FIFA’s gone straight in at the top of the UK chart, but this year’s battle with long-time combatant PES is a closer thing than EA may like. Nick Akerman compares the latest instalments of both series.
PES is unlikely to ever topple its competitor’s exclusive licenses, production values, and remains years behind when considering the physicality of the sport. Now the developer understands this, a new direction is taking shape.
September is always a month of change. The weather chills, kids go back to school, and gaming’s football elite reappear for another virtual El Clasico. Much like the performances of FIFA 13 and PES 2013’s cover stars, there’s very little to separate the two franchises this year.
Both continue to tweak away, etching towards a winning vision. As Liverpool fans will know, such promises must be given time. FIFA has enjoyed a generation of success, echoing the trophy-laden haul of Manchester United across the past decade. Critical and commercial domination has followed, leaving many questioning whether or not PES has the capabilities to compete once more.
As recent reviews suggest, Konami’s rebuilding process is going well. The game is finally embracing its arcade tag wholeheartedly. This realisation is an important one, as recent iterations have looked reluctant to fully-commit down a single path. PES is unlikely to ever topple its competitor’s exclusive licenses, production values, and remains years behind when considering the physicality of the sport. Now the developer understands this, a new direction is taking shape.
PES 2013 plays a more robust game than its older brothers. Passing, dribbling and shooting has received attention across the past 12 months. The addition of improved manual assistance alongside default settings ensures players of all abilities can compete. Executing a precise through ball or controlling secondary teammates while in possession might confuse casual players, but its a godsend for the hardcore audience. Akin to a beat ’em up like Street Fighter IV, average gamers have the chance to play in a manner that suits them. Just because Ryu can pull off a Metsu Hadouken Ultra Combo doesn’t mean it has to be utilised for victory.
PES Productions continues to expand. A UK-based studio is in the works and should aid the development of the series. Perhaps Konami is issuing a direct challenge to the English-heavy EA Canada studio by planting a team in football’s back garden. New additions to the side have a difficult task ahead of them. Although PES 2013 is a step forward on the pitch, content and presentation often feels like you’re flicking through the crayon scribblings of a Wayne Rooney autobiography.
To put it bluntly, Konami must start learning from its mistakes. In a year that sees FIFA evolve its Manager Mode and add 11 vs 11 seasons to Pro Clubs, PES rehashes old experiences. Master League used to be the Holy Grail of single-player sports campaigns. This hasn’t evolved since the series made its Xbox 360 debut and has developed some irritating problems. Club information arrives in the form of lectures from your colleagues. Slow cutscenes contradict the tic-tac gameplay, adding fragility to the sturdy arms that have welcomed players so warmly over the years.
FIFA capitalises on such shortcomings, but does make its own howlers. Manager Mode continues to improve year-on-year and is finally introducing snippets of football away from the turf. Newspaper reports call out poor performances, start weightless rumours, and follow transfer sagas with vigour. From post-match recaps to live Soccer Saturday styled commentary, an emphasis is put on minor details.
Unfortunately, FIFA Ultimate Team doesn’t get the same treatment. The game is yet to release and EA have already had to deal with exploitations and hacking. Ultimate Team has the power to become an obsession whether you spend money on its collectible cards or not.
Although this mode has received single-player seasons and a smattering of new paint, problems continue to arise. Any player who has spent time building their squad will understand how addictive the process becomes. Time, effort and money is often sacrificed so the latest in-form player can be brought in to bolster struggling teams. For an entire year formations are altered, personnel swapped, and injuries received heading into vital matches. These hardships are overcome with skill and determination. How are players rewarded? The developer builds a loving relationship with an individual before dumping them 12 months down the line.
Ultimate Team players are dedicated to an EA business model that doesn’t care for them. When fans fire up the servers on release day they will be greeted with the familiar feeling of emptiness. Traces of what used to be are exchanged for cries of wasted time.
Of course, it’s only right players start each season with bronze cards. What isn’t acceptable is the giant chasm that sucks up the work of an entire year. I want my own Ultimate Team history book. I want to remember all the trophies I’ve accumulated, my entire club record, and all the other nuggets football fans discuss down the local.
Who is my club’s most prolific scorer? Who is my longest serving player? Which awful signing did I spend the most on in 2009? Not a foggiest. EA has so many options with Ultimate Team and must initiate some sort of tangible reward system for the next update.
With that said, the vast majority of FIFA 13’s content is spot on. Comparisons to PES in this department aren’t worth making. The most difficult argument arises when considering the style of each game. Both have major improvements that need to be addressed for 2014. Konami’s better performance should be welcomed by the opposition and will only serve to make both titles even stronger.
Fans will wage war as to which game is superior. This exercise is as pointless as rival season ticket holders arguing who supports the better club. With PES 2013’s greater sense of direction and FIFA 13’s methodical tweaking, there’s plenty to enjoy whether you’re red or blue.