The Challenge From Pro Evolution Soccer
26.12.2015 15:16

What's the best soccer game to play? For many people out there, this one's probably a no-brainer. Given that FIFA has become so famous and mainstream, it seems as if Konami's Pro Evolution Soccer doesn't even exist on the radar of players.

The reason behind Pro Evo's unpopularity can be attributed to its slightly different control mechanics and perhaps the fact that it doesn't have names of official teams and players due to licensing issues. Many also stay far from it, just because it's not FIFA. The truth, however is that Pro Evolution Soccer is a highly underrated game, and actually has some features that are far better than EA's best seller.

Let's give the due credit and start with the fame that FIFA has achieved. It's not easy being number 1 in the sports gaming category, and EA was the first and only company to acquire official rights from FIFA. This is one major reason for its success, as a huge percentage of players really stress over the official names of teams, leagues and players.

The said official licensing also means that the players themselves are used for photography and performance, captured by EA's studios to ensure accuracy. Pro Evolution, however, sacrifices realism for a more arcade-like style to allow fast-paced gameplay.

A similar topic on Digital Spy ranks the two games side-by-side, comparing FIFA's official licenses, gorgeous visuals, and deliberate passing mechanics to Pro Evolution's fluid and fast-paced passing and Player ID system. FIFA boasts better visuals consistently, while Pro Evo loses some points when showing players from up close, although looks amazing when the game is in full swing.

Another win for Pro Evolution is the Master League game mode, which feels like a different game in itself and remains to be one of the strongest aspects of the game. With the reinvigorating career mode and fast paced gameplay, we strongly believe that PES 2016 is the winner here, while FIFA churns out the same formula with slightly updated rosters.
et's give the due credit and start with the fame that FIFA has achieved. It's not easy being number 1 in the sports gaming category, and EA was the first and only company to acquire official rights from FIFA. This is one major reason for its success, as a huge percentage of players really stress over the official names of teams, leagues and players.

Every month in Play Magazine, we take a hot topic and look at the arguments for and against. The ongoing battle between FIFA and PES is the subject of debate this time. First up, we’ve got Play’s resident FIFA fan Liam Warr on why FIFA is better than PES. Next week, we’ll have the response from Play’s Paul Walker-Emig, who argues that PES is now the king of football games.
Let me start off by saying I haven’t always pledged myself to the EA powerhouse. I was a PES fanboy until 2008, when they decided to use Michael Owen on the cover and the online was like acting out a scene from the terrible film Jumper. I hold Michael Owen entirely responsible for this atrocious edition and the subsequent degradation of the mighty Winning Eleven.
Prior to this, Konami had a great series that trumped EA’s flagship franchise. I spent countless hours building my Master League teams. There was Random Selection mode in PES 6, a solid online mode and a fantastic edit mode for jobless teenagers like me who could be bothered to edit everything to perfection.
Which brings me to the now-superior FIFA.  There are only a few things I love more than a classic match on FIFA, notably Taylor Swift and Back To The Future, but I don’t quite think there’s enough space for me to list every reason why FIFA is the better football simulator nowadays, but I’ll begin with the PES 2016 gameplay. The FOX Engine is literal balls. Why is there no friction on the grass? You pass the ball and it’s like the damn thing is rolling on ice. 
Konami has claimed that this year that the AI of the goalkeepers is ‘advanced’. This simply isn’t true. Every time the keeper rushes out he gets beaten. Even if he does get to it, he flaps like a bird. EA did a good job of focusing on this in recent years with a noticeable improvement to the keepers’ intelligence when parrying the ball rather than hitting it straight to an attacker’s feet. 

To its credit, PES certainly looks a lot better than it did last year, but the player models pale in comparison to those of FIFA 16. The edit mode is not what it used to be: not only is it now unnecessarily convoluted, the fact that I‘m 25 and working now means I simply haven’t got time to sit through and edit the team names and kits. I’ll just buy FIFA instead. No one wants be East Dorsetshire, or South Norwood.
FIFA 15’s introduction of every Premier League stadium was a remarkable achievement. The attention to detail on every ground is fantastic and they are near-perfect recreations. It provided a breath of fresh air when playing a career in the game, making away matches  feel even more interesting as you really get the opportunity to soak up the atmosphere. 
Which brings me nicely onto presentation. Last year saw a lot more official Premier League branding added to the game, building on the already realistic television match day experience. As a proud Yeovil Town fan, it’s important for me to see the football league as playable teams. Sure, it’s nothing new as EA has had the Football League licence for 12 years now. But it was only last year that Konami introduced the Championship. Wait, sorry, “The English 2nd Division”.
Going back to the gameplay, which, in truth, is what really matters in this argument, there is literally nothing that surpasses the fluidity of a FIFA match. Every year, the game is getting better at animating every little detail such as first touches, slide tackles, player movement and even more recently the progressive pitch degradation. There’s more focus than ever on defending and keeping that strict back line to cut out any penetrative passes from the midfield, not to mention the intelligent runs made by your AI attackers. Another problem with PES is that I can’t forge a cutting attack because my players don’t make any creative runs to break the defence.
The big thing this year for EA is the debut of the Women’s National Teams. This has been timed to perfection by EA given the popularity of the Women’s World Cup this year. It’s been in production for quite a while and wasn’t an easy task for EA by all accounts, but I for one am loving playing as the England’s Lionesses such as Steph Houghton and poor Laura Bassett. If you’re reading this Laura, it’s fine. You did the right thing. I expect Konami won’t consider introducing Women to the game until at least 2022.
Let’s finish on Ultimate Team, arguably the biggest game mode ever introduced to  the series. I’m not one to pay money into it because I find it a more rewarding experience to win with my team of scrubs against someone who has quite obviously haemorrhaged money, forcing them to rage quit at 40 minutes because I’m 3-0 up. myClub, the PES equivalent of FUT, is a fair competitor, but it’s hindered again by its confusing menu system that I just can’t seem to get my head around.  So for me FIFA will remain king for the foreseeable future, whilst PES can politely place itself in to the sea. 

Players need to give Pro Evolution Soccer another chance, especially since the game is now free to play. What are your thoughts on the two competing football titles? Will you try the Pro Evolution Soccer or stick with FIFA? Let us know in the comments below.
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