Lyle Arends (who doesn’t have an account here on Game Arena yet) reviewed FIFA 17, one of the most looked forward to games of 2016, last week. Check out his review below folks! – SL
I’m not very good at that game with the kicking and the headering of the ball thing. I’m not. I’m not even remotely knowledgeable of the sport. I’m like, the worst guy to review this title — but darn it, like Macy Gray, I’m going to try, because I am a brave little toaster and full of virtue and vigor and — I’m going to shut up now.
So, FIFA has a story mode this year — no, I am not lying; clean the milk you just snorted out of your nose in utter disbelief… But get ready for another nasal dairy explosion, because The Journey — the aforementioned story mode — is actually really good.
The Journey stars Alex Hunter, who you meet in his youth during a friendly game, where you get to know him and his own — his delightful mother, his legend of a grandfather (a former player), his a-hole father and his best friend, who’s on the team with Alex.
The story skips ahead to tryouts for a pro contract where Alex finally gets a chance to show off his skills to those who matter and show his skills he does, because he’s offered a contract to a club of choice and this is where >puts on shades< the journey really begins, as Alex has to prove himself and rise through the ranks of the soccer world in an effort to help win his team the Premiere League and forge his own legend as one of the greatest players to play this beautiful game.
Like I said, The Journey is actually pretty good when it comes to the story, with the story and its characters being really well written. The people you meet feel distinct and nuanced, with their personalities evolving throughout. Some go from humble to arrogant as fame infects them while others like, say, your team mates go from hazing you at every turn to respecting you more and more with each game. You yourself as Hunter have the chance to develop your own distinct personality thanks to some light RPG mechanics.
Throughout the story, you’ll be given opportunities to react to certain situations with a fiery, cool or neutral response (think Mass Effect’s dialogue wheel) — but they all have consequences. Fiery responses are more sassy (z snap) and benefits you more — especially when it comes to gaining more followers on your social media platforms (followers who will react appropriately to how well/bad you do on the field), which in turns gets you better sponsorships, but you won’t really be on the best of terms with the management or your teammates. Cool responses are more respectful, but won’t gain you more followers, however, management will like you more and this means more time on the field and better opportunities to grow as a player. Neutral responses won’t do you any favours, so it’s interesting to balance yourself and know when to sass it up, cool it down or just keep your opinions to yourself.
As you play through The Journey, you’ll also be able to improve your stats by running training drills and earning skill points to help improve things such as your speed, shot power, ball control and more as well as unlocking and buying aesthetic upgrades for Hunter, and it’s just so satisfying to see your skills grow from match to match. However, The Journey does have some quirks, namely with the fact that Alex starts off on the bench and only tags in later on in matches with a few minutes to spare, and each match will come with some optional objectives for you to perform (scoring, performing tricks, assists etc.) and this combination is a bit frustrating. But if The Journey doesn’t do it for you, you can take to the field by yourself of look online for new challenges.
The last FIFA game I played was… I doubt even the Iron Lords themselves know which is the last one I played, so it’s hard for me to compare this game’s gameplay to any of the recent entries — however, gameplay is a sort of double entendre, if you will. You can get overtly technical, with threading balls (?), crossing (??), doing fancy tricks (???) and playing in a manner which would look right at home in a John Woo movie or you could play like me, where you just run, pass and shoot. The one style might be more exciting than the other, but I had my share of exciting moments, especially with my scrub skills, where scoring a goal was a somewhat rare experience and thus far more exciting and a downright miracle. The smart AI will also give you a fair run for your money with the escalating difficulty levels — but regardless which path you take, FIFA 17’s gameplay is a downright blast and a half, and this is coming from a guy who sucks at it.
Graphically, the game makes use of the Frostbite engine, so it’s just plain gorgeous to look at. From what the Google machine has shown me in its infinite wisdom, players, stadiums and kits (from that team in red with the yellow logo to that other team in maroon and navy and that other team with the thingy) are beautifully and faithfully recreated, but, being a soccer game, it’s just green field after green field, so no matter how good it may look, it gets to the point you really don’t even notice anymore — occasional weather effects such as wet fields breaks this humdrum cycle, though. But, after a few games, it just becomes part of the chain and we’re full circle again.
The audio side of things, commentators are a delight, covering the game in a very realistic, natural fashion, their voices building and exploding with excitement and shock in moments which deserve such responses and even arguing or doubting certain decisions from referees or umpires or imperial death messengers — those guys with the yellow and, red Yu-Gi-Oh cards. The crowd — the heart and soul of matches — are also a delight and you can’t help but get an IRL burst of adrenaline when you’re approaching the goal and the crowd starts to lose it… And then you miss and feel horrid as their disappointment echoes around you and reverberates your very soul with shame waves. And don’t get me started on the mind-blowingly amazing soundtrack which contains great artists such as Empire of the Sun, Beck, Zhu, Capital Cities, Safia, Kygo and more — I literally just sat for about an hour and listened to the songs, that’s how good it is. Goddam, good job, EA music chooser people. Good job.
Again, I’m the worst person to review any sport game which isn’t wrestling, but the fact that I, an utter soccer scrub, had such a good time with a game I had every right to hate should be telling enough on its own. A fantastic story, versatile gameplay and gorgeous graphics makes FIFA 17 a damn fine game, no matter if you’re a God-level or scrub player… Like some people… Some people being me.