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FIFA 23 Review

Farewell FIFA

Given that FIFA 23 is EA’s last outing with the FIFA branding and that the games tend to change somewhat after launch, I wanted to make sure that I did the title justice. My goal was to aim for the World Cup – arguably the biggest sporting event on the planet and the addition of FIFA 23’s World Cup mode (although, the less said about the Qatar World Cup the better). Let’s be honest though, the majority of people who buy FIFA do so regardless of what the reviews say, so a review landing this late is more for those who might be riding a World Cup wave and are deciding whether to jump on board. The good news is that EA’s FIFA swansong sees the series end its 30-year partnership on a high.

The question I get asked every year is, “How much has it changed from last year?” The thing is, FIFA games are like Nickelback albums. Sure there are some subtle changes with every new release but the foundations are the same – you know what you’re in for when you make the purchase.

Gameplay in FIFA 23 has been refined and this time around is a much slower affair, with EA’s new HyperMotion 2 Technology providing players with a more realistic experience on the pitch. Passing feels great, even if the occasional pass does go wayward, and nailing a delicious through ball for a striker to run onto feels better than ever. Dribbling has a natural feel to it, with players skipping past or avoiding defenders as if it’s a real match, while defending feels robust with tackling particularly satisfying. However, despite the game’s attempt at stifling the impact of players blessed with pace, it still can be a killer.

Kicking goals with HyperMotion 2 

Shooting has been improved, and power shots are now a thing, which if a player is given enough space can be lethal for the opposition. Executed by pushing the left and right bumpers, a slow-motion camera is deployed as your player attempts to kick the skin off the ball and into the net, and it’s something that is felt in the PS5 DualSense controller’s haptic feedback. In fact, the haptics all around feel great and add a nice layer of immersion to the proceedings.

Where the shine does come off somewhat is in the game’s animations and AI. Players often run into or trip over one another, and while it’s quite comical seeing players flail and flip over each other, it can be frustrating when you’re on the cusp of pulling off a sexy play only for two players to collide. Even if the animations do play funny buggers now and again, the visuals are top-notch, with superstars, stadiums and match-day experiences all recreated with lifelike authenticity and minute detail.

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Set pieces have been revamped, with corners and penalties having the most significant changes. Previously, penalties would require players to aim while giving the kick the right amount of power, now it’s a QTE-style mechanic where players attempt to push kick as the indicator goes green while also aiming. The better a player’s penalty kick stats are, the easier it is to hit the back of the onion bag. Corners now have a similar feel to free kicks, with players able to utilise the right thumbstick to give the kick a little extra spin or curve. Free kicks once again still feel too confusing to learn and it’s been years since I’ve been able to put them up in the top corner where the spiders live from a dead ball, and no amount of practice in the training mode can turn me into James Ward-Prowse. I hope that in future iterations set pieces are simplified for more fun factor.

Set pieces have become a little complex

FIFA 23’s menu is largely made up of the same courses you’ve been dining on for years. Career Mode, which is where you can prove your worth as a manager or player is always a blast, though I much prefer pulling the strings from the touchline and bringing teams from the lower echelons up to the big leagues. This season’s project was Shrewsbury Town, a club I have a soft spot for after FIFA 08, and while I haven’t managed to play through a full season as of yet, it’s fair to say that I am doing a better job than the team’s current manager Steve Cotterill – although you can choose to play with a selection of real managers should you prefer. Or take AFC Richmond to the promised land. It’s up to you.

Volta, the game’s street football outing, makes a return and is still fun if you want to stretch your legs on the streets, while Pro Clubs, Seasons and Tournaments are all present, but the World Cup mode will get a lot of use this time around. Although it’s not as deep as EA’s dedicated World Cup games of the past, it’s still an authentic experience for those wanting to take their chosen nation the ultimate sporting glory.

Of all modes, it’s the crowd favourite Ultimate Team that has received a few notable changes with the mode’s chemistry system being refined and a new single-player mode called Moments, where players can re-live real events that have occurred to earn Stars, a new currency. Like every review, if you’re wanting thoughts on EA’s cash cow, I’m not your guy. It’s a money-hungry mode that exposes the dark and predatory side of video games, and I can’t endorse it. However, if you’re a regular FUT player, I’m sure you’ll be satisfied with what’s on offer.

Barca fans look away

The bulk of my time however, is usually spent playing online friendlies against mates, cycling through teams ranging from five stars down to one. If there’s one thing I hate about playing FIFA online, it’s the lack of bravery in team selection. Everyone plays with the same five or six teams, chock-full of star power, with too few having the balls to dive into the lower leagues and have a bit of fun. One area that EA should be praised for is the addition of more female teams, which is a huge boost and further recognition of the talented females that play the sport.

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Final Thoughts

FIFA 23 doesn’t reinvent the wheel by any stretch, but the majority of gameplay improvements are welcome and make it a realistic experience, although you could argue that the set pieces have become too complex. The addition of a World Cup mode and more female league teams give players more ways to play, but sadly, EA shows no signs of pulling back on the monetisation that fuels Ultimate Team. Regardless, you’ve played this before – it’s FIFA, which is all that most people want.

Reviewed on PS5 // Review code supplied by publisher

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FIFA 23 Review
HyperMotion Magic
FIFA 23 signs off on EA and FIFA’s partnership with another solid entry that brings the gameplay experience closer to the real thing, but it’s once again sullied by its Ultimate Team monetisation.
The Good
Moment-to-moment gameplay is excellent thanks to HyperMotion 2
Haptic feedback is well utilised
Looks as good as ever
Increase in female representation
Neat little improvements to Career Mode
The Bad
Set pieces have become a little complex
Ultimate Team's monetisation is still abhorrent
8.5
Get Around It
  • EA
  • EA
  • PS5 / PS4 / Xbox Series X|S / Xbox One / PC
  • September 30, 2022

FIFA 23 Review
HyperMotion Magic
FIFA 23 signs off on EA and FIFA’s partnership with another solid entry that brings the gameplay experience closer to the real thing, but it’s once again sullied by its Ultimate Team monetisation.
The Good
Moment-to-moment gameplay is excellent thanks to HyperMotion 2
Haptic feedback is well utilised
Looks as good as ever
Increase in female representation
Neat little improvements to Career Mode
The Bad
Set pieces have become a little complex
Ultimate Team’s monetisation is still abhorrent
8.5
Get Around It
Written By Zach Jackson

Despite a childhood playing survival horrors, point and clicks and beat ’em ups, these days Zach tries to convince people that Homefront: The Revolution is a good game while pining for a sequel to The Order: 1886 and a live-action Treasure Planet film. Carlton, Burnley FC & SJ Sharks fan. Get around him on Twitter @tightinthejorts

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