PES > FIFA?
DISCLAIMER: WHAT FOLLOWS IS AN OPINION.
In our latest issue -Play 210 – FIFA and PES squared off in round 3,400,000 (approximately) of their eternal battle for footballing supremacy. The outcome: PES is better than it has been in recent years, FIFA slightly worse, but the rivals are now extremely close in terms of quality.
As a series however, for me, PES has always held the edge, ever since ISS Pro Evolution. Nostalgia-addled commentators of all stripes often bemoan newer PES games for being too ‘arcadey’. Too fast, too many goals, too much scripting.
Looking back through the years (and our own collections) however, this has always been the case. ISS Pro ’98 had only two teams worth playing as: Brazil and England, as Ronaldo and Michael Owen could run three times faster than the speed of light. The PS2 versions were always extremely arcadey: they just seemed to resemble a simulation in hindsight because the individual elements that contribute to the play seem so realistic.
And the game was always filled with hat fulls of goals and, ahem, ‘incident’. Everybody knows that PES has more scripting than three whole seasons of The Wire, but this is what makes the game so enjoyable, even if it seems counter-intuitive to say so.
The reason? Because without the scripting every single game would end up being 8-8 with seventy-five shots on target. It’s no coincidence that FIFA started to become a better experience when it started mimicking PES’s dedication to drama (and frustration). Around the time of FIFA 08, when people really started taking notice that the series might actually be a worthy competitor to PES, the games seemed to overlap in this regard.
But what FIFA has never really nailed is the individual strengths and weaknesses of the players, and year after year through the good and bad PES consistently gets this right (or at least better than its competitor). Playing Master League, if you buy a player like Ronaldo, you know what you’re getting: passing, shooting, crossing, someone who changes the way your team plays and also the way you do as well. In FIFA, you get a player that can run faster than the other teams players. And lots of lovely step overs. What you don’t get is the player’s physicality or ability above and beyond the most obvious skills.
This individuality is what marks PES out as the superior series, at least for me. Beating a man in FIFA is far too reliant on using fancy tricks, and most games play the same. In PES Master League, you build a team that is made better by the inclusion of talented individuals . In FIFA the basic template of your team never seems to change, and neither does your opponents. Teams don’t seem to play as they do in reality, possibly as a result of not being comprised of players that are individual enough.
Sure, PES has its problems: not a lot of licenses, animations that sometimes look like someone doing the robot, keepers that couldn’t catch a cold. But there’s something about the way PES’s elements mix together that makes it inherently more exciting than FIFA’s over-polished and predictable play.