FIFA 17 is an improvement on past releases, but it’s still not perfect

Matt Di Michele, Staff Writer

EA Sports’ “FIFA” video game franchise, to many soccer and gaming fans alike, is a fun idea that is executed poorly. While everyone loves virtually taking part in the “beautiful game”, many FIFA players spend $60 (or perhaps more) on the annually released every September and dutifully play a frustrating game until the next big release rolls around.

This year, EA planned to change that by re-invigorating the entire gameplay aspect of FIFA 17 and adding more features to this year’s release. While the gaming giant is prone to this type of announcement every year, it seems as though EA is finally making some bold decisions this year that could end their facetious pattern of failing to deliver on promises of change.

The biggest difference between FIFA 17 and its predecessors is its gameplay engine. EA introduced its popular “Frostbite” engine to the soccer gaming scene this year as to quell the frustrations of players who were tired of ludicrous gameplay mechanics stifling their enjoyment of past editions of FIFA. While the Frostbite engine is by no means enough to warrant the game’s entire price tag, it is a welcome addition that is sure to make fans happy.

FIFA 17’s gameplay is faster than past years’, but it doesn’t reach the extremely hurried levels of pace that titles like 12 and 13 did. It’s a good enough balance between speed and possession on offense and defending also works a little bit smoother than it has before.

But while Frostbite is inevitably an improvement over the choppy and at times extremely maddening engine that was in FIFA 16, not every gameplay aspect was equally progressed. As bad as EA has been at instituting changes in their games, they have perhaps been just as frustrating in the realm of making tiny tweaks and advertising them as overhauls.

This year, EA took its game’s most subjectively annoying aspect, set pieces, and made them more complicated. Penalty kicks and corner kicks have troubled gamers for years now, so EA finally altered them in a way that the average gamer would actually notice. Unfortunately, the changes instilled still lack realism and inevitably lead to some frustrating moments.

Outside of gameplay itself, additions to Ultimate Team, Pro Clubs and Manager Mode pale in comparison hype-wise to the new story mode entitled “The Journey”. Players can take control of a fictional player named “Alex Hunter” and play their way through his career in the Barclays Premier League, motion-captured actors and all. The addition could not have come sooner, as FIFA games had quite inexplicably never utilized a story mode before this year (EA attributes this fact to the idea that past engines wouldn’t have been able to handle it).

Improvements certainly outweigh frustrations on FIFA 17, but the game’s most promising notion is perhaps the idea that next year can be even better.