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a solid, cinematic end to a historic era

llike Death, Taxes and the North London Derby, the sprawling, multi-generational EA Sports FIFA The series comes out every year without exception and usually garners the same anticipation and excitement upon release, regardless of how long it’s been running.

However, this year brings a new dimension to the annual ritual. FIFA 23 marks the final year that the global governing body of football is officially associated with the franchise, that’s right, EA goes it alone, with an eyebrow-raising name change EA Sports FC only 12 months away. Does FIFA 23 live up to the weight of expectation for his final hurrah? In short, yes.

Most gamers will spend a large portion of their time playing Ultimate Team, the standout cornerstone of recent years that has made its way to the top of the series. The trading card giant that gives Pokemon a fight for his money and the format that has been causing jubilation and frustration for some time. This year offers the most immersive and enjoyable experience yet, and the complaints about past titles feel listened to.

Jack Grealish fires a shot as defenders pursue him

Ultimate team one FIFA 23 is the most customizable version yet. The old chemistry system is gone in favor of a complete makeover – while you still have to stick to the general league, country and team contexts, it’s no longer an obstacle to going off the beaten track.

The chemistry level has dropped from 100 to 33, and while it’s still worth bringing together as many players as possible who work well together, having Mbappé up front alongside Harry Kane won’t suddenly make your team feel like Accrington Stanley.

This alone opens up a whole new world of team curation; You can have a La Liga masterpiece with Messi powering up the wing, or a Serie A dream with Haaland at the helm and a towering Neuer between the sticks. Most importantly, it pays to keep the team tight, but you won’t be fully penalized like before and, crucially, players don’t need to be positioned next to each other to build chemistry. It’s as close as you can get to a fantasy team, which is worth celebrating.

The modes within Ultimate Team alone are also extensive. Divisions are back to bring out the rages within you and the other side, while Squad Battles give you the choice to choose your difficulty level – a souped-up play against the computer with a rewards and progression system that makes you feel there, an online league without the stress.

FIFA 23. Photo credit: EA Sports.
FIFA 23. Photo credit: EA Sports.

When it comes to the nuts and bolts FIFA 23, the beautiful game is in its most cinematic form yet. There’s definitely a terrific feel to every game, as the HyperMotion2 system, while messy at times (more on that later), offers world-class playback and feels smooth.

The Power Shot is a fun addition that has your player take a slowed run-up before firing a warhead at the goal (or not, as it takes time to master). It’s a fun addition that adds a bit of character to a new one FIFA Addition and this really comes to life when you play on the next gen.

The haptic feedback when charging a wild power shot offers a new level of immersion. Long through balls, big smashing tackles and even easy passes are felt not only on the pitch but in the palm of your hand; To put it this way, we’re a far cry from FIFA 97 on the N64.

Actually playing the game feels generally solid, and the controls and touch offer a new sense of realism, but the game’s biggest new feature, Hypermotion2, starts to get pretty clunky here. Machine learning and new motion capture means that while animations are generally brilliant, it feels like you’re fighting yourself rather than your opponent when it comes to the actual mechanics.

FIFA 23. Photo credit: EA Sports.
FIFA 23. Photo credit: EA Sports.

Through balls, long passes and even simple actions are sprayed in the wrong direction and for the opponent the jockey system sometimes feels like you have complete control of the other team, but sometimes it feels sluggish.

Unfortunately, the set-piece system has gone from fun and celebratory to technically confusing. Sometimes less is more, and in this case, hitting a world champion with a free kick requires the skills of a nuclear engineer to get it right. In short, it’s a bit much – and other years have been more to the point.

It’s not enough to really detract from the game’s overhauled overall feel, but it’s not quite as smooth as you’d hope. That being said, standard modes like Quickplay and Practice feel great. The career mode is possibly the best ever. An extended journey through a player’s or manager’s career produces skill trees that wouldn’t look out of place in it The Elder Scrolls 5: Skyrim or Cyberpunk 2077 – You really feel like you’re refining your creation at every turn as you progress.

FIFA 23 has banned Russian teams
FIFA 23. Photo credit: EA Sports.

In addition, the brand new Personality Engine allows players to follow a specific path fable but with more substitutions. Different training methods, more off-the-field activities that require you to figure out how to communicate on social media, and deciding what to buy with your hard-earned money mean you’ll accumulate personality points in different areas. Would you like a Diego Costa or a N’Golo Kante? Well, that’s up to you.

Whether you control your player or play as the team they’re a part of, it’s still extremely rewarding to see their name in lights when they get an 8.0 rating. It’s also aimed at the selfish player who gets credit for scoring five goals and not passing.

From the box, FIFA 23 has weight. Included at launch, the Barclays FA Women’s Super League and France D1 Arkema herald a new era of women’s representation in video gaming, with more to come. Both the Men’s and Women’s World Cups will feature playable experiences during tournaments with an update, meaning the game doesn’t just end with purchase, it grows with the year.

Let’s be honest – apart from a few refinements, tweaks and intuitive fixes, there hasn’t been much change from FIFAis gone. But essentially, EA Sports’ FIFA Series is like Match of the Day; It runs like clockwork, you watch it consistently and you will continue to do so even if there have been stylistic changes or moderator changes.

FIFA 23 is the same. It’ll keep you busy for next year, and even though EA’s series is going through a transition period, you’ll keep buying it. A name change won’t stop that and if this is the iteration we have for the next 12 months then we have a lot to celebrate, especially ahead of the away team.

FIFA 23 is out now and available for Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, PS4, PS5, PC and Nintendo Switch. This review was played on PS5.

The judgment

A few criticisms aside, FIFA has rarely felt better. Thanks to the best Ultimate Team yet and the current-gen immersive feel that makes you feel like you’re on the pitch, FIFA 23 is a stylish, expansive final arc for EA’s FIFA series as we know them.

advantages

  • Ultimate Team chemistry overhaul allows for a true fantasy team
  • Power shots and haptic energy bring the fun back
  • Career mode is a sprawling behemoth waiting to be conquered

Disadvantages

  • Hypermotion2 is sometimes more bark than bite
  • Set pieces now require a physics degree and we still have no idea why our striker got past there

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