FIFA 23 review - a fitting comeback for a fantastic and grotesque period

FIFA 23 review - a fitting comeback for a fantastic and grotesque period

I have a notification. The bottom-right of the screen, says I''ve completed an objective. It ranges from simple scoring scores to more complex tasks like winning scores and using assists from certain teams. It''s also possible to complete an objective after a couple games.

Only, I have completed 26 goals, according to two games and nothing else. Each of these targets includes a dozen or so groups of objectives, and each one is individually selected, once again to see the reward, and again to claim the reward. This is not all! I have 19 items in the store after clearing and claiming rewards for my 26 goals, and so, off I go to them.

The result of my hefty tat on my first two games has been astonished. Green, a card which puts some impressively garish, bright green flags in the crowd, and the club badges for Swindon Town and Chengdu Rongcheng FC (Bronze rare! ); red pitch lines; a True Blue coloured goal net; orange pitch lines; and, my personal favourite, a new club nickname: "The Crabs." The process of completing, receiving,

The resulting sense, at least, is a kind of all-conquering ennui. It''s a Tifo, it''s Gold, it''s the Republic of Ireland flag! Each of these endless pack openings has been honored with a terrible fanfare that I feel like I''ve won the Ballon D''Or itself 19 times over. These dancing, crowd-cheering, and tinsel-drenched extremes quickly turn to displeasure.

We know this by now about Ultimate Team. It has existed for years and it hasn''t changed all that much. This year''s main addition is Moments, which is like playable minutes; the headline series is one that "tells the story of Kylian Mbappe''s stunning career." Mbappe, 23, has yet to win a Ballon D''Or, and has just signed a contract with Qatar, which has boosted him by a 50 percent salary, as well as enhancing his ability to

The red notification dots that keep you looking at your phone, the level-ups, the league-climbing system, the loot boxes, and many more (the preview system is a nice try but does nothing, effectively giving you one free taste every day, but positioning that right next to the blind pack that you can infinitely buy), and don''t forget the actual games themselves, the kind of recurring head-to-head, multiplayer that would be almost painfully moreish as it is, goading you into

Consider how FIFA and Ultimate Team are one of the most expensive service games out there, thanks to its annualization - but also one of the most frequently and unophisticatedly updated. Consider the way the moment-to-moment of a FIFA game - the relentless pop-ups, promotional events, and general razzle dazzle all seem to be aimed at selling you on a game you''ve already purchased, and the reputation of the brand.

The FIFA Ultimate Team''s transfer market is perhaps the most popular among sports executives. Private Discords and subreddits, Facebook groups, and YouTube videos, and ads for third-party websites and apps are all directed at individuals who want to make pseudo-money.

Notice how these spinoff communities - cottage industries - all have the exact form of those that would sell you on the basis of actual day trading: buy my book, take my course, and I''ll teach you how, with just one hour a day, my trading technique acquired me this house, this watch, this Ultimate Beast Mbappe with 99 Pace. Now notice the link between football fandom - talking real football for a second, - and betting; how many betting sponsors on stadium ad boards, or

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All of this, in turn, is gambling. The only thing that makes it not gambling in the eyes of regulators is that you cannot "cash out" the things you''ve gained in the game, and that you can only use it to earn additional rewards. It''s not better than cashing out. It''s not better than cashing out. This is a game mode that is explicitly intended to trigger, if not addiction. An open chastised cynicism.

And breathe. Last night, I played a few casual, online games against Wes Yin-Poole, and it was one of the most enjoyable I''ve ever had gaming in weeks (unrelated to the fact I won). FIFA in its modern form is quite a bit depreciated. Half of this game, depending on how much you''re weighing things by playtime and influence or just the literal number of modes, is effectively a lot of fun. It''s like reviewing a children''s

Both components are as real as each other. Gameplay this year feels, in a word, good. EA Sports'' latest non-trademark is HyperMotion2 Technology, a more advanced form of animation that involves machine learning and fancy motion-capture suits for players. In theory it makes a bit of difference, but also last year''s big thing was HyperMotion Technology, which also used machine learning and fancy suits. And, again, FIFA has always been at its best when it was a little more arcade

Power shots. A new move, holding down the two shoulder buttons, and pressing shoot will let your player wind up exaggeratedly before making an absolutely stunning shot. Most of the time, accuracy can vary greatly, from thunderbolts into the top corner to blocks that look like they should take a defender''s head off and wild lashes that almost hit the corner flag.

The replay clocked the speed of the shot at about 120mph, despite the opponent being barely a foot from the goal line. Lastly, it''s also the hardest I''ve laughed in a while.

There are also other additions, which I truly love. The women''s game now features more than ever before, with the addition of club football in the Women''s Super League and Division 1 Arkema as you expect it to. It''s also well motion-captured, as you''d expect. There''s no downside to the inclusion of Sam Kerr and co here, at the moment, it does take one of us completely closing the game and then restarting it for a cross-platform invite to show up.

Whether it be HyperMotion (I doubt it) or something else behind the scenes, some long-standing disappointments of mine have been seen here. Slide tackling,, feels viable again for the first time in over a decade, but sometimes even. It''s a welcome move, as I''ve seen, but I''ve seen a variety of goals, the ball moves in a variety of ways, and the situations they create vary. I''m certain that the community hivemind will look out to

On the flipside, there are also issues with gameplay. For one, FIFA''s gameplay is actually largely buried, as the whole game is composed of menus as much as matches - certainly in Ultimate Team, but also in Career Mode and beyond. Where, in games like Football Manager, menus are actually gameplay, tasking you with thinking strategically and responding to interesting, emergent challenges in a living environment, things like Career Mode have been largely static for a decade, while I''ve already spent too long on Ultimate

Besides that, some older worries arise. Tactics don''t really get close to reality - it''s not often you''ll see anyone, even the AI, trying to keep you out with a spot of Catenaccio. Even the AI, though always improved on the previous year, can often be dragged deep into their own box, due to a single opposing forward making a run. It''s frustrating. Moreover, these little issues can force you to play something completely different than football in your

If you fix those things, it may take years, or it may simply be enigma to the nature of creating a sports game, when the real thing is perhaps the most complex in the world. And important, what my mind still comes back to is that ridiculous power shot - or rather, my masterly Power Chip - that is really the foundation of Good FIFA.

It''s a strange circumstance, almost feeling like a bug, but in the same way shanking a ball into a lamppost and seeing it go into the top corner is a bug, when you''re knocking it around on the local 4G. The way a mate might struggle to tackle it directly into his own net, or you try a rabona. Football, as FIFA the game and FIFA, is for everyone, and by dint of that it is fundamentally silly, and fundamental

This is where the greatest sport is group therapy, and FIFA is also a kind of communal, primal decompression after being late at work, a Tuesday afternoon with English followed by double Maths. FIFA 23 is still taking on this and still plays enabler to it, and I believe EA Sports'' desire to do this is sincere. But now that FIFA is announcing its messy, conflicted, simultaneously brilliant and grotesque refrehiling of a fantastic, grotesque sport, it''

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