You know it from football: Even the biggest have to go at some point. The end has come for EA Sports' FIFA series, at least under the flag of Electronic Arts, because the publisher can use the naming rights for the recently released FIFA 23 for the last time. After all: You carry one of the longest-running video game series to the grave with drums and trumpets. You know that from football too: you should stop when it's most beautiful.

No one knows exactly how the Electronic Arts football series will continue. What you already know, however, is that it will continue - with licensed content. Only FIFA will no longer be called the series from next year. The framework of rights surrounding the popular football leagues, their clubs and their players is at least complicated, sometimes opaque. Good that you can still postpone it, having to deal with it in more detail.

This year it's simple: it's FIFA 23. And the developers at EA Vancouver have done some serious tweaking to show what's in the sports franchise - and possibly to show fans right now that the future is bright will be.

Hyper Motion 2: Better!

Mere data updates with new squads and some graphics polish - that's how the football game series has been perceived in recent years. There are of course numerous data updates this year, but FIFA 23 is much more than that. There is even a premiere and this reflects a consistent – ​​and long overdue – development in the games industry: not only do more women need it, they also have to to be taken seriously. Electronic Arts packs two complete women's leagues into the game for the first time in FIFA 23. You can let off steam in England and France, German leagues are not there at least this year. That will change with the debut of EA Football.

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The presentation was successful, stadium atmosphere comes up in FIFA 23. Image: Spielpunkt

Overall, FIFA 23 is of course clearly recognizable as an offshoot of the FIFA series. There are no surprises when it comes to the basic game modes. In the menus, the developers belt out sometimes more sometimes less cool songs to the fans. At first glance, little or nothing has changed on the pitch. But that is deceptive. The developers have screwed on the AI ​​for FIFA 23 and installed some optical delicacies. Bent fingers in the goalies may read like a trifle, but it serves the atmosphere enormously.

Significantly more dynamic

In any case, the entire collision query has become noticeably better, often almost to the point. The duels make it more authentic. It becomes more dynamic thanks to Hypermotion 2 technology. Finally, the step towards a better playing feeling on the pitch can also be felt and is no longer just marketing chatter. The animations of the players are better, the physics as well, also that of the ball. That alone makes FIFA 23 feel more rounded than its predecessors.

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The AI ​​learns quickly - this could also prove to be a balancing problem. Picture: Spielpunkt

The effects of machine learning, on the other hand, are likely to pose a challenge, because the defenders, among other things, now get to know their opponents over time. This year, the amounts of data collected are larger, which allows finer adjustments. Artificial intelligence quickly sees through agile tricksters in attack and adapts accordingly. This almost "human" trick feels good. However, it is unclear how this will affect the Ultimate Team mode, because balancing problems already seem to be announced. In the coming weeks and months, it is important to observe whether and to what extent AI changes will actually have an impact.

identity crisis

The contrast between the current installment and the brand's pixel debut in 1993 is extreme: Electronic Arts' football game series perfectly depicts technological advances. Almost 30 years after the first edition, FIFA 23 marks the end of an era. Publisher Electronic Arts says goodbye to the series, but once again there is room for improvement. It was clear that FIFA 23 would do without a story mode - however, the scissors were generally used when starting. The start is much more sober than the predecessor. Instead, there is a somewhat clumsily implemented “training” with either Sam Kerr or Kylian Mbappé. Sure, the soccer women are the center of attention right from the start, but that could have been much more charming.

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The faces of the stars are excellently captured. However, this does not apply to "standard players". Picture: Spielpunkt

In any case, the FIFA series seems to have had an identity problem over the years, despite well-known cover stars and the staging of real footballers. If you think back to the beginnings and the variety of annual star appearances, it is now rather boring: you use the world footballers, messed up Lionel Messi for years, and also use Cristiano Ronaldo and now Mbappé again and again. It was “more colorful” back then: from David Platt to Olaf Thon to Lukas Podolski, the world of football was portrayed – icons were taken to the titles, which were good to excellent, but not always top stars. It's a bit like that with FIFA itself – the game has worn out. 

Fun with a whistle

It's still fun, especially when the game has kicked off. There has never been a better feeling for the ball on the virtual lawn. In addition, there is the return of free kicks and corners. A lot can be done here to artfully carve the ball into the corner or the penalty area. The new power shot is also tough, but the preparation is correspondingly long. Hammering the thing into the box is not that easy, because in the majority of cases the ball simply flies far over or wide of the goal. However, players can now fine-tune the shooting techniques again, because mini-graphics can be used to set where the ball is hit and which trajectory the ball will take. Class! If one of the artistic shots actually ends up in the net, the joy is all the greater. Most of the time, however, you will also score standard goals in FIFA 23, through dangerous passes to the top, power shots from seven meters away or through dribbling through the sixteen-meter box. 

After all: The developers depict what is happening on the lawn. Players slide deep furrows into the green. They remain visible until the end of the game, so that the turf usually looks pretty battered after 90 minutes. Incidentally, FIFA 23 is no longer that simple from the point of view of the attackers, because the defensive AI is quite clever. The computer players help, but they still look old against tricky dribbles. And the particularly fast sprinters also cause some imbalances. Nevertheless: FIFA 23 has clearly gained in simulation character again, with a decelerated game speed. Like that!

Especially in connection with the presentation, there is an atmosphere. Smashing the bar, hitting the post, brutal ball in the net – it all feels powerful. And yes, FIFA 23 is still partly "arcadian", but far less than its predecessors. It seems as if the developers have found the royal road between action football and simulation at the end of the name series. In the Fifa series, the leather and the game feeling have never felt so round again. 

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It's exciting, but FUT is a money grab. Picture: Spielpunkt

Otherwise, the developers have put together an all-round carefree package: training, practice games, tournaments, Pro Club, Ultimate Team, and the controversial desert world championship is also part of the offer, at least in the future. There are new details in career mode, but also the vile social media crap from previous years and the reality show approaches. Away from the stadiums, you don't really warm up to the ideas. On the other hand, the idea of ​​using star coaches as role models, who put their stamp on the game management, is really good, only German fans look a bit in the tube, because only the BVB coach is there. Job on the sidelines, place on the grass - the mode offers options. This even feels consistent and reasonably realistic in the respective game situations. In the career mode, the three character categories with development opportunities in free spirit, discipline or teamwork, which are then changed, among other things, by actions on the pitch, are successful. This makes the career play much more interesting, with small borrowings from real progression in the role.

FIFA Ultimate Team is of course included and a center of FIFA 23. Electronic Arts didn't want to do without the money printing machine for understandable reasons. It's always exciting to open the packages you've received in the hope that a star player is hiding in the virtual piñata. However, this is rarely the case, and it can be correspondingly expensive if you invest real money. The criticism that the mode regularly receives is also understandable.

If you prefer the fast action kick, simply play Volta. The small-sided football mode is also represented this time - and it's fun. The story mode at Volta does not exist again in this year's edition, which is a shame. After all: the clothes are partly so wacky that one likes to present oneself with them. In the end, FIFA 23 isn't the big hit, but a great overall package that is particularly convincing in terms of play when you can actually kick the pill.  

Infobox

Number of players: single player, multiplayer
Age: from 12 years
Difficulty: medium
Long-term motivation: high
Genre: Sports Games
Sub-genre: soccer simulation

Developer: EA Vancouver
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Official Website: Link
Year of publication: 2022
Platforms (Test system): PC, Playstation 4, Playstation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X| S, Nintendo Switch (Legacy Edition)
Language: German
Costs: from 59,99 euros 

 

Summary

The developers have made every effort to bring the FIFA series to a worthy conclusion under the thumb of Electronic Arts. Out with applause, as a football fan would say. FIFA is something like the FC Bayern Munich of football simulations: Never really sexy, but consistently successful. 

FIFA 23 is also a good, sometimes excellent sports game in parts, but overall there are also questionable decisions. Volta has hardly been significantly revised, there are no stories in the whole game. That makes the new FIFA offshoot quite mechanical: somehow click through the menu to get to the next kick-off. From then on, however, FIFA 23 is really fun - the decelerated game concept shows a football that comes relatively close to the real kick. 

And something else is always annoying: the full-bodied promises about the "Faces". More than 700 teams from over 30 leagues - and thus over 19.000 professionals - have been realized. The majority of them, however, only with names. Sure, the stars look terrific and look confusingly similar to their role models. But you don't recognize the mass of players, because the players who are only halfway known in the sports scene are already wearing rudimentary mud faces. 

If Ultimate Team then provides the ultimate pay-2-win stunk, the catastrophe is complete. 

Be that as it may: If you like football simulations on the screen, you will definitely reach for FIFA 23 this year, because the developers prove that they have understood how football has to work. FIFA has never been more realistic and exciting. 

In this spirit: Bye FIFA, hello EA Sports FC! 

Preview Product Rating Price
FIFA 23 Standard Edition PS5 | German FIFA 23 Standard Edition PS5 | German * 52,99 EUR

Last updated on 9.02.2023/XNUMX/XNUMX / Affiliate Links / Images from the Amazon Product Advertising API. * = Affiliate links. Images from Amazon PA API