I’ll confess, a little bit of pee came out when the dpd van rolled in to my quiet cul-de-sac on Monday morning.
We’re lucky enough to get an early play of FIFA 17 courtesy of the great guys at EA SPORTS after two months of some serious build-up, including revelations about the top 50 player lists, the best free-kick takers and what stadiums have made the game.
It felt like every day a new story about FIFA 17 was dropping into my email inbox so by the time we get to release date in the UK, you can bet talkingbaws.com and I are ready to get our game on.
Now before I delve into my review of the game, it’s worth reminding everyone that the latest in the smash hit franchise comes out in Great Britain tomorrow.
And it’s definitely worth me explaining how big first impressions are in my life. I’ve applied the thinking that they mean a lot to everything I do – including work, where I eat dinner, what shampoo I use and I’ve even tried to apply it to telling my girlfriend the truth about that new dress or jacket she’s wearing.
So that’s the criteria I’ve used for FIFA 17 – it’s all in the first impression for this review. That’s all you can really judge it on unless you’ve got the time to dedicate hours and hours and hours to the game. Unfortunately, my life doesn’t lend itself to that sort of game time. But I’ve put in the necessary time I, and a lot of you, need to make the call on whether it’s worth buying or not.
Because that’s what it’s about. Is it an upgrade on last year’s version? Will you get bored of it easily? Will you shelve it for another new release in the coming months? Let’s see.
Is it an upgrade?
I started off with a game. At this stage people are most interested in the game play. Okay, the other features are interesting, particularly this year, but it’s all about how it plays for the majority. And on first impression it’s not much different to previous editions.
So it was Celtic versus Manchester City, as they play tonight in the Champions League and a lot of our readers should be interested in that one. I always love the game set up in FIFA. You can decide from the off if you want live form applied, while the new view of showing every one of the team’s strips is nice. Game settings has all the usual, with one seriously long list of stadiums and balls available to play with too.
FIFA have kept it the same for gamers when it comes to their team management so whatever way you set your teams up in FIFA 15, you can do it in this one too.
Heading into the match, there are the usual skill games to play. Then it’s over to Clive Tyldesley, Martin Tyler, Alan Smith or Andy Townsend to speak as the teams head out. A big feature of this season’s game is several top managers making an appearance, so the sight of a very life-like Pep Guardiola on the side was welcome. Added to that, You’ll Never Walk Along audibly rang around the ground as Celtic did the Huddle. Way to score big brownie points with the gamers among the Hoops faithful.
As far as game play goes, it’s all very similar to what we’ve had before, but there are two key features most will notice; corners and penalties.
FIFA 17 has changed it up with both this time around and you’ll need to get practicing before feeling confident that you can take them properly in big games.
Starting with the corner kicks, there’s a new marker been introduced so you can easily target the position in the box you want to hit the ball to. Once you’ve got your spot, leave it be and make sure you select a man to attack the point with before finally going for the cross. For a lofted cross you tap your cross button (square for me) and for a driven cross you hold it in. Here’s a quick video showing you how it looks:
As for penalties, here’s where it gets hard – and that’s saying something in a game which is fundamentally easy even if you’ve never picked up a pad before. Unlike previous games, you now have more control over where your penalties go. Using the right analog stick, you can position your player before you hit, you use the left (or directional buttons, as is the case for me) to initiate the run-up and then point your arrow in the direction of where you want to hit it while pressing your shoot button. How hard you press that shoot button depends on how hard the ball goes. Here’s another video quickly showing it:
As the rest of the game play goes, it’s obviously up to interpretation as it could be slow for some and fast for others. I was pleased with how easy it was to move the ball around, both by passing and dribbling. There are less players running in straight lines and turning at 90 degree angles and more fluidity to everything.
The tackling is as strong as ever, while shooting retains all of its previous features while adding more power. If you hold in your shoot button too long, you can be sure that the ball will fly.
And, significantly, it looks like the days of pacy players dominating the game are gone. There’s not as much of an imbalance with defenders more capable of standing up against attackers with electric pace. Bad news for Ahmed Musa and Lucas Moura fans.
Will you get bored of it?
No! If you’re a FIFA fanatic then that will never be the case. But this is going to be genuinely fun to play with either your mates or by yourself.
I’ve yet to really delve into the online side of things (where I’d see myself most), but everything points towards that being an enjoyable experience whether you’re playing some seasons or going in on Ultimate Team. For any past UT players, you’ll get your pack rewards when you set it up.
A big part of people turning off are the same glitchy things happening over and over again. While I can’t rule those out, early indications are a lot of these have been ironed out so you might not reach your boiling point of frustration until next year rather than before Christmas.
When it comes to quality football games on the PS4 or XBox, FIFA is only up there with PES – but I’m confident that FIFA 17 should ensure the franchise retains top spot with sales and user feedback.
It’s lost none of what makes it a great game already and with the changes it has made, particularly with corners and penalties, it actually looks like it’s improved a year on from FIFA 15.
So, for that reason, and based on my early impression alone, it gets a talkingbaws.com rating of 8/10. Only when EA decide to give every Scottish Premiership player his proper face will it get the extra two points from us.
Finishing off, I streamed Celtic v Manchester City live on YouTube earlier and this was the result. A bad result for Celtic, but a good result for FIFA fans all over. Enjoy!
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