Soccer/world football is the only sport with two high-budget releases available to fans.
EA Sports’ FIFA series has been the best iteration of the sport for years, but Konami’s Pro Evolution Soccer has made significant strides over the past two years.[external_link_head]
Some believe the franchise’s sharp gameplay has helped it overtake FIFA. PES‘ march forward can be traced to its adoption of the Fox Engine.
The new tech has led to steady improvements in gameplay and visuals.
EA Sports isn’t going down without a fight. The EA Canada development team is using the Frostbite engine for all of its sports video games and FIFA is first in line.
The series debuted a single-player campaign mode with a full cinematic story in this year’s game, and the war is on. Which game offers the most to consumers?
Here’s my opinion:
Graphics And Animation
Let’s be clear: both games look great. There are a few renders that look a little better on FIFA than PES, and vice versa.
However, when you take into consideration the player models, stadiums, lighting and the cinematic screens in FIFA‘s The Journey, EA’s product edges PES by a slim margin.[external_link offset=1]
The level of detail in the player and manager’s faces are among the best I’ve seen in sports video games. This advantage is further augmented by FIFA‘s smooth running motions from the players on the pitch.
This is easily the best looking FIFA title to date.
Slight Edge: FIFA 17
Gameplay And Realism
If we were judging last year’s versions, PES would win by a landslide. Konami’s title had impeccable collision detection, ball physics and pinpoint passing for those who are skilled enough to execute.
FIFA 16 was more arcade-like, less tactical and precise on collisions. While the gap has been noticeably closed, PES 2017 still has a slight edge in gameplay over FIFA 17.
EA’s ball physics and collision detection issues have been all but cleared away, but PES still owns the all-important area of passing. Mastering the touch on low passes, lobs, crosses and through balls is challenging, rewarding and realistic.
FIFA 17 has similar gameplay qualities, but they are a notch below PES in every area. That said, both are a great representation of the beautiful game.
Slight Edge: PES 2017
Sound And Presentation
Here’s where we start to see some separation. To put it plain, PES‘ commentary is sub standard. There are tons of repeated lines, no real difference in dialog from league to league or in matches of varying levels of importance.
The visual presentation qualities are limited to pre-match rolls during UEFA events. Based on the level of flash and meaningful overlays we’ve seen from other sports games, this pales in comparison.
FIFA 17 is the exact opposite. There’s so much presentation here. You feel as if every match has its own story. Smaller stadiums and lower-level events don’t feel like the English Premier League title game.
The commentary is excellent with relevant content in each of FIFA‘s modes of play. There’s really no contest here.
Massive Edge: FIFA 17[external_link offset=2]
Options And Modes
From the start of the options conversation, EA’s hold on the most vital licenses puts PES at a distinct disadvantage. Konami offers an attractive customization suite to help close the gap, but there’s no substitution for the real thing.
Aside from the licenses, FIFA 17 would have the edge in options and modes on the strength and quality of The Journey alone. This is no weak attempt to emulate NBA 2K‘s MyCareer.
In fact, The Journey is so strong, it has overtaken 2K’s top-notch single-player concept as the best of the genre. The story is compelling, the visuals are stunning and the method of play offers the user a variety of ways to experience it.
Group that with a fully fleshed out version of Ultimate Team, a career mode that lets you play as a manager or player (without the story line) and a bevy of cooperative online modes, and FIFA 17 is a complete football experience.
PES 2017 has most of those options — except for a mode like The Journey — only they’re all underdeveloped. MyClub, which is designed to combat Ultimate Team, has seen only a few minor enhancements.
Master League is Konami’s career mode, but it hasn’t been upgraded much either. PES 2017 can offer most of the same experiences as FIFA 17, just with a lot less depth and personality.
Edge: FIFA 17
While PES 2017 has a slight edge in gameplay, and that’s obviously the most important category, FIFA 17 is far from unplayable. In fact, you could argue it’s more fun despite some of the more technical shortcomings.
In any case, the difference in gameplay is not enough to account for FIFA‘s sizable edge in presentation and overall depth. If I had to buy one soccer/football video game this year, it would definitely be FIFA 17. [external_footer]