Each September, as if part of yearly routine, hordes of predominantly males frenzy over the imminent release of the new FIFA video game.
Eighty dollars is withdrawn either from the bank or from confused parents, hype is built through discussions with friends over potential game improvements, and the previous FIFA is ejected from the gaming console. There is a genuine feeling of anticipation.
September 27 this year will see the release of FIFA 17, the 23rd edition of the game first released in 1993. Many Septembers have bred fantastic games and fulfilled expectations. Others have done the opposite. So the question is, this year, should we be excited?
Last year, I found myself disappointed.
This was just another FIFA, boasting only mild improvements that were easily missed. That being said, they did have ‘real sound’, and that is literally everything I’ve ever wanted in a game (hint: sarcasm).
And while this year could very well garner the same hardly improved but highly expensive product, I am hopeful.
From first impressions and advertising (when has advertising ever lied?) Gameplay seems to have improved. EA has introduced a new system that enables constant spatial analysis, essentially changing the way players move, read, and react. For example, whereas players used to pass the ball and then stand there like they’d completed the level, now they will move forward and create an intelligent option to receive the next pass.
There also seem to be greatly revamped attacking options, including entirely new means of finishing.
One such way is the ‘driven finish’, which allows you to keep the ball low in any situation, be it a finesse shot or a volley. You can also now utilise downwards headers.
With all these fancy new attacking options, what could be better than a fancy new assist option? Now, instead of your through balls going to the middle of nowhere or only through to an opposing player, you can use a threaded pass. I can already see how pace is going to be used to exploit this…
The major addition FIFA 17 features is a new mode called ‘The Journey’.
This is essentially Jumpers for Goalposts, the FIFA edition. You will be able to play as Alex Hunter, a rising star in the Premier League. This means you will live, train, and basically do everything exciting an up-and-coming player would do. And it genuinely looks really cool. You can Petr Cech out the trailer:
‘The Journey’ will be enhanced by Frostbite, a leading game engine that should enhance most aspects of the game.
Detail in most areas, be it the tunnels, the pitch, player movements, should all be visibly improved. Essentially, graphics will be the best they ever have by far.
Exciting new features like these have been absent since Ultimate Team, so it’s about time EA got off their bums. If this is anything to judge by, it would appear EA has decided to make this an ‘on’ year, rather than a ‘let’s just make the crowd look more realistic’ year.
Some years it feels like EA have reached a position where it is impossible to progress.
But it always is. Each year should deliver a great, different FIFA, rather than something expensively recycled.
Yet for EA, why would they care? Each year, we will withdraw that 80 bucks and come running right back, improvements or not. We are addicted, trapped in a cycle where we need the annual purchase to remain in the loop. We all know how un-cool it is to play an older version of FIFA, whatever reasons you have for doing so. The game is even designed to prevent you from sticking to one edition and not buying the newer version, with major features like Ultimate Team becoming outdated and unplayable the moment a new FIFA is released.
And let’s not forget how much we love to play with the new stars of the game, the teenagers who had burst onto the international stage in the previous season. As an Arsenal fan, I personally couldn’t wait to play with (insert invisible signing here), or to see how high our young and recently emerged talent Hector Bellerin would be rated.
So ultimately, if FIFA 17 delivers, I will be thrilled. If it doesn’t, I’ll grumble for a bit, before settling into a career mode with few complaints. Whatever the outcome, I’m excited.