Game Reviews Xbox

FIFA 23 Xbox Series X Review – A Winning Goal

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When it comes to yearly releases of a sports title, those who are not “aficionados” automatically assume from a glance that these releases are just roster updates with minor tweaks to make it look fresh. However, for those like myself who spend countless hours, days, and weeks playing these sports titles especially FIFA this couldn’t be further from the truth.

The FIFA franchise has long since transcended from basic expectations of a football (soccer) title into the mecca of football games. 30 officially licensed leagues, over 19,000 players with full stats, and the UEFA champions league are just some of the key reasons why this is the number one sports game in the world. With that said, let’s walk on the pitch and start this review.

If you’ve ever attended a live football match then you know the atmosphere is electrifying. The support groups are leading the charge with loud chants, the away side supporters are doing the same and the players are feeding off this energy to produce a win. FIFA 23 does an amazing job incorporating all of these real match day elements to replicate the live experience.

Authentic chants, TIFOs, and stadiums provide an immersive gameplay experience. Before every match there’s a beautifully produced cuts scene of your selected team’s stadium, fans entering and players getting on the pitch. Now we have seen this level of detail in previous FIFA releases but developers EA Vancouver and EA Romania have gone to great lengths to get fully rendered images of over 100 stadiums.

Therefore, each one of these cut scenes you are watching from Old Trafford to Red Bull Arena highlight the actual stadiums with accurate sunlight as it hits the pitch to how the sound echoes throughout these massive structures. It’s this level of attention to detail that needs to be appreciated but at times can be overlooked.

While playing FIFA 23 you will notice during replays a splash screen will appear that reads HYPERMOTION. This is the tech used to capture real-life footballer movements. I do find it odd that this splash screen needs to be displayed in almost every replay but regardless the tech is impressive. I traditionally play between 2 camera views, dynamic and classic. I love dynamic because it’s a zoomed-in view of the player with the ball and some of the surrounding players. You need to focus a bit more on the radar for the wing and downfield players but it’s great for seeing player footwork and animations.

FIFA 23 gameplay has been slowed down from FIFA 22 which means you need to be more meticulous while on the ball. I enjoy dribbling and using the right stick to do stepovers, rollbacks, and other trick moves to get out of tight spots to create passing lanes or space to make a run. I noticed a good amount of new player movement animations ranging from new player collisions leading to some pretty nasty-looking tumbles to bypassing a defender and watching him try to turn around and do a slight slip.

It all looks extremely realistic, especially now that the pitch shows signs of wear as the match progresses.  We also have new on-pitch cut-scene for injuries, set piece setups, and the most noticeable corner kick setup. We now have a zoomed-in perspective of the shot instead of the overhead view from previous FIFA titles which I assume was done to accommodate the new gameplay mechanic.

Some key gameplay mechanics have been completely changed. This continues with the corner kick. Gone is the overhead reticle to pinpoint where your shot will go in the box. We now have an overarching line that can be moved up and down using the right stick. Move the right stick down and your shot will go toward the far post, move left or right with the left stick to pick how close you want your shot toward the goal.

I personally had no issues with the previous mechanic but this is a bit easier to execute and more streamlined in regards to the player animation running to pick up the ball, place it in the corner, and stand for his or her shot. It’s a very smooth transition. And yes, this new mechanic also applies to free kicks. We also have a new power shot move which any player can perform by pressing the LB + RB and B while aiming at a goal. This shot as it’s named is a power shot which is great for long-distance shots. When performing the shot, the camera will slightly zoom in on you and there is a 2-second windup which can be blocked but also works as a signal to your opponent that you’re about to do the power shot.

The key is finding enough space and time to perform the move but also in aiming at the goal. I haven’t mastered it yet but from the times I have connected, it does provide some amazing highlight clips. Another major change to the gameplay is in taking PKs. Again, the reticle is gone but now we have this ring around the ball that depending on the shot taker PK stats can move slower or faster as it closes in on the ball. The goal is to press B when the circle is close to the ball.

The 2nd part of this process is to then use the left stick to look left or right. You will see your player’s head move left or right indicating which side you plan to take your shot. Don’t worry about how long you press left or right since that’s not a factor, it’s all about that ring surrounding the ball that determines if the ball is going in the back of the net or the top row in the stands. The one argument is when playing MP, the opponent could also see your head movement so you need to be quick about it and make that shot choice right before kicking the ball.

FIFA 23 is truly the Swiss army knife of football games. Regardless if you’re an experienced or novice player, there is bound to be a mode or match type for you. We now have some of the best Women’s leagues and soon the 2022 World Cup tournament to partake in. I personally live in 2 modes which are VOLTA and Ultimate Team.

VOLTA is fantastic for playing with casuals or in my case with my 6-year-old who enjoys the smaller fast-paced gameplay. Either 3v3,4v4 or 5v5 is one of those modes you can put on and everyone who watches will feel the need to jump in.

Now this year Ultimate Team has received some major changes. The first is the overhaul of team chemistry. Gone are the multi-color lines showing each player’s chemistry with each other and producing an individual chemistry score. It’s now focused on country/region, league, and club. If your player(s) have 1 or all 3 chemistries then it will display via 1- 3 dots in the bottom left corner of the player card.

The reason for the change is to offer more variety to your team builds so you could have Benzema play on a pro-dominantly EPL squad as long as you have a few other French players sprinkled in. Another key game change to UT is the removal of multiple position modifier cards. We now have 1 modifier card and when applied to a player will display the alternate position that the player can play. So, an LW could switch to an LM, etc. You can also view your player’s bio and it will show the alternate position he/she can play.

However, I did notice all my GKs do not have an alternate position. We also have a new mode in “Moments”. When this mode was announced, I was excited because I thought it would be a way to replay key moments of a particular player’s career. And while some of this is present, it turns out that it’s really a bit of a grind fest to obtain the new star currency to unlock packs that are similar to those found in the UT store.

The first player moment is titled “Rise of Mbappé”. Your goal is to complete specific objectives such as completing a few passes, scoring a goal, and getting an assist all as Mbappé. The mode also provides a Mbappé loan card so don’t stress out about having to purchase one in the transfer market. It’s also worth mentioning that you do not use player contracts in this mode.

However, this brings me to the rewards which I feel are lacking. I assume since it’s currently all about Mbappé that if I complete all the tier challenges (which there are plenty) that in the end, I would obtain at least an untradeable Mbappé, maybe a rookie card or some variation. But no, you just obtain more stars to unlock more packs. Now, this is a new mode and as we have seen with others the mode along with rewards can change over time. I just wished that completing Rise of Mbappé would actually produce a Mbappé-related reward.

FIFA 23 delivers in providing the ultimate football game experience available. Hell, we even have Ted Lasso and AFC Richmond. EA also announced a partnership with Marvel to create some beautifully designed Hero UT cards. This is also the last release to have the “FIFA” licensing. Next year’s release will be called EA Sports FC and will still have all the previously mentioned leagues, players, etc. since those are separate license deals. Football is life and regardless of the branding EA along with all the development studios involved continue to produce one hell of a football game.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

This review was written based on a digital review copy of FIFA 23 for the Xbox Series X provided by EA Sports.

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