New year, new football game from EA, but this time with a new name! Electronic Arts and FIFA have failed to reach an agreement on the renewal of their contract, resulting in the game we were used to calling simply "fifa" appearing under a new name. However, apart from this (certainly notable but ultimately minor) fact, this year's version continues to offer the familiar experience and various modes that we've seen in the past, with some positive additions and some long-standing issues that continue to be present this year.
I won't hide from you that my biggest anxiety from the moment the install finished and after I double clicked on the EA Sports FC 24 icon was... if the game would even start! You see, last year's version (i.e. FIFA 23) was the first if I remember correctly to incorporate Electronic Arts' new anti-cheat system and, at least on my computer, the game just didn't work properly most of the time I tried to run it. I had bought the game in the Steam winter sales believing that enough time had passed since launch to patch any issues but what I found in practice was, without exaggeration, that FIFA 23 launched one in five times! Of course I refunded it posthaste. So at least in that respect this year's version didn't have similar issues and ran correctly every time, even if it took a few extra seconds to launch. Progress!
Otherwise, the name may have changed but the content hasn't, at least to a large extent. EA Sports 24 includes all the familiar modes that have now become standard, with the first in line being Ultimate Team which is the golden goose for EA. Also included are a plethora of tournaments and seasons, offline and online, but sadly for another year the best league in the world, the Greek Superleague, is absent. Come on EA, when will we finally be given the opportunity to experience the thrills of a Lamia-Atromitos thriller in your game? Anyway, manager career and player career have received some improvements, the extended tutorials are also present, while the most notable changes I would say are in the menus, which are in my opinion more user-friendly and easy to read, but also in the clearly greater emphasis on women's football, with representation in both competitions and Ultimate Team packs.
but what about the gameplay? With the asterisk that I have no opinion on the gameplay of FIFA 23 due to the technical problems I described above, I would say that EA Sports FC 24 left me largely satisfied with its realism and the fun it offers. The way the players move is more deliberate due to the new physics and animation system, resulting in the momentum of movement having the importance that it does in real football. Consequently, defending requires careful positioning in space and enough restraint to avoid making untimely tackles and leaving gaps in your defensive formation. In general, team play seems to be somewhat more rewarded over individual efforts and continuous special moves, which is undoubtedly a positive thing. The presentation of the matches remains of course at a high standard, although some bugs spoil the otherwise good picture. For example, with the controller I'm using (Steam Controller) certain menus are unresponsive until I open the Steam overlay and close it. Maybe it's a problem with the (admittedly niche) controller I'm using, but either way I had to mention it.
So aside from the enduring issues of the former "FIFA", currently EA Sports FC that we see every year (like the gaps and errors of the AI at certain moments in the matches, the controversial practice of lootboxes in Ultimate Team, the various bugs before the first patches arrive etc.) I would say that the new era of the series is a continuation of the old one, just with a new wrapping. The improvement of the gameplay is welcome, as are the other additions and fixes, but it's clear that for another year we can't talk about a revolution in football games but rather about small steps forward, with a few stumbles here and there. If you buy and play the game every year you don't need my purchase suggestion, it's a given that with so many modes and options you will play until next year and your purchase will have been totally worth it, and if you were 2-3 versions behind I think this year's version is a good time to come back to the series.