Star Rating:


Platforms: PC, Xbox One, Xbox Series XS, PS4, PS5, Nintendo Switch

Release Date: Friday 30th September 2022

Play Modes: Single Player, Local Multiplayer, Online Multiplayer, Online Co-Operative Play

'FIFA' has been accused by fans and critics alike for being the same old rehash year after year, but for the final 'FIFA' game under the old name, EA has pulled out all the stops.

The burning question with 'FIFA' every year is how different is it from last years, and whether is it worth the money, and we can assuredly say yes, this year's 'FIFA' is worth the price of admission.

This will not be an expensive mistake you regret like Harry Maguire.

The 'FIFA' formula has been relatively the same for the last 10 years or so, with the last major gameplay improvement being the addition of 360-degree dribbling in 'FIFA 10', and for 'FIFA 23', the game plays the best it has for years.

The secret to success this year is taking a page from the 'Pro Evolution Soccer' book in terms of gameplay, which means slowing it down and feeling more like the real sport.

Gameplay in 'FIFA 23' is more akin to vintage 'Pro Evolution Soccer' where slow, thoughtful play is the order of the day, and if you know your football game history, you will be aware this is the key ingredient in any good football game.

This tinkering with the formula is akin to Andrea Pirlo's late career renaissance at Juventus - something that was already great becomes even better.

Mind you, some of the typical 'FIFA' problems still remain; despite EA's claims to the contrary, most every match has some last-minute drama in a way that makes you think it's scripted, the commentator's lines tend to repeat or sound somewhat robotic and some of the crowd animations are rather suspect.

The other big change to the 'FIFA' formula this year is replicating the matchday experience you see every weekend, and by and large, it passes with flying colours.

The pre-match atmosphere of fans milling around, the build-up music, the flashy graphics and the spotlight on certain players helps sell the virtual matchday experience.

All these small elements help make 'FIFA 23' seem bigger and more expansive than ever before, and there's a thrill to hearing the Champions League music swell as you lead your team out to do battle with Real Madrid.

Star power

The cover star for this year, Kylian Mbappé, has received the most love and care from the team at EA, which might explain why the further down the ladder you go, the dodgier the likenesses become.

Fans have been quick to point out that 'eFootball' still very much exists and has the rights to certain players likenesses, and it does detract from the experience when the camera cuts to Mikel Arteta on the sideline and he looks like someone trying to create him in an RPG character creator with 90% of the sliders missing.

It is a bit distracting that certain players look incredibly vivid and lifelike, or indeed have special animations that correspond to their real life moves, but when you play as the Irish national team for example, the same level of detail isn't afforded.

EA has made a big point that they have animated an incredible amount of motion capture for player movements, which helps sell the real life physicality of football, so Real Madrid man Vinicius Junior runs just like he does on the pitch.

Playing with Erling Haaland is a joy, and the game captures the animalistic nature of the Man City striker perfectly.

EA hoped that by giving enough care and detail to the biggest stars that would be enough, but considering how the game sells itself on being the ultimate football experience, it's a shame that this level of care and detail wasn't afforded to every player and team, and not just those with the biggest Instagram followings.

The addition of women's football has been widely welcomed, but in a word, the addition feels somewhat half-baked.

Most annoyingly for Irish readers, our womens national team is nowhere to be found in the game, and considering how high-flying our team is at the moment, it's a massive shame they aren't playable in the game.

The big teams like England, Brazil and Germany are in there, which is the absolute bare minimum we'd expect, but this seems like a major oversight considering the male counterparts are present and accounted for.

We're not sure if there was a rights issue or an agreement couldn't be reached, but considering the heroics of Vera Pauw's team in recent months, it's a huge missed opportunity.

The Women's Super League is accounted for thankfully, and are even playable in career mode, and we hope this lays the groundwork for more to come in future installments.

The women's football mode is more in-depth this year

At time of launch, the World Cup mode isn't available in the game, but we expect to be added to the game as we get closer to the tournament in Qatar this November.

In fact, the promise of more content is EA's trick to keep you coming back, and 'FIFA' has been incredibly successful at this over the years.

The highlight of the game is a new mode called "moments" where you can play certain moments in the career of a manager or a player, and this helps earn points for your Ultimate Team.

At time of launch, players can play through moments in Mbappé's career or the managerial career of Jurgen Klopp, and this game mode has infinite potential.

Who doesn't want to play the biggest moments of Ronaldinho's career, or relive Robbie Keane in his prime as he's banging in the goals for Spurs?

This mode is an ingenious addition to the game, and it's a surprise this hasn't been implemented before now.

The "moments" mode is a brilliant addition

We wish it wasn't tied to the Ultimate Team mode, in fact, the idea has such strong potential it could be a game mode all by itself.

Based on the small sample we've played of career mode, the game has added some pseudo-RPG elements such as buying expensive houses or hiring a personal cook, but from what we can see, this doesn't translate into anything major gameplay wise.

The game has added certain dynamics that you can choose to play as, similar to a class in an RPG.

Players can choose to play as the Maverick, a flashy show-off like Ibrahimovic, a Virtuoso like De Byrune, or a Heartbeat like Kante.

These elements aren't really as fleshed out as we like, but there is potential for these mechanics to grow, and we honestly cannot fault EA for willing to mess around with a winning formula.

The Last Dance

'FIFA 23' will be the final game under the traditional 'FIFA' name, with the game becoming 'EA Sports FC' from next year, and it is clear that EA have put out all the stops to make this the defining entry in the franchise.

The 2010s were an up-and-down decade for the franchise, with the series becoming a bit too complacent after the demise of 'Pro Evolution Soccer'.

The Ultimate Team mode was such a moneymaker for EA it felt it could get away with doing the absolute bare minimum each year and still charge full price, but we are pleased to report that this year, the game is an essential addition to your gaming collection.

At its best, the game somehow manages to capture the magic of the best 'FIFA' games of the past.

'FIFA 11' is the last objectively great game in the series, and over a decade later, 'FIFA' has found that title-winning form that helped it conquer the world to begin with.

Even in the areas where the game falls short, it was not for lack of effort.

We have been reassured that 'EA Sports FC' will keep the 'FIFA' formula we know and love, but for all intents and purposes, this will be the final 'FIFA' game as we know it.

Players often have a late career renaissance like Miroslav Klose or Jamie Vardy, and 'FIFA' is no different.

EA put in the effort this year, and true to their word, they have made 'FIFA 23' the ultimate 'FIFA' game - warts and all.