By Neil McCormick
As intense as any premiership rivalry, the two giants of video game football Fifa and Pes are going through their final checks in advance of their season starting next month. For the fan of either game, this is almost as exciting as watching Sky Sports News during the summer to glean news of your team in advance of them taking to the field in August, as the new season kicks off.
For most of the 1990’s if you wanted to play a football game you chose PES. Yes Fifa may have had the official kits, the proper player names and authentically reproduced stadiums but it was lacking on the game play front. PES had game play and had it in spades. PES were the Liverpool team of the 1980’s to early 1990s, they dominated the market and made their rival Manchester United look distinctly average.
Then Like Liverpool, Konami made a terrible mistake, they took their eye off the game and rested on their laurels. They had success and believed it would stay with them. Meanwhile the development team at Fifa threw everything they could at re-hauling their game. Sensing their opportunity, they struck with a new engine and presented the gaming world with a game that had left Konami trailing.
You see the gaming market is a different beast to what it was a decade ago. A football game is sold now, not just on the single player, but on how it will perform online. And that has proved to be a major problem for Konami – their servers have been to be polite quite appalling. The interface to get an online game took Herculean efforts to succeed. And lets not mention the lag. I gave up after trying several times, the lag was so bad games were unplayable. Meanwhile despite being on notoriously difficult servers at EA – FIFA performed adequately. If PES is to regain its lost players,it needs to sort out its server problems. As an indication of how serious an effort Konami are making to regain lost ground. It has recently been announced that Microsoft and Sony are to host the servers for their respective online communities.
During the last two weeks, both games have released their demo, to try and win over those that are unsure which franchise’s jersey to wear. Read on to see what Electrocandy has to say on the subject.
Arriving first, Fifa hits the ground running. This years development has been a radical shake up of the controls. Traditionally football games can be controlled moving, Up, Down, Left and Right and associated diagonals. What Fifa has developed, is to give the player full 360 degree control of movement. Boy does it feel good – you really do feel you are in control.
When the demo starts you set your favourite team and set you difficulty level of choice – beginner, intermediate and advanced. I do not understand setting the favourite team – what does it do?
The Fifa demo is a decent one – choice of 6 teams :- Barcelona, Chelsea, Bayern Munich, Chicago Fire, Juventus and Olympique de Marseille. Gives a breadth of different styles of how the various teams play.
So how does it play?
Blooming great – crossing seems more effective, the ball control is more fluid and the player animations are even more lifelike than before. It feels like a proper match – goals are worked with intricate moves – it takes skill to get into a shooting opportunity. This is not an arcade style game.
With a thumping 5.1 surround soundtrack – you feel like you are competing at an actual stadium. The hair on the back of your neck stands up as the roar from the fans intensifies.
Another change I have noticed is ball control, the players respond like a true professional would do – balls are chested down with aplomb and do not go in any direction like before.
Physical contact seems to be a big feature this year – I witnessed plenty of off the ball antics. I was the victim of a particularly nasty sliding tackle. Just like in the real event, the player animation showed the player rolling up his socks with a scowl and try to run off the injury.
As in the real game – referee can get in the way – playing as Chelsea, Frank Lampard seemed to have a knack of unleashing a shot straight into the referee. Though in other games you do see the referee try to get out of the way.
One of the main failings I have had with Fifa in the past has been the goal keepers, they are not the sleek gazelles we see play day in day out in the premier league. They do not respond properly and as a result you often concede a goal. Well FIFA has worked on this, both the goalies and defenders defend now. There was certain satisfaction watching defenders finally master the clear it off the line approach. Clearly actual goalies have been studied as for example Pepe Reina acts as he would in the flesh, punching the ball over the bar etc.
All in all the FIFA demo has proved to be a winner – the franchise continues with its tweaks and continual improvement – it looks set to dominate the market again with FIFA 2010.
The once darling of football games has had a bad run during the last few seasons. With only the most fevered of fans staying loyal. Its once dominant position has been usurped as FIFA now hold the crown. PES 2010 is a crucial release for Konami. This will show its intentions.
Regretfully its a mixed report for PES 2010, for every improvement from last year, there are things still needing work.
You have the choice of 6 teams, 2 domestic and 4 international:- Liverpool, Barcelona, France, Germany, Italy and Spain.
Strangely for a football game, the demo does not include any commentary!.
I have to say there have been some improvements from last year – graphics have improved – players look instantly like who they are meant to represent. Skrtel of Liverpool is as scary as the real deal. As for Torres – the representation is phenomenal.
Its also good to see more licensed teams and kits than before – it adds to a more authentic experience.
The menus though are a pale imitation of the user friendly menu system employed by FIFA. They just seem unnecessarily complicated. I do like that you see before a match begins a poster and match tickets for the game .
If you have a 5.1 surround sound attached to your console – make sure you use it. The soundtrack is not as intense as FIFA. At the same volume comparing the two its very noticeable. The stadium sound is muted – you really do not feel as much that you are part of the action.
Unlike FIFA with its 360 degree control, PES 2010 remains with the traditional Up, Down Left, Right and associated controls. The consequence is you do not feel just as in control. Shots seem harder to control, with Fifa you have confidence that the weight you employed to a shot will be the same the next time you employ it.
Is PES 2010 too arcadey? I think it is – you have the choice do you want a game that feels like a football game or one that feels like its an arcade game. It just seemed to easy to stroll up and down the pitch. It also feels unbelievably easy to score – defence seems non existent, and the keepers respond as if they are in treacle.
I hope there are other changes before release. The teams are out of date – Alonso and Arbeloa still appear in the Liverpool roster for one. As a Liverpool fan I was incensed with the pre match animations. I was meant to believe the match was at Anfield but if it was it was no Anfield I have ever seen before. The players emerge from a wide tunnel and not down the narrow steps complete with the This is Anfield sign of the actual venue. If you want to recreate stadiums – it has to be authentic
However it will be online that PES 2010 has to show its intentions. The lag and appalling servers need to be vanished from memory. One can only hope with Microsoft and Sony taking over responsibility this will be possible.
I am afraid for this reviewer it has to be a 1-0 to Fifa. Its dominant position looks like continuing with Fifa 10. However PES 2010 has shown improvement from a year ago. It may not be this year but PES 2010 looks like it is heading in the right direction.
But it is up to you the player – do you want a football game that plays like a football game or do you want an arcade game?
Fifa 10 is out on all formats on 2 October 2009.
PES 2010 hits the shelves on 23 October 2009.