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PES V FIFA: Battle Of The Football Sims

Neil Davey
EA, Features, Fifa, football, Konami, PES, Pro Evolution Soccer, Sports Games

PES V FIFA: Battle Of The Football Sims

Ask a football fan who they support and you'll get one of several hundred answers. Ask a console-owning football fan who they support and, yes, you'll also get one of several hundred answers.

Ask them which football sim they prefer though and the field narrows substantially. To two: Konami's Pro-Evolution Soccer or EA Sport's FIFA.

Rivalry between the factions can be more passionate than Liverpool Vs Everton, Spurs Vs Arsenal, or United Vs City - only with less violence and considerably fewer scarves. FIFA fans used to rave about the silky smooth gameplay, the accurate graphics, the skills and flourishes. PES fans used to rave about the grittiness, the grinding out of results, the depth of realism...

PES V FIFA: Battle Of The Football Sims

However, in recent years, the lines have blurred somewhat. For a few years, Pro-Evo was THE footie sim of choice, a universally acclaimed console interpretation of the beautiful game. Towards the end of the last decade, though, the paradigm shifted. There was a sense that Konami was resting on its laurels, a mood that EA picked up on.
EA, you see, pulled out all the stops for FIFA '09 - seriously, the overtime bill must have been HUGE - added assorted bells and whistles and improved just about every aspect of their product. Whatever the overtime bill, it was worth it as the general consensus was that they'd finally trumped PES. Personally, I wasn't convinced. As a long time PES devotee, it was going to take more than shiny graphics and fluid player movements to overcome my prejudice.

Don't get me wrong. I didn't dislike FIFA. Far from it. As a distraction on a boys night in, FIFA's accessibility gave it an edge over its rival. Within a game or two, you could be smacking 30 yard volleys over Peter Cech's head, exchanging cheeky one-twos with Stevie Gerrard, or smacking Beckham-style cross-pitch passes.

PES V FIFA: Battle Of The Football Sims

The thing is - and I know this sounds masochistic - I don't want that. It might be more fun to watch a 5-4 thriller with every strike a contender for goal of the season but there's a problem: that ain’t football. Sometimes, football is about grinding out a 0-0 draw with superior opposition. It's about coping when your star player is out for 11 weeks with an injury. It's about tweaking your side and still balancing the books. It's about dominating the match for 89 minutes only to see the opposition nick it with their one attack of the match. And that, you see, is what you got with PES - and, it must be said, in latter versions of FIFA.

The ease of earlier incarnations was still possible in the charmingly named Lounge mode but set the skill level high enough on the League or Cup modes and you had a much greater challenge than before. For once, I found myself wavering. PES 2009 was good but even I had to admit that FIFA was snapping at its heels. There was still a sense that FIFA was playing to the crowds while PES was playing to the fans but PES had missed a few tricks. Why were the squads out of date? Yes, the changes were available as an instant update but, for example, Berbatov had moved to United TWO MONTHS before the game was released. And why hadn’t they changed the commentary? A season of Jon Champion and Mark Lawrenson burbling the same clichés was too long, but two seasons? You’re testing my patience Konami...

PES V FIFA: Battle Of The Football Sims

And that’s perhaps why late last year, I found myself purchasing FIFA ’10 before Pro-Evo, and playing it. A lot. The graphics are impeccable. The skills and moves are realistic and instinctive. The commentary by Clive Tyldesley and Andy Gray made a refreshing change. Other tweaks also impressed, particularly the ability to create a player and take them online for team challenges and the ability to store your best goals online so you can show them to friends.

But then something happened. I don’t know what pushed me over the edge. It was possibly Andy Gray talking about my goal celebration “the aeroplane is what it’s called” and speculating on whether I was about to take off for what felt like 14 times a game. Or it might have been the season in Be A Pro mode when, despite setting the difficulty level to World Class, my third season team record read played 24, won 24, scored 153, conceded 2 – oh, and I’d just scored my sixth consecutive hat trick for England. Yes, it’s a buzz to do it, but there’s no satisfaction when it’s virtually served on a plate and the game's learning curve clearly needs more adjusting.

PES V FIFA: Battle Of The Football Sims

And so FIFA went back in the box – unless the boys are coming around – and I’m back on Pro-Evo. It’s tough, it’s frustrating, it’s blooming difficult to score, and that’s the way it should be. Konami – I’m sorry I ever doubted you, but well done for taking the lessons of FIFA onboard. And well done for EA for giving them, and their game, the kick up the Arsenal it clearly needed. I, for one, look forward to the 2011 tussle...

Click here to see the cheapest prices for FIFA 10 for the platform of your choice...

Click here to see the cheapest prices for PES 2010: Pro Evolution Soccer for the platform of your choice...

Add a comment9 comments
Matt Gardner  Jan. 8, 2010 at 13:11

I always found that it was the PES series which allowed for the more outlandish goals...although having said that, I fondly remember how in FIFA 96 if you got the angle right each time you could belt off a shot from just past the halfway line, Motson would murmur "Well that looks a bit optimistic..." and the ball would somehow always end up in the net Beckham/Nayim -style, provided you were playing with a half decent player...like Romario.

Must agree though to a certain extent, PES devotee in the Noughties up until FIFA 08 which is when they had the big overhaul and have tweaked since then. Haven't looked back, though. FIFA Lounge got me through uni in one piece!

You're right about one thing for certain...the 2011 instalments should be very interesting indeed.

Robert  Jan. 8, 2010 at 14:38

I got Fifa 10 on day of release and finally got around to PES for Christmas. No comparison, I downloaded all official strips and team names for PES and it beats Fifa hands down.

DB  Jan. 8, 2010 at 15:33

Robert, your comments have really annoyed me! Not on a personal level, just that this year is the first time I have ever bought FIFA for any platform, having always been Pro Ev, and before than, Sensible Soccer!

I thought this FIFA was very very good, the graphics are fantastic, and the 360 degrees play is rally effective. I would say what started out as a fresh commentary team is waining a bit, btu i play with the sound down most of the time anyway.

Have only played Pro Ev demo, but it didnt seem up to much!

Robert  Jan. 8, 2010 at 16:57

DB - I have bought and played Fifa & PES most years for many different platforms.

I thought Fifa was particulary good this year, I also downloaded the demo of PES and thought it was not very good, which actually put me off buying it.

However, I got PES for Christmas and have been very surprised, it is so much better than the demo, so Fifa has not been in my PS3 now since before Christmas, PES has put a huge smile back on my face. Football as it should be.

Matt Gardner  Jan. 8, 2010 at 17:03

I'll agree with this. The retail PES 2010 is a helluva lot better than the poor shade of a game that was presented in the demo.

Having said that, I think FIFA still pipped it for me this year. Any game that I can glance at and mistake for Match of the Day wins it for me...that and the revamped Manager Mode.

MattyPlant  Jan. 19, 2010 at 16:08

PES ftw always! My mates have all got Fifa a while it looks good blah blah yaddah yaddah I aint PES!
0 - 0 85mins on the clock, frantic mistakes, panicking at the back, the a sublime shot scores, none of that in Fifa, like 13 - 2 and stuff lols
Although if anyone is interested PES2010 on the Wii is so much fun! The through balls you always wanted to do, and free kicks with the wii mote are awesome! Not to mention diving for a pen :D

Brad  Jan. 20, 2010 at 23:24

I have to agree with the Demo situation, downloaded Pes on the 360, and It made me not want to buy the game, Just though it wasn't very good, Plus the terrible lag on the the old version ruined the last one for me so didnt want to risk it again, So went round my mate's who got Fifa 10, and I didnt like it for just one reason, the shooting felt like your kicking one of them plastic fly away balls you get at the beach, and one-on-one's dont seem to make sense to me and didnt feel natural.
So do I take a chance on Pes or stick with Fifa?

Matt Gardner  Jan. 21, 2010 at 11:11

Gotta agree with MattyPlant about the Wii versions of PES. Admittedly 09 was terrible (but that was universal), but PES 08 was phenomenal on the Wii and actually made really good use of the Wii's motion controls rather than just being a botched port. Something of which other third party developers need to take note.

@ Brad: Don't judge PES 10 on the demo, if you can rent it first then that'd be my advice so then you can weigh up the two finished games and make an informed assessment.

Me, I'm a FIFA 10 fan for the moment, although by god they need to sort out the commentary....and the goddamn free kicks!

MattyPlant  Jan. 22, 2010 at 08:59

And so you should agree lol, but please Matt come back to the Dark 'horse' side of the field!


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