Since it’s the end of September 2022, you know what that means, folks—FIFA 23. Another year, another round of software updates. But this time, it’ll be EA’s last. *Gasp!* So have they gone all out to warrant another full-price purchase? Or did they drop the ball entirely? Well, let’s find out in today’s review!
Can Football Sims Get Better Than This?
Before the latest FIFA titles drop each year, EA always seems to tout how ‘authentic’ or ‘true to life’ or *insert buzz word here* their games are. Although in this case, I honestly believe they’ve nailed it in several aspects of football simulation. The general feel of the game is as smooth as butter, especially in the dribbling and passing, as the elite midfielders really push this point home. In FIFA 23, each player has one of three different accelerations which determines how they outrun opponents and chase the ball for unique contests, while set-pieces have also been given an overhaul to make curving and positioning players much easier. You can even lie a defender down for free kicks to prevent those cheeky under-the-wall shots. It’s also really cool that certain slide tackles and kicks leave distinct, permanent marks on the pitch. Plus, seeing spectators arrive at the stadium with cinematic effects and detailed close-up animations in tow definitely goes a long way.
The AI makes some rather smart decisions on the regular too. And while there’s still some typical FIFA jank on display here and there, I often found myself getting annoyed at my own poor choices, as opposed to the ridiculous stopped runs or passes that the AI used to make. On Legendary difficulty, the opposition keeper only threw the ball straight back to me on one occasion—which did lead to Bruno Fernandes scoring an absolute cracker—but this was after 8 hours of solid match time. A big improvement over last year, where I’d receive a gift-wrapped goal at least once or twice a game.
Speaking of epic goals, the new power shot technique is amazing. If a striker finds space and time at the top of the box, they can absolutely belt the ball straight into the shadow realm. AKA the top corner. It then shows off this slick-looking Hypermotion replay if a goal’s scored using a power shot, highlighting the probability of the attempt based on the shooter’s location and scenario. This new option is not only mega satisfying to score from, but it also features a great risk and reward setup that doesn’t break the game or make it feel too arcade-like overall. Since you can definitely flub a shot spectacularly if a player is under pressure or doesn’t have high shooting stats. If you’re playing with mystery ball rules however, the goalkeeper will practically have to stop a bullet. Have fun.
The Game Modes of FIFA 23
Now let’s talk about some game modes in FIFA 23. Volta Football, what have they changed?… Nothing, as far as I’ve noticed. They’ve removed those cringeworthy ‘Woah! Look, it’s Thierry Henry!’ cutscenes, but that’s about it. Volta definitely seems like more of an afterthought now. It’s still just the same gameplay of kick-off, copy-pasted into a futsal setting with minor tweaks. While there are some amusing moments of stylish football, attribute power-ups and arcade modes to experience, Volta never quite lives up to the thrills and spills of FIFA Street 2.
Thankfully, Career Mode has made a couple of good changes this year. Alongside some extra transfer cutscenes for good measure, whenever a transfer has been completed, the game will grade it and share some tips on what to look for next in the squad. For those short on time, another new feature lets you jump into a match during sims to play out key moments of the game. There’s also a simpler-looking interface to navigate through and you can even choose between an actual gaffer like Brendan Rodgers or Antonio Conte to use in or outside of their main club. The thing is, certain leagues contain a lot more people to choose from than others and some managers just flat-out do not look like their real-life counterparts. Plus, there’s still no voice-acting for press conferences and meetings as well, which is all quite disappointing. Can you imagine Jurgy doing his trademark “Hahaha! Boom!” right after a cheeky 1-0 win? I would’ve instantly given this game a 10.
Player Career has added in these stat modifiers called player personalities which adjust specific attributes based on how your player behaves. For example, if you decide to hog the ball and go for individual glory, you’ll receive increased stats in finishing and sprint speed. Whereas if you lead by example off the pitch, this will vary the stat scales for boosts in short passing and crossing. It’s a small, yet welcomed change that makes Player Career a tad more engaging. What’s even better is that there’s finally full cross-play support for all current-gen platforms. Yes. While I personally wasn’t able to test out how it ran on PC, PS5, Xbox Series X|S, Stadia and PC owners can all experience a variety of game modes together. Albeit, none of them can be in co-op for some stupid reason. Those on PS4 and Xbox One can only play against each other unfortunately, but at least they still have the option. In regards to what’s new in Ultimate Team… Yeah, I’m not touching that.
Believe it or not, this is the best FIFA gameplay that EA has ever served up. It honestly feels like you’re watching a real match, as players gracefully move and react without much of the jank which has plagued the series in the past. The new power shot technique is also a big highlight, as it opens up a whole risk and reward layer of strategy that is incredibly addictive to pull off. While Volta Football is still a big missed opportunity, the new improvements to Career Mode do provide some extra depth and accessibility to an otherwise stagnant formula. The added cross-play support between current and old-gen platforms is much appreciated. Although, it still hurts that we can’t play Manager Mode online in co-op, let alone with any other game style. But nevertheless, even if you’re an avid FIFA fan or haven’t played the series in years, this is one entry you won’t want to miss.
FIFA 23’s gameplay feels so good to control, as EA has implemented a whole host of touch-ups within the presentation and mechanics for it’s final take on the series. The new inclusions to Career Mode like player personalities, transfer tips and being able to select a real-life manager really go a long way as well. While Volta Football still feels tacked on, the addition of full cross-play support for current and old-gen consoles makes it easier than ever for friends to jump into a match.
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