FIFA 17: A New Engine and Single-Player 'Journey' Look to Freshen Up the Franchise
A new graphics and physics engine, a single player campaign and all the Premier League managers. FIFA 17 looks to be EA's biggest overhaul of the series in a number of years.
Somewhere in the history of cinema, James Bond films were no longer reviewed as good or bad films but they became good or bad Bond films. Likewise, EA's annual updates have become about whether they are good or bad FIFA games.
Last night, EA took the wraps off their latest update to the hugely successful FIFA series. Since its debut on the Mega Drive and Super Nintendo on 1993 as the first game to come with an official licence from FIFA. The game has iterated every year since with almost 30 different titles released during the game's history released on pretty much every format known to man from Game Boy to 3DO and Amiga to Xbox One, PS4 and PC.
Each year brought incremental differences: the isometric view changing to 2D sprites within a 3D stadium then to players rendered in 3D polygonal models; Real names, thanks to a FIFPro licence, being complimented with real player likeness, then with individual personalities for the big players.
Many times the updates are subtle, the annual 'improved ball physics' in early years eventually making way for more detailed changes in tactics, the flow of the game, atmosphere and so on.
This year, FIFA 17 looks to be a larger step change in the series. Switching from the traditional engine to the Frostbite Engine. Originally developed by EA Studio DICE for the Battlefield series of games, Frostbite has been adopted across almost all EA's flagship products in recent years: From Battlefield to Star Wars Battlefront, from Need for Speed now to FIFA.
Frostbite powers a truly immersive, story-driven experience that embeds you in football and lets you live through all of the emotions of the sport on and off the pitch.
This engine looks not only to increase the graphical fidelity, but also to allow more flexibility and detail within the game.
The game boasts improved physicality, again in part because of the flexibility of the Frostbite Engine, smarter AI, more attacking options and an 'all-new Set Piece system' to let you have more control over free kicks and so on.
Last year brought around the Premier League more closely into the game - all 22 grounds faithfully recreated and the in-game UI changing to reflect the Premier League branding.
This year the game goes a step further with fully rendered Premier League Managers: Klopp, Guardiola, Mourinho are joined by the other 17 managers in the League - including Alan Pardew's sideline shimmy.
An annual improvement in graphics, tweaks and updated rosters are the norm for the FIFA juggernaut. This year, EA looks to shake things up a bit more by adding a story mode, "The Journey". You play as up and coming rookie Alex Hunter, a player with his choice of Premier League clubs to play for. You handle his performance on and off the pitch: chose your words carefully in post-match interviews, pick the right agent, live the right way and you can be successful. The wrong choices can see your promising career tumble around your ankles.
The last significant departures for FIFA from the core footballing was Career Mode, and the wildly successful Ultimate Team. If the Journey is popular this year, we would like to see it developed further beyond the Premier League and to enhance the traditional Career Mode.
FIFA 17 has big ambitions this year. We will keep an eye on its progress to see if it will live up to the promise.
FIFA 17 will be available on all major platforms on 27. September