Rivalries in football don’t come much bigger than the likes of Manchester United vs Liverpool, Celtic vs Rangers, or Barcelona vs Real Madrid. In the gaming world however, Konami and EA Sports go head to head each year with their latest versions of Pro Evolution Soccer and FIFA vying for top spot as the best football game available. They’ve both been out for a little while now, so if you’re looking to buy a game for a fan of ‘the beautiful game’, we’re here to help. Which one should you buy this year; PES 2018 or FIFA 18?
From the very first whistle till the referee calls time on a match, FIFA provides a fast paced experience which barely gives you time to breathe. The A.I. is smarter, creating a real challenge offline, whilst the tweaks to crossing ensure that area is the best it’s been for ages. For all the excitement the dynamic gameplay brings, being able to pass it first time and score amazing goals with ease – even using terrible players – takes away from the enjoyment as you become numb to some of the action. Nothing is earned.
PES goes for a more considered approach, encouraging players to try and play a ‘pure’ version of football. It really pays off as passing, crossing and shooting all feel realistic to a certain degree, with every great moment coming from hard work and effort. Rewarding is the best way to describe the gameplay, with the onus on creating opportunities for yourself instead of relying on any flaws in the game engine or pace abuse.
As a veteran FIFA player, I adore the PES way of doing things in regards of the on-pitch antics.
Verdict – PES
Unfortunately, just like previous years, it tends to go belly up for the online side of PES 2018, and the infamous lag can’t even bear a portion of the blame. Everything is much slower, becoming a very sluggish and tiresome experience where agile players turn into tanks; it’s like every game is played in mud. That’s when you eventually find a match, because you’ll need to perform a few searches in the matchmaking before getting an opponent at times.
Where FIFA succeeds in this case is in transitioning the smooth, albeit frenetic, gameplay from offline to the online arena. Sure, it’s still a wild ride as goals fly in from everywhere, the ball bounces off players like it’s a form of pinball and the matches are end to end, but none of the good aspects are compromised in the slightest. And most of all, the fun element of ‘absolutely anything can happen’, remains intact.
Verdict – FIFA
Neither game has tried to do anything majorly different in terms of the game modes; with FIFA 18 enhancing their extremely popular Ultimate Team mode, building a fantasy team to compete against gamers all around the world. Pro Clubs caters for the mass multiplayer fan base, allowing for up to 22 players to be a part of a single match and providing a way for friends to play together with a purpose – something the 2v2 option also offers. The disappointments come from the same old career style modes and The Journey, which still hasn’t reached its potential.
PES on the other hand? Well, Master League has always been a huge draw and it still is one of its strongest modes, swiping the FIFA career modes aside. Sadly, the teamplay options are so far behind, it’s rather embarrassing and even the 3v3 co-op hasn’t sufficiently been developed to be a worthwhile mode. Konami’s version of Ultimate Team, myClub, isn’t a bad mode at all, but it still lives in the shadow of its rival’s offering.
Verdict – FIFA
PES has managed to deliver an atmosphere like no other during a match, especially in the grounds they’ve got the licenses for. As a United fan, it pains me to say that Anfield in-game is a glorious stage for any occasion. Everything is still a tad dark though like last year, and there are still a lot of licenses missing for team badges, names and kits – you can always edit them with a bit of effort. Players don’t look great either, apart from a few of the top names; there are plenty of ugly character models. Those major competition licenses are a pretty big deal though and having the likes of the Champions League is impressive.
Vibrancy is the name of the game in FIFA, breathing life into the football pitch and adding plenty of colour to the presentation, but it’s lacking in the overall match day feel. Like its counterpart, the realism of the players is dependent on who they and what team they play for. EA Sports’ title has always had the edge in the way of the authenticity of its roster of teams, with so many present that have official licenses. There are a few that don’t, but mostly it delivers, for both the men’s and women’s teams.
Verdict – Draw
Given the amount of time I’ve spent in the menus of football games over the years, a quality soundtrack is always welcomed with open arms. That is never more true this year and we’re seeing cracking tracks from the likes of Linkin Park, Clean Bandit and Bruno Mars in PES. The risk however is from having a shortened track-list to accommodate the big names of the music industry, leading to a lot of repetition in long periods of play.
FIFA have gone for a real mix of artists, from the well known to the unknown, with a splash of the artists who are on the up. Lorde and Stormzy are leading the charge on a pretty large soundtrack that suits the aura of the game really well. After a couple of months, the tracks that you don’t know will grow on you.
Verdict – Draw
The Final Verdict
Honestly, it depends on what someone wants from a football game. PES brings the purist brand of football, whilst FIFA triumphs in the sheer amount and quality of the game modes. For the solo experience, taking on the best the A.I. has to offer and playing with friends locally, PES wins hands down. But for those who wish to show off their talents online, or share the pitch with pals all around the globe, FIFA definitely comes out on top.
What I’m really saying is, treat yourself, your loved one, or your best mate to a copy of both FIFA 18 and Pro Evolution Soccer 2018 this year as they’ll then get to experience the best of both worlds!