Features & News

Demo Impressions: FIFA 11 Vs PES 11

September 27, 2010, Author: Phil Ubee

FIFA or PES? It’s a simple question but one which has been at the very fabric of the gaming world for close to two decades and it’s that time of year again as EA Sports and Konami are lining up their annual football franchises for release. Football fans across the globe are asking the also-annual question of “which one shall I buy?” so I have downloaded both demos to compare and contrast the strengths and weaknesses so that you don’t score an Own Goal on release day.

Big match build up
Let’s start with the aesthetics shall we? Both FIFA 11 and PES 11 look very impressive. EA Sports naturally, have stuck with the tried and trusted menu’s that cover every one of their titles any pretty much any gamer will now be very familiar with. Likewise the music keeps up the theme of previous titles with the Trax system. PES, on the other hand has modernised its main menu slightly from previous titles (let’s be honest it’s about time), the background music though, is the same tinny dance music as ever.

Overall I’d say that PES looks ever so slightly more polished in the menu department although it sounds crap. We’ll call that a draw then, 0-0.

Pre game
FIFA lets you pick one of three difficulties based on your experience of football games; beginner, intermediate or expert. I went for expert. Also in FIFA you get a choice of seven teams; Arsenal, Chelsea, Barcelona, Real Madrid, Juventus, Lyon and Bayer Leverkusen. Why Leverkusen are in there is beyond me but at least there is a decent mix. Pick your team and your opposition and off you go. You cannot adjust your strategy but can alter formation, lineup and the quick strategy options assigned to the d-pad.

PES gives you the choice of its standard five difficulty levels and in the interest of fairness I plumped for Top Player. Only four teams are available Bayern Munich and Barcelona from Europe and SC Internacional and Chivas de Guadalajara from South America. This is to show off the big new licence within PES this year; The Copa Santander Libertadores (South American Champions League). PES also allows you full access to the strategy options and believe me there is some serious depth to these screens. You can alter pretty much everything and in the full title, getting this right will be a key aspect of being successful.

Tactics are the name of the game

Due to the added level of interaction allowed, PES just about sneaks this one, 0-1

As is always the case with football, the important battle is on the pitch and here we have a very close game. Both have a similar opening to the match itself as players enter the arena and line up for the now obligatory handshakes. There is little to choose between them graphically as they both look very impressive. The respective stadiums are beautifully rendered and the pitches look good but player likenesses are a touch better in FIFA.

Into the match itself and the FIFA shine is again evident. Player animations are superb as they battle for possession at every opportunity, nudging each other at corners and free kicks as well as when running with the ball. Commentary is again voiced by Sky Sports Martin Tyler and Andy Gray and sounds much the same as in previous games.

John Terry and Arshavin, I'm sure there's a gag there somewhere

Overall though the game plays out much the same as last year, in fact, the only noticeable change to the gameplay is the addition of a power meter for short passes. This certainly adds to it as passes don’t just automatically ping to the nearest team-mate but the heavily promoted Personality+ is not obvious in this demo. Games are much shorter in FIFA too and it is quite difficult to really get play going in the time allowed making it slightly difficult to judge.

PES certainly feels like a marked improvement on its predecessor as player movement has certainly improved although there is still a degree of the ball sticking to the player’s foot when running in possession. There is no commentary in the demo but crowd noises are fairly good and in all honesty it’s not really missed. Again one of the biggest marketing points for this year’s game has been the added range of passing and the animations put in place to do this. This is evident but unlike with FIFA there is no button to jostle when the ball is in the air meaning that aerial challenges come across as something of a lottery and even worse than this there is no button to send a team mate running on. This is a small thing but has a huge impact on the play as even with an all out attack strategy your team mates stop when they get in line with the ball carrier. This is incredibly frustrating and makes counter attacking football almost impossible.

Another frustrating part of the PES gameplay is the length of time it takes to go through the shoot animation. I have lost count of the number of times I have worked an opening and hit the shoot button with no one near me only for a defender to nick the ball off my toes three seconds later while my players foot is still drawing back to shoot. Also, the goalkeepers have been a flaw in PES for several years now and there appears to be no real improvement this time out.

On the plus side you get a full ten minute match which does give you the opportunity to build your attacks and create openings and despite the above criticisms it does play well. Although the feints are easy to pull off now, I am slightly nervous of the settings allowing you to sequence feints to a single tap of the right analogue stick. This opens the potential for someone to be able to run with the ball from box to box with a player like Darren Fletcher by sequencing Cruyff Turns and rainbow flicks that are easy to pull off.

Overall, on the pitch FIFA 11 just about edges it. I would of liked a longer match that would have enabled you to get a better feel for building the play and allow us to see if the irritating niggles like the full back issue of FIFA 10 were still there but they aren’t evident in the demo. 1-1

They think it’s all over…
Post game FIFA will let you rematch with the same teams while PES will make you sit through a five minute video of all the options the full game will have, you can’t skip and you will get it every time. In fact it is quicker to get into another match by quitting back to the dashboard and reloading the demo. Otherwise it is a good demo which shows the game has improved. For PES though the ultimate test is the online play. Fans are now naturally weary of how the online modes work and with the addition of Master League Online it is more important than ever that Konami get this right.

I am superman.

The FIFA demo is also a good one. I would have liked a longer match and maybe a good look at the other big selling point; the Be a Pro goalkeeper, the demo does allow you to control the ‘keeper in the arena but I don’t expect this to be a fair reflection of how it will play in game. Again, this is not the time to judge but based on this small taster in the demo I am more nervous of it than excited. Simply holding down the A button while standing in the yellow positional marker seems to save most shots which, if taken into the full mode would totally negate the option of playing the position.

So the final whistle has blown and in all honesty, I can’t split them. There is some good and bad in both demo’s and the major game modes that might make the difference aren’t available. Whisper it quietly but this year could be the year that football loving gamers actually end up with both FIFA and PES.

FIFA 11 hits shops on Friday 1st October with PES 2011 released a week later.