FIRST PLAY // FIFA 17

New football season? That means new Fifa. And while I’m not the world’s biggest football fan – there’s just something therapeutic about a sofa-bound button bashing sesh with the world’s most popular soccer sim.

Fifa 17 has already been breaking records. Its first week sales outdid last year’s effort by a whopping 18%. Not bad for a game series that debuted waaaaaay back in 1993.

So, what’s new? Over the last month I’ve been getting to grips with the ins and outs of the latest iteration.

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. 

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It’s hardly a surprise that a lot of Fifa 17’s gameplay changes are largely tweaks rather than wholesale changes. It’s why I only tend to invest every couple of years. Well, that and the fact I can’t remember the PIN for the joint account.

The Frostbite engine has allowed a whole bunch of subtle stuff to be gently refined. Better physics, more realistic reactions and more fluid link-up play being the main benefactors.

My favourite new weapon? The threaded through-ball. All you have to do is hit the right bumper as you play the pass to finesse it into the space beyond the last man with a bit of curl. Sweet as a nut.

Alex Hunter has arrived.screen-shot-2016-11-03-at-23-08-58

Frostbite also powers the immersive new story mode where it’s down to you to guide Alex Hunter on his journey from trialist to Premier League legend.

It’s an interesting new addition that breathes a bit of life into a format that could’ve started to tire. In fact, it’s probably where I’ve racked up most of my game time.

My only real qualm with it is the inability to skip some of the slightly more boring cut scenes. I mean, Harry Kane may have a magnificent scoring record – and the finest chin in the Premier League – but he can’t act for toffee.

Bad losers are still rife.

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Playing online is still a test of patience. One minute I’m dutifully getting my arse whooped by some 10 year old kid who is up way past his bed time. The next? 2-0 up and stroking the ball around the park masterfully, only to be ‘disconnected’ from the other player. In short – the rage-quit culture is still going strong.

Next stop FUT

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I haven’t delved into the Ultimate Team mode yet. It’s the kind of thing I’ll dedicate some time to when I’m at a real loose end. Like when I’m recovering from my yearly dose of whichever super cold has struck me down. Mark it down as a to-be-continued.

My first month verdict:

8/10

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