This year’s obligatory FIFA release is more worthy for attention than any in recent memory. That’s important for me, as I have not purchased a FIFA game since 2013. Simply put, they rarely do enough every year to justify a purchase. They update the graphics slightly, tweak the gameplay slightly and slap the latest footballing superstar on the cover and then release it into the wild. It’s not enough for me to shell out £50. Every year, I play the demo, each time all reaffirming my position.
FIFA 17’s demo is still so very familiar:
- Roster of fully licensed teams? Check.
- Mocap from real professionals? Check.
- Licensed commentary from Martin Tyler and chums? Check.
- Alarmingly well rendered face of Wayne Rooney and his new hairline? Check.
There are some differences though. This years game is running on the Frostbite engine, the same one used to power Battlefield and FIFA has never looked healthier for it. Bright, smooth animations give players a sense of weight allowing them to move and react to each other’s presence in very believable ways. So far, just a slight fancier update than the usual.
Then, you look at this year’s marquee signing.
“The Journey” is a single player story mode where you assume the identity of a young, up and coming star and his rise to one of the world’s elite footballers. You play Alex Hunter, the quintessential (he would have a potential rating of 200 in Football Manager) youngster and guide his on and off the field decisions. 2K have done this style of story mode once before in NBA 2K16 and while the basketball game took the first brave steps into the concept, it was lacking in refinement. The Journey feels like EA have worked out the formula, even in the short amount of time you have with Alex Hunter in the demo.
The new tweaks to the football of FIFA 17 are also interesting. A new set-piece creator enables you to choose how a player receives the ball. Be it a long far post cross to the giant centre-back or a near post drill for a first time Sheringham volley. It is a little ambiguous however, yet with a little practice became very effective.
EA also are championing something called “Active Intelligence System” in which the AI is constantly monitoring its special awareness and the way AI players react and make runs. FIFA’s singleplayer AI used to get lots of negative feedback however, the fact that I didn’t notice any AI failings is a sign that it’s working as intended. Nothing the AI did felt unnatural during my playtime.
Passing can feel a little difficult to be precise with the analogue stick. A fair few times I wanted to pass to one player and it ended up at another’s feet because they were closer. “Be more precise then!” I hear you roar, but it is difficult and is the area that needs the most improvement. Shooting on the other hand feels lovely. Thunderbolt shots have a weight and true thump about them and feel wonderful when they crack against the bar.
For years I have been begging for a game to have the same feel as Guy Ritchie’s first person Nike Advert “Take It To The Next Level”. Nothing has ever excited me more than the concept of a video game showing the experiences of real life footballer has. Being discovered, getting an agent, dealing with the press, the money, getting transferred all of these things seem to be present in The Journey the demo version was very enjoyable and I cannot wait to experience it fully.
I’ve never spent considerable time with a collectible card game, I tried Hearthstone earlier this year after seeing everyone rave about it for so long, and I didn’t get the attraction. I’m not going to proclaim that The Elder Scrolls: Legends, the new CCG set in the Scrolls universe is going to keep me playing for months on end, but it looks fun, to a newcomer at least.
January 1951, the world is in flames and has been in a state of near constant war and I have dropped more Nuke’s than I would like to admit. I think back to the early months of my adventure with Italy in Hearts of Iron IV, and I can’t help but wonder what might have been if I had made some different choices. …
Let me first preface this piece by explaining my background with flight simulators. I played Microsoft Flight Simulator ’98 back in the day, I had an absolute blast…but wasn’t actually any good at flying the planes. Since then, my flying experience has mainly come from the Battlefield games, along with a dabble in things like Tom Clancy’s HAWX. What does that all mean? If you are a die-hard flight simulator fan, this isn’t the article for you as I won’t be talking about how accurate the plane models are or other details like that, but please feel free to laugh at my flying “skills” in the videos! …
The Division, it’s no longer such a new game now, and I imagine that most people who play it have long since reached the level cap and are in the ‘End Game’. Me? I’ve played about 24 hours’ worth, am at level 21 and just over halfway through the story missions. I might as well share some thoughts on how I’m getting on… …
Distance is a game that frustrates me, not because I don’t like it or because it’s not a good game, but because I’m just not skilled enough to play it and therein lies the biggest problem I have with what should be a really enjoyable and fast paced arcade style racer. If it wasn’t for the fact that the rest of the game was so good I probably wouldn’t even mention it and off paper I’d put it down to bad design or lack of effort on my part. But the truth is that it’s well designed, fun to play, smooth running, has a great soundtrack and an increasing fan base that have already created thousands of custom maps to play on. It’s just a shame that this one mechanic slows all that down for me in such a way that I simply cannot compete with other racers in multiplayer and sometimes not even complete full race tracks at all.
If you want to see what Distance is all about for yourself, click on the video below.
With no solid release date set as yet, developers Refract hope to release some time in the first quarter of 2016. Distance can be purchased on Steam or via the official website for PC with other platforms to follow.
In something of a surprise, even to myself, I found that I was playing The Division briefly on the weekend. I was surprised, because I truly didn’t expect that I would be playing any, or many, of the AAA releases of the past week or so until the autumn at the earliest. But I spied The Division on Steam, and I just couldn’t help myself. I had to get a taste of what this possible Destiny beater was all about and squeezed in about an hour with the game, and took in the sights and sounds of Brooklyn. …