Tuesday, September 26, 2023

Early Game Review: 'EA Sports FC 24'

The FIFA license may be gone, but the essence of what made the series great remains.

Due out Sept. 29 but available now on early access for those who preordered it, 'EA Sports FC 24' is a capable reboot of the storied soccer franchise, built like a veteran team that's gotten a burst of energy from the addition of a new stud from the transfer market. Like Lionel Messi's Roman spring on Inter Miami, the game has a newfound spring in its step and is ready and willing to assault the back of the net.

On the field, the new animation engine dubbed HyperMotionV is proudly on display. Players react in lifelike ways to the situations they encounter, with bountiful PlayStyles-driven motion capture blended with lifelike physics to create a captivating result of players behaving in distinctive ways rather than following robotically predestined protocols.

The smooth onfield animations and balanced netcode come at a perfect time for the introduction of current-gen crossplay, which will democratize the player base and halt the irritation tradition of siloing that had forever plagued the game in the past. With the exception of the insular Switch title, current-gen gamers will be able to match up in multiplayer modes to swap bragging rights.

Ultimate Team continues to pull the load as the centerpiece fantasy-minded game mode, with cards based on current and former greats to mix and match as you piece together your dream squad. Continuing off the foundation of recent "FIFA" games, female players are integrated seamlessly into the fray. The purposefully equity-minded move shows how the series welcomes fans of the female game with open arms, and makes for some fascinating "what if?" matchups.

The career and franchise modes continue to grow in robustness of feature offerings, letting you live out your dreams a an up-and-coming star or grizzled GM who's trying to squeeze the most out of a club's meager offerings to climb up the ranks toward glory. The silly, street soccer-focused side mode, Volta, also offers smiles and ways to blow off steams for whimsical, trick-focused matchups.

Playing all weekend with my soccer-obsessed 11-year-old, "EA Sports FC 24" gave me loads of laughs along with moments of triumph and despair that the beautiful game tends to disperse in droves. An excellent jump-on point for faded FIFA fans of the past, the game shows that the present and future of video game soccer.

Publisher provided review code.

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