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19th Aug 2010

Pro Evolution 2011 v FIFA 11 – Preview

The yearly battle between FIFA and Pro Evolution Soccer is heating up, with PES due to be released the day before FIFA 11 this year. JOE checks out how each game is shaping up.

JOE

The yearly battle between FIFA and Pro Evolution Soccer is heating up, after the news that PES will apparently be released the day before FIFA 11 this year. JOE checks out how each game is shaping up for their upcoming battle.

By Emmet Purcell

In the game of football, there are immense, heated rivalries. From Barcelona/Real Madrid to Rangers/Celtic, every year there are a number of mouth-watering, head-to-head battles for football fans to savour. Appropriately enough, early October is the yearly release window for gaming’s biggest fued – Konami’s Pro Evolution Soccer v EA Sports’ FIFA franchise.

The rivalry between both football titles initially began with the release of International Superstar Soccer on the Super Nintendo in 1995. At the time FIFA was gearing up for its third instalment (FIFA ’96), though ISS won rave reviews over its competitor, despite the lack of club sides available or official team and player likenesses. The battle raged into the 32-bit era (Konami released ISS Pro for the Playstation) but it wasn’t until 2001’s Pro Evolution Soccer for the Playstation 2 that Konami had finally made a huge leap over their bitter rivals in the gameplay stakes.

A party favourite but tightly-honed football simulation, Pro Evolution quickly became the purist’s choice, as football fans mocked the floundering FIFA franchise, which seemed obsessed with new gimmicks each season over the less ostentatious gradual improvements of PES. As the current HD gaming drew its curtains, however, EA Sports sent development duties on their flagship title to EA Canada, and benefited immediately from the initially lacklustre efforts of Konami, as they struggled to embrace the technological demands of the Playstation 3/Xbox 360 era.

It has been claimed since that Japanese gamer tastes ensured that PES chief developer Shingo “Seabass” Takatsuka included only minor updates for the first instalments of the franchise under the current gaming era, due to Japanese gamers’ initial scepticism over the cost of Playstation 3 and overwhelming disinterest in Microsoft’s console.

As the developer’s home country was more excited in playing the Playstation 2 version of the title, it made sense for it to become the chief iteration, leaving western gamers dismayed at the low-tech re-use of PS2 assets for their HD gaming experience. Coupled with the exorbitant game prices at the beginning of the current generation, it’s easy to see why gamers became enticed by EA’s re-working of the FIFA franchise, which included state-of-the-art features such as 20-man 10v10 online matchups. In contrast, PES began to resemble an expensive port of a Playstation 2 game, with a clunkly online mode to boot.

A quick look at review aggregator Metacritic bears out this view, as the previous five versions of FIFA, shifting from Playstation 2 to Playstation 3, have shown a sharp increase in the average review rating of each instalment. This reversal of fortunes coincides with the rapid downturn in the fortunes of PES in 2008, one year into the current Xbox 360 v Playstation 3 battles.

FIFA Pro Evolution Soccer
2006 80 92
2007 82 89
2008 81 74
2009 87 77
2010 91 78

So which title plays a better game of footy? As ever, this is purely down to interpretation, while many followers of either franchise’s loyalty is now so embedded that they wouldn’t dare dream even rent the latest from their bitter rival. Critically and commercially, however, as evidenced above, FIFA is beginning to assail an insurmountable lead over their rivals. Last year’s sales figures also show that FIFA 10 outsold Pro Evolution Soccer 2010 by a ratio of four-to-one. So what can Konami do to wrest to wrest the title this year?

For starters, according to trade publication MCV, Pro Evolution Soccer 2011 is to be released just one day before FIFA 11, rather than the typical fortnight afterwards. It’s a bold move and if true, could trigger an immediate response from EA – could both titles be released on the same day? If so, expect retail employers to be clapping their together in glee for potentially record-breaking debut sales figures.

This year’s PES 2011 has been dubbed ‘the most radical revamp in its history’, and promises over 1000 new animations, a Master League online mode, new AI routines and the welcome sight of the world’s best player, Lionel Messi, gracing its cover. Here’s the latest trailer below to get you in the mood.

In contrast, FIFA 11 is especially excited over its ‘Personality+’, which apparently recreates the real-life personality of the keeper, meaning players will interact with teammates in real-time and resemble their counterparts in manner and ability more accurately than before. Players can also now save highlights, create online teams and even record their own chants to appear mid-game to cheer themselves on. Kaka joins Wayne Rooney on this year’s cover and the Real Madrid playmaker features heavily in the below trailer.

As always, it’s difficult to predict exactly which way the upcoming battle will turn, though we believe a revitalised Pro Evolution franchise could provide further impetus for EA Canada to not rest on their laurels with forthcoming editions. Both games are expected to be available in online demo form over the next three weeks so you’ll be able to sample both before the late September/early October showdown.

With the immense wealth of options the HD era has brought football gaming, we at JOE reckon whichever title comes out on top, a great performance from both sides can ensure that us football gamers are the real winners once again. Look out for our definitive verdict in the coming weeks.

FIFA 11 is released on Playstation 3, Xbox 360, PC, Nintendo Wii, PSP and Playstation 2 on October 1. Prov Evolution 2011 is coming to Playstation 3, Xbox 360, Nintendo Wii, PC, PSP and Playstation 2 on October 8, however recent reports suggest it may instead be released September 30.

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