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Every sports fan is aware of the various titles released by EA Sports.  Fans of football/soccer are also very likely to know the FIFA franchise.  That started life way back in December 1993 with FIFA International Soccer.  A title that launched on the Sega Genesis/Megadrive and looks very different from the recent release of FIFA 23.  This was an isometric view of the action which was very different from the rivals of Sensible Soccer and Kick Off 2. The recent installments give us a setup closer to a live television broadcast.  Now FIFA is pretty much available on every platform, but FIFA 23 is the last in a series spanning close to three decades.

By now most players are aware of the fallout between EA and FIFA, the sport’s governing body. So as of the 2023 release, the game will be known as EA Sports FC.  However, with FIFA 23 being the games swansong, is the 2022 release a fitting send-off, or has the series strayed to one title too far?  It’s a franchise I have played every installment going back to the original 1993 release.  We always have the career mode and quick play tournaments playing seasons with friends.  FIFA Ultimate Team (FUT) is still popular and like recent versions included in the release.  

No story mode is present and hasn’t been since we saw The Journey and the Volta story.  The career mode has been given a slight makeover but nothing too major.  Personally, I feel this mode doesn’t need anything other than the odd tweak.  However, the quick-play mode does offer a significant change. That is the English Women’s Super League and the French Division 1 Arkema.

Graphics

This is probably the best the franchise has looked. The pre-match build-up with the crowd and the presentation of each game and the crowd are impressive. However, this level of polish can be lacking throughout the game. For example, we have some player models who look not as realistic as others.  May only be a small niggle but it’s something that shouldn’t be as obvious. It’s certainly not game-breaking but you expect more polish and for me rightfully so.  Character models can seem at times to have little to no collision detection though thankfully rare.

Gameplay

The area that’s probably hardest to analyze.  After all the sport itself hasn’t really changed much for a couple of years and the most recent change was the introduction of VAR (Video Assistant Referee) in the 2019/20 campaign.  The current season is 2022/23.  Playing a game is very fluid and easy to pick up and play and you can easily alter difficulty settings and gameplay customization for yourself or AI opponent.  There is when you play on the higher difficulty settings the option of a competitor mode which simulates the play styles of the world’s best FIFA players.  There is a new trainer mode that sets gradually a series of challenges that appears more suited to the casual player. However, for a console experience of playing a game of football, it’s probably the best example there is.

New modes are incoming which are both the men’s and women’s World Cup tournaments.  The women’s will be next Summer whilst the men’s takes place this coming Winter. During games, however, they have toned down the arcade feel and sadly goalkeepers do require some tuning.  This could easily be rectified in a patch. For attacking a new feature has been added called the power shot and all set pieces reworked offering a more realistic approach.

Audio

The series always has a strong soundtrack, and the commentary seems to be more consistent.  It’s not unknown in previous entries to get a random quote in-game that doesn’t necessarily fit the current events on the field of play.  So far, in my career mode, I’ve not encountered any of these incidents.  The crowd is on the whole accurate. On the negative side, they can get overly excited for a basic pass, but a defense-splitting ball doesn’t seem to care. The atmosphere is accurately recreated, the famous Kop at Anfield with You’ll Never Walk Alone is one example.

Multiplayer

Multiplayer is what the franchise is most successful in and most famous for. Options for multiplayer include Online Seasons. This is a mini-league where you play a series of matches against a friend. There is also the iconic FUT mode or FIFA Ultimate Team as it’s most commonly known.  There is another mode called Pro Clubs. Here you create a virtual pro and choose a position and line up with other players. You compete against other players to gradually level up your pro.

Story

It wouldn’t be fair to rate this aspect other than say FIFA 23 has no story mode.  Hopefully, we can see some sequel or continuation of The Journey wherever EA takes the franchise next year.   

To Conclude, Is FIFA 23 Worth It

This entry is a worthy addition to the franchise, it’s by no means perfect but it’s as close as we have.  Right now, the only rival is eFootball and that was plagued with issues at launch.  With this final FIFA entry by EA, we have a solid release.  It does as it advertises and works well but at the same time, through no fault of its own, offers nothing groundbreaking.  That can be a problem with sports games, you can’t really go too far from the sport if being a simulation.  In years gone by fans of the sport had two options. These being FIFA and the game eFootball replaced in Pro Evolution Soccer (PES).  FIFA offered a more arcade approach and slowly they started to bring in realism. On the other side, PES was built for the purists at heart.  

Now that rivalry is somewhat missing but when eFootball finds its footing should resume. Where this year’s FIFA is a solid entry, it’s going for more realism in terms of gameplay mechanics.  The way you can shape your set plays from spin and trajectory is more real than in previous years.  I’m enjoying the more realistic approach to the game, however, if you just want a true arcade experience, I suggest you try before you buy.  As a fan of the sport, I naturally recommend the game.  Football games are hard to recommend as they are catered toward fans of the sport.  For casual fans, this is probably not the release for you. For me, I love both the arcade presentation and the more realistic take on the sport.

FIFA 23

$59.99/69.99/99/99
8.5

Graphics

8.5/10

Gameplay

8.0/10

Audio

9.0/10

Multiplayer

8.5/10
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