Can PES really take the crown from FIFA?
A good football coach will tell you that it’s not the system which matters, but the players who play within its system; that formation doesn’t matter, because you should only see formations when defending. PES tries to attack FIFA this year with some stand-out features and warranted upgrades, and this time, it does a great job to defend against the onslaught of FIFA.
Jose Mourinho, Brendan Rodgers and Ronald Koeman all believe in a similar ethos; in so much as a game is won or lost in the transition. PES is finally in transition, and while a valiant effort, falls just short.
Let’s deal with the obvious. PES has never been known for its licenses, and this year is again no better. However, we can’t hold PES accountable for FIFA success in negotiating deals with individual clubs; you probably won’t have your team licensed in PES – so let’s not dwell on that. Then there’s the presentation, which despite a top menu upgrade in recent times, is essentially a re-skin of a tried and tested formula, which Konami seem adamant will remain boring an unappealing for years to come. There’s nothing we can do about that, either, then.
Much of this is minor detail, and as such, shouldn’t be considered too much. What should be is the things that PES has evolved, upgraded and done incredibly well. And there’s a lot of that to be found in this year’s outing. But more important than online play, and retaining licenses to the Champions League, is solid gold gameplay. PES nails it.
This year’s PES offers an exemplary model of the beautiful game, with a rhythm and flow which really shows off the Fox engine. Players react well to the ball, and in many ways, it outdoes FIFA on variety of goals and general play. Animations are in-sync with the tempo of the game, showcasing the difference in which foot you may strike the ball with; it is for want of a better phrase, a symphony to FIFAs pop song.
Much of this is down to something FIFA has never managed to get right – formation play. In PES, the full backs will split, the defensive midfielder will patrol the line in-front of the defence, and set someone up in a traditional trequarista role, and they’ll play the part well. During the transition, this is amplified by formational change options via the d-pad, with players becoming fluid and not following lines of play – almost.
In fact, PES gameplay is so damn close to real life, it’s scary, and sometimes frustrating. In the search for gameplay, rather than simulation, PES often makes players faster than they should be (FIFA also does this, so it’s not limited to Konami’s product). Also, the difference in skill is less noticeable in PES, perhaps in an attempt to be a better simulation, and herein lies the problem; PES tries to hard, and does so much well, that it doesn’t quite manage to appease FIFA fans, while at the same time alienating the purists who boot up every day to immerse themselves in the beauty of the PES simulation.
But, after a few weeks of solid time with PES, you cannot help but praise this years’ effort, and it is with a modicum of regret that we can’t quite declare PES the winner of this year’s battle. Both games are great in their own way, and one thing is for Sure; on this evidence, FIFA needs to pull its socks up and start evolving, because next year, PES isn’t an outsider – it’s quite rightly back where it belongs as a great football game, and a worthy challenger.
Well done PES, and good luck, FIFA. You’re going to need it.