It’s often claimed that yearly sports games are no more than simple roster updates. Why would you pay for the same game again when it looks exactly the same as last year? Die hard sports games fans know this isn’t the case most years, but it’s more apparent this year with FIFA 17. The transition to the Frostbite engine, the same foundation used in Star Wars Battlefront and the recent Battlefield instalments, has been implemented and it shows; FIFA 17 looks absolutely gorgeous this time around. From the new lighting effects to the facial animations on players, I’d go as far as to say this is the best looking football game of all time – despite PES 2017 upping the game considerably as well (read our review here).
The Journey is the other huge addition to FIFA 17: the story of Alex Hunter as he and his boyhood friend Gareth Walker make the progression from schoolkids through to Premier League starters. It starts off with the pair at around 10 years old, playing a match for their school while Alex’s family look on then you’re given control of Alex to score the winning penalty at the end of the game. It jumps forward to present day where they’re both 17, having an exit trial at an academy then being offered contracts at Premier League clubs of your choice. Without spoiling the rest, it lasts for one full season, including a few pre-season games.
It feels like so much more could’ve been done with Alex’s story. Playing in games each year, or at each notable age as he goes from primary to secondary school, to college and then to the academy. By the end of The Journey, Alex is still just a boy and it doesn’t feel much like he has reached the end at all. Inspirations from Marcus Rashford’s current career seem prevalent, and as we all know he is nowhere near the end of his career – he’s shaping up to be the best English talent football has seen for years. Taking Alex Hunter through the ranks, to eventually winning the Ballon D’or and World Cup with England would be a fitting route for The Journey to go down but it falls a little flat ending after just one season. Especially since the only ‘reward’ at the end is Hunter’s card for the Ultimate Team mode and a few loan cards.