As I sit in front of my assistant manager at Arsenal, he tells me how much they think of me, how much of a future I have ahead of me at the club. I smile and say how well I think I’m settling in…
“We’re sending you out on loan” he says
Such is life for a young footballer, big signings come in and down the ranks you. After a few substitute appearances for Arsenal, I found myself leading the line at Newcastle. That was just part of my journey, yours could be very different.
This year EA have given us their new career mode, The Journey. You play as Alex Hunter, who faces his final chance to make it big. Alongside his best friend you take part some exit trials, pass and you could get picked up. Fail and its back to ultimate team for you.
It’s an interesting mode, you have a mass effect style conversation wheel to engage in dialogue, which in turn affects your fans or manager. You take part in training sessions and play in matches, with objectives set by the boss to meet. Some are a bit unfair, you are a 17 year old kid expected to score two and set up one with 20 mins to go? Not likely. It is fun though and well put together and will no doubt have a tweaked version next year too.
I always find myself surprised at how much change there is with FIFA, sometimes it’s only subtle, but this year you’ll find lots has changed, for the better.
Unlike Pro Evolution Soccer 2017, FIFA feels weightier; Players are slower but move in a more realistic fashion, though there are of course all the hilarious glitches that have been reported. It was interesting to see players get in each other way more often which again leads to some calamitous defending. Goalkeepers seem to have improved again, most noticeably when it comes to saving parried attempts. The football doesn’t fizz round the pitch like in Pro Evo, spin is more noticeable, sometimes unpredictable and when you do score outside the box it feels more spectacular. Players are better at shielding the ball than ever before, their first touch is sometimes exquisite and can wrong foot a whole defence, it doesn’t mean you are guaranteed a goal as defending again has been improved.
Set pieces have had a revamp, a circle icon on the pitch helps you pinpoint where you want to put the ball, also giving you the option to drill or float a ball in. You can revert to the original system, but I quite like how the new system is integrated. Unfortunately the one set piece they have completely broken is penalties. Moving the right stick in a direction sets your player off on a run and before you know the ball is often dribbling towards a goalkeeper, that or hitting a corner flag. Penalty shootouts are a farce. Generally though matches are hard fought affairs, you’ll see lots of close matches and you’ll always feel like you have earned your win. This is of course helped by fantastic presentation. Realistic chants from the different teams you play against, the shouts from players on the pitch and the fantastic lightning can really draw you in to a game. With a huge amount of licenses available to FIFA there are very few teams you won’t be able to play as. The addition of the Frostbite has clearly made some difference to the game, players and this year, managers look even more realistic.
FIFA 17 is full of game modes you’ll be instantly familiar with, Pro Clubs returns, with the ability to create your own badge and kit this year. It’s limited but a nice touch, if you have an online pro from FIFA 16 you’ll be able to transfer that player over to 17. Seasons, Co-op seasons and online friendlies are all present, but the most fun is to be had in FIFA Ultimate Team.
To the uninitiated, FIFA Ultimate team or FUT is a card collection game, in which you earn or buy cards to build your ultimate team. Matching players from the same, club, league or nationality will help improve the team’s chemistry, enhancing your chances of winning. Winning matches earns coins which can be used to buy players in the transfer market or open packs of cards. It’s massively addictive and this year there have been lots of excellent changes.
Squad builder challenges are excellent, the aim is to meet the requirements of a certain squad. This may be ensuring the chemistry is above a certain level, or that a certain number of nationalities are in the squad. Meeting the requirements nets you some awesome prizes, from Gold card packs, to rare players. Winning the prizes means giving up every player in the squad you have created, so be warned. FUT Champions is also new to Ultimate Team. Each week, there is a chance to qualify for a weekend tournament that if you are good enough, could see you at the FIFA Interactive World Cup.
FIFA 17 is another great game in the series, you can see the effort EA have made to move the game on and although it suffers from some silly glitches it’s still great fun to play. The obvious question people will ask is whether it’s better than Pro Evolution. Having played both it’s hard to say as they both are great for different reasons, I’ll be playing more FIFA this year because I prefer the gameplay, but it’s worth giving both games a try.