions such as "watch your man" and "get on the post." Once you have passed the trail you are approached by an agent, who is sniffing around for your signature. Quite ironic given real-life circumstances at the minute.
That magic moment is next where you pick your team and how you want to play the journey. I felt happy just watching this moment because this is the dream that most young footballers have - you are about to become a professional footballer! I chose Southampton because, well what's the point in going straight for a top four team? I also selected to play on as Alex, rather than the full team, to help separate it from season mode and online. The last thing I want is to get bored of this exciting new addition to FIFA.
I cannot wait to see where The Journey takes me next and how the world of professional football will effect young Alex Hunter!
Verdict - 90%
UPDATE: This product is no longer available to purchase from Zatu Games. All information above including prices were correct at the time of publishing but may not be accurate in present day.