It was a little weird hearing the background noise of the latest Fifa title, eerie almost. I quickly glanced behind me, thinking that the noise was coming from behind. The raucous cheering, however, was the noise of the crowd from FIFA 17, so realistic I almost wasn’t sure whether it was coming from the game or not.
Every year, sports games aim to be more and more realistic, and with every year FIFA inches closer to this reality. With this year’s improvements, it is hard to imagine how much further the game could go.
Take corner kicks and free kicks, for example. In previous FIFA titles, the camera would come back behind the player. From here, the player could aim whereabouts they wanted the ball to go, then hold down the cross button to control the power of the kick.
That is gone.
Instead, gamers can select a player to lock onto during a corner kick, crossing the ball directly to them. No longer do you have to guesstimate where the ball will go, frustratingly coming away from a corner because the game did not read your inputs correctly. The player will have more control than ever. And, although it took a little getting used to, the lack of cuts between gameplay segments ultimately heightened immersion.
In the end, FIFA is FIFA, and many years it is hard to tell the difference between the annual editions. This year, however, there was a notable uptick in immersion. More notably, however, EA added a true singleplayer story mode titled “The Journey” to set this year’s game apart.
The story mode is not just fluff either, there are cut scenes that show off the career of an ambitious young player working up to make it big in the Premier League. When the game starts off, the player is just a sub for Manchester United, getting 20 minutes of play time for the entire soccer game. Presumably, “The Journey” will allow players to work their way up to become a superstar.
Will it be good? Unfortunately, I did not get enough playtime to make a holistic judgement. However, the fact that the developers have implemented features like a dialogue tree, similar to Mass Effect, shows that the developers are taking this mode seriously.
It is difficult to truly judge the mechanics FIFA game off of just a match or two, but I appreciated all the subtle changes the developers added in order to strengthen players’ choice in the game. With a single-player mode that looks like more than just an afterthought, it seems far more certain that this year’s upgrade to FIFA will be a necessity to purchase.