FIFA 17 Review

Richard Walker

With PES finding its form again over the past few years, EA has taken drastic measures this year to make FIFA 17 a fresh start for the franchise, throwing out the old Ignite engine and ushering in a new era with DICE's proprietary Frostbite engine. Using the same tools that power games like Battlefield and Mass Effect ensures that FIFA really looks the part this year, but how does it fare on the pitch?

As well as moving to Frostbite, the banner addition for FIFA 17 is the game's new story mode. For years, NBA 2K has been pumping out its own story mode in MyCareer, and this year, FIFA 17 has decided that it wants a piece of the action. Introducing 'The Journey', FIFA 17's new narrative-driven footballing yarn, in which you chart the career of hot prospect, Alex Hunter. It's a similar prospect to NBA 2K's story mode, but with its own unique attributes that set it apart as something quite special.

Marco Reus: cover star and fella you'll bump into in The Journey.

Admittedly we went into playing The Journey with a great deal of cynicism, only to find that it's not only well-written and nicely acted in spite of its innumerable 'small town kid made good' clichés, but it also has you invested in its characters from the off. This is no mean feat, especially as similar story modes have tried and failed to make you care about its cast with some ham-fisted attempts at drama. Parts of The Journey are fairly predictable, but Alex Hunter is a likeable protagonist and his path to footballing greatness is an entertaining one, your interactions off the pitch dictating the kind of player you'll be on the pitch. It's well orchestrated stuff.

That's another string FIFA can add to its bow then, boasting a best-in-class story mode alongside all of its other stalwart modes that set the series apart from the competition. Again, the one that will always drag you back is FIFA Ultimate Team. It's still completely brilliant, the FUT Draft returning for the second year running to further flesh out an already incredible mode. As ever, the goals remain the same, tasking you with building your squad, optimising the chemistry between your players on the pitch, and acquiring card packs containing players, consumable items and such. The new Squad Building Challenges also add further activities to Ultimate Team, unlocking unique rewards as you complete its objectives. They're a nice touch.

Stir in additional Career Mode options beyond The Journey, and FIFA 17 remains as comprehensive a football game as ever, unrivalled in terms of the content on offer. On the pitch itself, however, something still feels slightly amiss in FIFA 17. A remarkably solid game of football, FIFA looks completely authentic, its plethora of licenses making it the real deal in terms of presentation, but there are aspects to FIFA's game that aren't quite as well-honed as you'd hope.

On the ball, dribbling and passing play is robust, while shooting has plenty of fizz to it, but on defence, FIFA 17 is somewhat less successful. Physical play feels neutered, sliding tackles over-animated to the point where they're almost useless, whereas jostling for headers or position in the box is a bit on the woolly side. Turns and movement in certain situations also suffers from being a mite too unresponsive, nullifying fast breaks as you attempt to wrangle the ball under control before being able to run. Corners and free kicks are a bit crap too, the aiming reticle projected onto the pitch during the former not being particularly helpful.

There are times too when players fail to make intelligent runs, instead stopping in their tracks, causing a run towards goal to break down because the AI doesn't make the right decisions. Referees sometimes make questionable calls too, even for the slightest nudge or mistimed tackle. The list of minor complaints goes on. You might get the sense that FIFA 17 could benefit from being a bit smoother overall, in fact, but despite it flaws, this is still an incredibly solid and playable game of football.

FIFA 17's corners aren't great.

PES 2017, by comparison, is the more responsive and immediate game of football this year, although FIFA 17 is nonetheless a significant step forward for the series. It certainly remains the most fully-featured football game money can buy, with womens teams making a comeback and FIFA Ultimate Team and the FUT Draft still among the best modes in any sports game around, full stop. The biggest surprise is The Journey; a genuinely worthwhile addition that defies expectation, being a story mode that every FIFA player should jump into. Online play is superb too, Pro Clubs enabling you to create a player and drop into a match in an instant. With leagues, tournaments, friendlies and co-op play also available, FIFA 17's online component is fantastic.

There are a smattering of achievements attached to these online modes and The Journey too, so you'll scoop some Gamerscore for your efforts in each of the game's modes. Like FIFA 16 before it, this year's achievement list is actually surprisingly decent. It seems that EA has finally got a handle on how this achievement malarkey works, and FIFA 17's list covers all of the requisite bases, rewarding you for scoring goals in a variety of ways, delving deep into Ultimate Team, kicking off in the game's Pro Clubs mode and having a few matches with the international womens teams. It's a good all-round list with an excellent spread. Nice work, EA.

Another strong offering from EA Canada, the series' first go with the Frostbite engine has breathed new life into FIFA. Arguably the best one since FIFA 14, FIFA 17 is a positive step in the right direction, despite failing to deliver a game of football that's as responsive, smooth and eminently playable as PES in its prime. That said, FIFA 17 represents a more complete football package in terms of content, delivering unparalleled authenticity with its licenses, commentary and overall presentation.


In the PES vs. FIFA stakes, we're giving this year's bout to PES. However, that doesn't diminish how good FIFA 17 is. It's a superb football game, marred slightly by a few annoying flaws. As an overall package, FIFA 17 also delivers in spades. Back of the net!

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A decent selection of songs on the menus, as always, and the commentary is pretty good too. However, it does have a tendency to repeat lines a fair bit.


The best looking FIFA game in some time, the Frostbite engine makes for some cracking visuals. Some of the likenesses are a little bit 'off', but overall, FIFA 17 looks remarkably slick.


FIFA 17 is the best FIFA since 14 and the most intuitive once we've played in quite some time. It's a game that gets better the more you play it, as you figure out its quirks and kinks.


FIFA remains unmatched in its suite of modes and features, FIFA Ultimate Team remaining the most addictive and engaging mode in any sports game. The Journey is also great, sort of like a footballing Mass Effect. Sort of.


Another decent list, EA has built upon last year's selection of achievements with some nice objectives to complete and an excellent spread across the board.

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