FIFA vs PES; the 09 showdown
Both FIFA09 and Pro Evolution Soccer 2009 have been around for about three months now so is a good time to see who has the taken the golden boot in the fiercely contested EA vs Konami debate. In truth, having played both games for a prolonged amount of time, I feel that EA's FIFA has now overtaken Konami's PES as the champion of the football sim. Why? For me, its a weird sense of role reversal; for years FIFA was always seen as the more arcade driven game, very pretty, finely polished, fully licensed yet missing that extra something whereas the PES series was viewed as a game built around the most important aspect – game play regardless of the masses of unlicensed teams, stadiums and players. Yet in this seasons releases, the roles have been switched; EA have tweaked away at the game play over the years until they've reached a point with FIFA09 where they have attained what appears to be the most realistic footballing game play I have experienced.
Konami on the other hand have rested on their laurels as it were, content with the game play they've had for close on three years with very little improvement or innovation. Ahh but if it isn't broke, why fix it? I hear you say; and to some degree this is true but the play now feels stagnated and, when compared to the gameplay of FIFA09, PES can now be seen as the more arcade feeling release. FIFA rewards patient approach play, pass and move, a tactical approach. PES seems to reward you with Lionel Messi fleet footing through your defence a la Diego Maradonna at the 1986 Mexico World Cup before slotting a stoater past a floundering goalkeeper. Also, as is mandatory for both games, FIFA is fully licensed with official stadiums, hundreds of licensed teams and leagues from around the globe and literally thousands of players. Throw in fully licensed league and cup competitions and PES simply cannot compete despite the coup of gaining the rights to the UEFA Champions League option.
But for me this year has been battle of the gameplay, not graphics, not licensing, they are just the icing on the important game play cake and FIFA 09 has the game play to back up its pretty looks.