FIFA 17 in the test - Vorsprung durch Technik

Author: Benjamin Blum, Heiko Klinge
Date: 2016-09-29 17:27:00
The PC version of FIFA 17 may not be a playful revolution despite many innovations, but at least shows the competitor PES 2017 in the test what a reasonable port should look like.

Germany remains a developing country

Only one thing helps: start a league or managerial career with S04 and finally bring the championship trophy to Gelsenkirchen. This is exactly the greatest strength of the FIFA series this time around - almost every football fan will find their favorite club here and can lead them to the top. From Germany alone there are 36 clubs from the 1st and 2nd league to choose from, a total of over 650 teams and 36 divisions.

EA is hardly making any progress with the licenses. So there are still "only" six German stadiums or strange gaps in the national teams. For example, we miss the European Championship participants Croatia and Iceland, whose football association wanted more than the 15,600 euros offered by Electronic Arts for the license. After all: the »Who!« Of their fans made it into the game.

Even the commentators Wolff Fuss and Frank Buschmann do their part with committed and appropriate announcements - but the information and anecdotes are soon repeated. However, the northern derby also shows an old weakness of the presentation: Especially with medium-sized clubs, there are too few authentic faces. Well-known players such as Kruse or Adler can be recognized, but clone faces cavort across the squad. That costs Bundesliga atmosphere and is all the more annoying when you look at the much more detailed and authentically implemented Premier League in comparison.

Frost bite with weak effect

The switch to the Frostbite graphics engine was widely touted by EA - but in the heat of the football match, the improvements are hardly noticeable. From side camera perspectives like »Tele« we practically don't see any difference, at most a few new animations and more realistic collisions.

Unlike on the consoles, what happens on the PC always remains fluid, regardless of whether we limit the frame rate to 30 or 60 frames per second or deactivate the FPS limit completely. The latter only works in the standard and transmission perspective. If you choose a lower camera setting like the Pro perspective, you will be lured to a stable 30 or 60 images, depending on the hardware, despite the activated »No FPS Limit«. A bit ugly, even if it doesn't have a negative impact on the flow of the game.

One of the few but useful innovations is the revised shielding . The player in possession of the ball extends his arms (moderately) and keeps the defenders at bay without losing speed massively as in the previous season. This control option and the improved collision model make the game a bit more physical overall.

There are also more options when closing the goal: if you hold down the shot button and then tap it again, you deliberately bring the ball flat on the goal - even headers can be pushed towards the ground with it. The standard situations have also been slightly revised. For corners or free kicks, there is now a small target cursor on the floor, which enables more precise crosses.

At the penalty spot, on the other hand, we push the left stick forward, place the shot during the run-up and then pull the trigger - a more logical and intuitive variant than the cursor-timing click of the predecessor.

Fun to save money

The tactics menu is almost identical to FIFA 16. Only when you look very closely do you find differences, for example the possibility of freely positioning players in the line-up. Overall, Electronic Arts is clearly behind in this respect - Konami has meanwhile set standards with its new tactical options.

EA was a bit more committed when working on game modes such as the coaching career. The association's board of directors formulates precise goals there, for example "save 50,000 euros in weekly wages". Such specified cost-cutting measures are not only realistic, they also allow us to act more carefully.

It is completely different with Ultimate Team , which can be played offline and online: Trading cards are bought here, paid for with coins or real money, and a team is built up. New modes such as "FUT Champions" with weekly tournaments are intended to increase motivation and collecting frenzy.

The camps remain divided here: some love Ultimate Team, others criticize it for the (much-used) opportunities for micro-transactions. Our favorite with the online modes is "Pro Clubs" anyway. Here you set up teams with friends in which each participant controls only one kicker, free places are filled by CPU helpers.

The level system is new here: the rating for completed games determines how quickly the virtual professional improves - and not collecting tasks such as "clearing X balls from the penalty area".

Practical: As usual, the PC version of FIFA 17 automatically recognizes which input device we are using, so that we can operate the menus almost entirely with the mouse and simply switch to the gamepad in the match. Our online trial matches went just as smoothly. Suitable opponents were usually found within seconds, all games were spared lags or even disconnections. Here, too, the PC version of PES 2017 can take a thick slice of FIFA 17.

Travel with obstacles

With "The Journey" EA dares a real story mode - and we are positively surprised by the staging: The first year of Alex Hunter, a 17-year-old football talent from London, is staged with television-ready cutscenes .

The pictures, the direction and, above all, the English setting are convincing (there are German subtitles). The script is a bit weaker: the characters are partly laden with clichés and some twists and turns are all too predictable.

Above all, we have virtually no influence on the story: We are allowed to choose our Premier League club, but that is followed by a tight story thread . The playful part can also be expanded: On the pitch, you either control the whole team to put Alex in the limelight, or you act completely from his perspective.

You have to like the latter in particular, but it works well - basically the sequences play out in exactly the same way as the solo career that has been established for years but has so far been rather dry. We find the sporting and tactical inconsistencies in »The Journey« a shame.

So the tasks before the matches were put together in contradicting ways: First we should give templates as strikers, later we should score goals as midfielders. We still hope for a sequel - the production has enough potential.