The annual fight between the two biggest football titles has officially commenced here in Germany, with both being shown not just at their own developer’s booths, but elsewhere on the floor too. We managed to play FIFA two days ago, but couldn’t get to PES until today. Having waited for around thirty minutes for the damn public to get out of our way, we finally stepped up to complete our hands on. We also have some video footage for you to check out.
Both games immediately look visually better than last year. FIFA 07 already looked good, however this year it again has improved. PES was always going to look better since it looked so awful last year on the 360, and it is certainly the best it has ever been. Naturally, this was reassuring to see.
Gameplay wise, both games remain totally different. PES 2008 is a lot smoother and quicker this year compared to its 360 outing last year, as passing was slow and heavy. Now, the ball zips across the park just as it used to, and it’s a welcome change. In contrast, FIFA feels a lot slower. It takes longer to get the ball moving up-field, and as such leaves you feeling a tad frustrated. The demo perhaps didn’t help since only one half was playable, whereas you got a full game of PES (very frustrating for the waiting queue behind though). Goals were scored infrequently, as players found it hard to get a lot of shooting opportunities. We watched quite a few games too, and this was proven by others, so it’s not just because we suck.
Ball physics are all important, and PES once again demonstrated why so many love it. The ball reacts the way it should all the time, bouncing off of players correctly so it becomes unpredictable. One game we witnessed whilst waiting in the queue for PES saw a corner come in, hit a defender but then bounce off of an attacker running in. The attacker accidentally put the ball into the net thanks to his knees. It was great because you see it time and again in real life, so to see it happen in a game is a pleasure. FIFA however had no such moments. Again this may have been because of the demo limit, but even in the virtual forty five minutes that were played, there were almost no scrambles that were exciting.
The controls are almost identical for both versions, except the shooting. If you have played both FIFA and PES’s iterations last year, then you will automatically be familiar with the controls; nothing at all has been changed that we noticed. Shooting hasn’t changed a great deal either, however a lot more time and a lot more games need to be played to see what affects balancing has, what affects cutting in from the sides has and so on.
Animation-wise, both games have their own unique attributes. Players surround the referee at bad decisions, tackles and the resulting collisions are done well in both games, and the movement of the top players such as Ronaldinho is spot on. Both games again have the very short cut scenes when a player is booked and their reactions can be seen up close. Here PES caused a slight concern, as there was some slow down during the scenes. The cutting to a replay too wasn’t as smooth as you’d hope for a new generation title.
Thanks to all the background noise, nothing could really be heard from either game (you’ll notice this in the videos included in the post). There were people shouting in German all over the place, so you’ll have to wait for the demos to check out the sound. Features too naturally weren’t available for viewing; both were just straight up demos of a friendly match as you would expect.
In the short time we spent with each game then, PES probably just about wins the battle. It plays smoother than FIFA although again not looking as pretty, but the ball physics separate them apart for now. Just because PES won this battle though, does not mean it will win this year’s War: there is still a long way to go.
FIFA 08 will ship in September, with PES 2008 shipping in October for Europe. The version we played of PES was 75% complete, but there was no completion percentage for FIFA.