The final whistle has been blown. The FIFA franchise, as we know it, is doomed to die a death (of sorts). EA Sports has already confirmed that it will be parting ways with FIFA, the governing body of world football, with EA Sports FC due to be launched next year instead – EA will be breaking out on its own and FIFA will seek new partners in the gaming space.
Before that can come to pass, though, pre-existing contracts seem to dictate that EA and FIFA must share the pitch one last time, with the newly launched FIFA 23 marking the final collaboration between those two giants of the footballing scene. If the final whistle has already blown, then, this last hurrah must be the awkward period of extra time that follows.
Seeing as FIFA 23 is the last FIFA game that EA will make, there's more attention than usual on this year's entry in the decades-long football simulator franchise. Here at RadioTimes.com, we've been playing the game for a little while now, and we're here to bear witness and share our opinions as FIFA 23 brings this era to a close.
To keep the metaphor alive, we'd argue that FIFA 23 is floundering rather than flourishing in this extra-time period, and you can't help but wonder if EA is already looking ahead to next year's rebrand rather than putting all its attention on the here and now.
That's not to say that there aren't changes and improvements here. Women's club teams have been added for the first time, which is no small feat, and the catchily named HyperMotion 2 technology has been deployed (on the next-gen systems only) to add an extra layer of realism to the on-pitch antics.
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Plus, Ted Lasso and FIFA 23 have teamed up, allowing you to play as AFC Richmond in a number of different game modes (there's no story mode to play with them, though). And speaking of game modes, almost all of them (bar Pro Clubs) now support cross-platform play, which will broaden the number of pals you can play with.
That's all well and good, but when it comes down to brass tacks, the overall FIFA 23 experience feels much the same as the last few entries in the franchise. If you like Career Mode, it's still there and slightly tweaked. If you prefer FIFA Ultimate Team, it's still there and slightly tweaked. If you're into Pro Clubs, guess what, it's still there and slightly tweaked.
Of course, this is what we've come to expect from annual sports games in general. A few technical changes get made, the player ratings get updated, and if you're lucky you might see a new viral dance trend like The Griddy being added to the celebration options to prompt a few reactions on social.
To us, it feels like the fandom and the team behind the scenes are watching the clock, keeping the ball moving while they wait for this era to finish so the next one can start. Plus, it doesn't help that the promised FIFA 23 World Cup mode will not be added until nearer the tournament's real-life start date.
All of that being said, when you're actually on the pitch, FIFA 23 does feel pretty darn good on the sticks. The changes to sprinting have made races to the touchline feel a bit more authentic, while the overhaul to power shots (press L1 and R1 to deploy one when you shoot) add an extra bit of drama to your worldie efforts from distance.
This is a very good FIFA game, don't get us wrong. The graphics look great, the changes improve on last year, and the soundtrack is pretty good this time too. But we might've hoped for something a little bit more exciting and original for the final entry in the franchise. Here's looking forward to next year, basically.
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FIFA 23 is out now on PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, Google Stadia and Nintendo Switch. We reviewed on Xbox Series X and S.
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