Every September one of the biggest and fiercest rivalries in football takes place. No, I’m not talking about El Classico, Derby della Madonnina, or even The Old Firm, no, this isn’t actually a rivalry of football clubs. I am, of course, referring to the yearly battle between EA Sports’ FIFA and Konami’s Pro Evolution Soccer. Every year fans of the respective franchises take to the battlefield we know as the internet and try to prove their beloved game deserves to be crowned champion. For years FIFA has won that battle hands down. The last console generation wasn’t a great time for PES fans, but has the power started to shift back to Pro Evo? Or is FIFA still at the top of the league? We will be looking at both instalments and score both games on the following five categories: Graphics, Sound, Features, Licences, and most importantly, Gameplay.
This is a hard one because both games look great. PES has been using the Fox Engine since 2014, and this year one of FIFA’s newest features was that the game would be using Dice’s Frostbite engine. Using the Frostbite engine has made a huge difference to FIFA’s overall look and presentation. Alec had this to say in his review of FIFA:
the change heralding a great leap forward for FIFA’s graphics that places it close to the level of NBA and Madden. Player likenesses are better than ever
This is true, FIFA looks gorgeous. You really see just how good it looks when you are playing with two of the bigger teams, as generally all the players will have their real life likenesses rather than generic models. Playing with Arsenal against Manchester United under the floodlights in the rain at the Emirates is truly an awe-inspiring experience.
PES still looks great in using the Fox Engine, and I have to say that generally the character models do look better than FIFA’s, but this really only matters on close-ups and replays. The character models do have this weird shine to them though, which does make them look a bit plastic at times. I’m not really sure if this is Konami’s attempt at making the players sweat, and if it is then it fails miserably compared to FIFA.
A close one to call on this, but I am going to give FIFA the edge, the use of the Frostbite engine really has made FIFA look as close to the real thing as any football game ever has.
PES for the most part still doesn’t sound great. The commentary, while improved from last year, is still rather lacklustre. Peter Drury and Jim Beglin are mostly calm during a match and then start shouting and getting excited by the simplest of actions. FIFA’s commentary does need to update some of the lines, I have heard ‘the ball deserved better’ for far too long now, and too frequently. The soundtrack, again, is going FIFA’s way, with a great selection of tunes to listen to while in the menus. PES’ soundtrack isn’t bad, there is just a short number of songs compared to FIFA.
In terms of in-game sounds, FIFA again has a large number of chants for most of the teams in the game, and the Premier League and Bundesliga both have authentic pre-match sounds. PES has one big trump card when it comes to pre-match sounds over FIFA, and that is, of course, the official Champions League theme.
Overall, again much like the graphics, there really isn’t much in this, but I am going to give it to FIFA again.
PES hasn’t really added much to the features of the game. You still have Master League which is their version of Manager Mode. The more streamlined menu is back from last year which is great, making it much easier to get to the most important parts, i.e., team tactics. For the first time ever in PES we have a feature that has been in FIFA for a couple of years now. Here’s what Stephen said in his PES review:
The most notable addition to the mode is transfer deadline day. For the first time ever in PES, you can now sign and sell players on the last day of the transfer window. When you enter August 31st…
FIFA this year has “The Journey”, a Mass Effect styled story mode where you take control of fictional football player Alex Hunter and take him from a trial day at St. George’s (the home of the FA) to the FA Cup final. When I first heard about this, I have to admit I laughed and did not think it was a great idea. The more I saw of it though, the more I was intrigued, and then when I played it, I became obsessed. It is a bit cheesy, but it is thoroughly entertaining and a welcome edition.
A hat-trick of wins for FIFA. “The Journey” is fantastic, and the added ‘club objectives’ in career mode are taking it towards a Football Manager level of authenticity.
Poor PES, the main reason why many people (including me up until last year) stay away. As an outsider I could not get excited about playing ‘Manchester Red’ or ‘Merseyside Blue’. This year, albeit with a handful of impressive partnerships, is even worse off than last year. PES has lost Spain’s La Liga, apart from FC Barcelona, which is PES’ main partnership. This was seen as something as a coup for PES, getting this Partnership right under EA’s nose, because of this Barca’s Camp Nou is no longer in FIFA. FIFA will always win the License war, and a missing Camp Nou won’t be bothering many people.
Now we get to the most important part of both games, the actual gameplay. FIFA have tried to improve the gameplay from last year’s effort, and they have done so too. They have attempted to slow down the gameplay, but it doesn’t seem much different from last year’s outing to me. Passing has somewhat improved, but I am still left screaming at my TV when I attempt to pass to a player near me, only for the game to decide to pass it to an opposition player. There are a few new animations which look great, especially the new shooting ones. Also, the ability to move your player while taking a free kick is great and can lead to some truly incredible goals. The least said about the new penalty system, the better, really. It is bad, very bad. Overall, FIFA’s gameplay is okay with flashes of brilliance.
PES on the other hand, this is where its strength lies. PES 2017 has the best gameplay I have ever played in a football game. Last year’s effort was great, but the goalkeepers were very weak. This has been resolved in PES 2017, and now we are left with the most authentic game of football on a gaming console. Everything from the passing, shooting, and tackling is perfect. In PES you can really see and tell the difference between different teams as well. Generally in FIFA, predominantly every team plays the same way. In PES though, you really see the difference. Play against Barcelona and you will hardly touch the ball. Play against Liverpool and you’ll have to deal with Jurgen Klopp’s ‘heavy metal football’. This also is the case with players. Good FIFA players could make James Milner play like Ronaldo, not in PES though. What this achieves is when you make a substitution, you can actually change the game.
PES wins this hands down, and for most people this will be the most important category. If you would like a footballing comparison, then FIFA is Mario Balotelli: It has flashes of brilliance, but most of the time it just falls short. PES is Mesut Ozil: It may not be flashy, but it is solid and consistent.
So FIFA may win this overall, but I cannot stress enough how good PES 2017′s gameplay is. If you cannot get past the lack of licenses and are a PS4 user, then the good news is you can download all the authentic kits and badges for the clubs. It is really easy and takes about 10 minutes.
If you are looking for my opinion on which game to buy, then for the first time in years, maybe ever, then I would recommend both.
FIFA has all the bells and whistles that fans of the series are used to, and the inclusion of “The Journey” is refreshing and welcomed.
PES, gameplay-wise, is the greatest football game of all time.