Lately there’s been a lot of hoo-haa on the issue of FIFA 11 vs Pro Evolution Soccer 2011. I’ve played both games throughout the years, and since FIFA and PES are the games we usually play multi-player. alot!
So, I thought I’d write a mini review to sort the matters out. I have also posted this on this thread, so go ahead if you want to join in with the discussions.
Note: I’m will only be comparing the PC versions.
Personally, I’ve been a little sceptical about FIFA since FIFA 99, so I might be a tad little opinionated. FIFA 11, just like FIFA 10, 09, 08, is a game with all the bells and whistles i.e. ‘The Features’, except a few minor improvements in mechanics, mainly influenced/copied by the PES mechanics.. FIFA excels when it comes to graphics, a close to reality tele experience, great sound (Pro Evo cant even come close to FIFA on this), commentary, licensing, online play, support etc. BUT. In the long run, you realize that all these ultra-marketed features are just gimmicks, and what you need in a game is solid mechanics and deep gameplay, which can grow on you. For example, what do I have to say about FIFA’s trademarked features such as Pro Passing? Its just a gimmick but offers nothing new. For Christ sakes its just passing!
They just sound cool, but they dont really portray themselves truly into the game, as in, dont justify what they’re intended to do. With FIFA 11, the deal is, you play 30 games, and then you’ll know exactly how to score, the exact spots from where to shoot. Also, almost all the goals in FIFA 11 look just the same. Its not a game in which you can build and develop yourself in. You learn the tricks, do them at the right time, bang, you’re past the defender, it couldn’t get any easier. You hit a through pass when you see your winger is open, and ZOOM, your wingers past all defenders and all you need to do is a simple drive to score. Maximum number of goals scored in FIFA 2011 is by playing through passes to your wingers!
Players in FIFA 2011 are not even close to their real life counterparts. They might look exactly like they actually look, their animations might be perfectly motion-captured, but I’m not talking about that. There’s more to it than just getting the visuals right. Here’s my illustration. Take Drogba for example, or Ibrahimovic. These players are bulky and swear by their physique and strength for goalscoring. In FIFA, they’re not like that. they just have good Shoot stats, which is incorrect and is not congruent to the real situation. Now, take David Villa for example, Villa scores through dummy runs, draws defenders, and also through his excellent vision in positioning. Villa in FIFA 11 isn’t like that. In FIFA 11, have a player that runs fast, has good shooting stats, thats it, can score goals to glory. See this is all, it depends on, STATS, which are very shallow if I had to mention. Drogba is such a great scorer, but if you have him in FIFA you cant really do much, thats because his Speed stats are low, thus he cant run fast. Now thats something what I call a flawed ‘heart of the game’. And theres a reason why I’ve noticed all hardcore FIFA players use the Sprint button 100% of the time they spend playing. Its like its mandatory that you should always sprint.
This is what EA can never understand. Look at all their games, they market them through bogus trademarked features with cool names, without any real depth, just over-the-top nonsense.
Now, lets talk about the defending in FIFA 2011. Again, defending in real life football is not all about speed and agility. There’s a whole lot of tactics and mentality involved in defending. Example: Spain and Barca defender, the young Gerrard Pique, big tall guy, with big feet, defends excellently in FIFA, and he is a good defender in real life, so where does the issue lie? I’ll explain. Take John Terry for example, John Terry is more of a steal and interception kinda guy, not a one-on-one dogfighter defender. And thats something FIFA cant show in his defending character. All he has is high stats like any good defender, thus, defying the laws of uniqueness. You might find him different from Vidic and Puyol at first, but spend a little more time with FIFA and you see there’s actually no difference in the way these defenders defend.
Another major flaw I saw in FIFA 11: I decided to have a little fun with it, with Barcelona as my team, playing against Real Madrid (yes, El Clasico baby!), playing online with this Polish player @Kotikolakraw (5 star rated). He had Real, so he had the advantage of stats, with Ronaldo, Higuain, Kaka, Benzema etc.. I was just chilling, wanted to have some fun (actually, a part of my testing the game out). So, I made Messi my goal keeper, Valdes (originally a keeper) and Pique (Defender) were my strikers, Iniesta (AMF), Xavi (CMF), Busquets (DMF) and Villa (CF) were my defenders, had 2 DMFs, Pedro(WF) and Bojan (CF), 1 CMF, Maxwell (LB), and 1 AMF, Puyol (CB). As you can notice, I’ve assign the players roles which are as opposite as opposite can get to their real life roles. Come on, Messi, defender? Puyol, stiker?
So here’s what happenned during the match: Messi’s goalkeeping was totally formidable! I did concede 4 goals, mainly because the opponent was firing high flying curve shots from C.Ronaldo, but Messi did save some 10 shots, diving all over the place. I lost the match, 4-3, but I still dominated possession for most of the game. Iniesta, a thin little man, who’d I swear drop at the touch of fly, was an excellent defender through all times, tackling Kaka till his knees ran out. Puyol, my main playmaker of the game, made some excellent through balls and lobbed passes, setting up goals for Valdes, to score.
I hope you can see the point I’m trying to make here. This is what I’m talking about. The FIFA 11 engine failed to differentiate between the players’ role in this scenario. Valdes (who is actually a goalkeeper) scored 2 goals for me, one from an excellent bicycle kick, which frankly I find it hard even with Villa or Messi. FIFA couldn’t understand this. And this proves that players are not programmed to be how they actually are. It’s just certain limited parameters set in the engine and that is what decides what a player should do. This makes the game scope very limited.
I’m not saying FIFA 11 is bad. It is a HUGE, I mean a HUUUGE improvement over the previous FIFA versions. I never expected to EA to really come up this high. They did infact surprise me. But when it comes to being a close to the real thing, an actual good football ‘simulator’, nah. And also, if you’ve been following both the franchises for years, you’ll notice a scenario, FIFA is heavily influenced by the Pro Evo gameplay and if you see one feature on PES, in 2 years, you’ll find it in FIFA.
Plus, the heart of the game, is not something you can build and develop yourself on. Soon, you’ll get to know the quirks of the game after a month’s time and this will only lead to you winning 10-0 all games even at the highest difficulty. I’m sure ALL, and I mean ALL, of you FIFA players out there have experienced this. This is cheap gaming. Giving gamers the high of winning, but not really having a good video gaming sports sim experience.
Verdict: Go for FIFA if graphics, sound, commentary, presentation is your main priority. FIFA is something you can show off with. But the engine is undeveloped, and more precisely, flawed. You can enjoy the game now and then, but for long term playing, plus playing with real serious challenge in mind, this game just doesn’t cut it.
The Japs call their version of the game Pro Evolution Soccer, sounds cheesy, just like everything Japanese, but then again, is deep, and precise, just like everything Japanese. The graphics of PES 2011 have seen an improvement, but still their lighting effects are not something to rave about. The stadium, the pitch, the audience, are all strictly above average. The presentation, I must say, has improved a million strides over last year. Its superb! Plus the tactics menu, is again, brilliant, no-nonsense, and gives you the options you want to fiddle with. There is a hidden philosophy in the PES system, it invites to change the way your team plays, and to try different playing styles, like possession football like most Spanish teams, attacking ans position switching football like the Dutch, midfield run throughs like the Argentines, or simple through passing tactics like the British.
The player uniqueness is what sets this game apart. PES has some 30 various rated stats for a single player, like Attack, Defence, mentality, speed, Short Pass Accuracy, Short Pass Speed etc. Each player has these things like ‘Pokemon cards’ kinda thingys, introduced only last year, like ‘Extra Attacker’ for Pique, who occasionally comes up front to help score, ‘Incisive Run’ for Messi, means cutting through the side into box to score, Dummy Runner for Villa, Enforcer for Mascherano, Goal Poacher for Torres etc. These Pokemon cards makes players unique.
Messi is Messi, Drogba is Drogba. When you make runs with Drogba, you can feel his physical presence on the defenders, the way he goes through them. He is slow, but that doesnt seem the issue, just like his real life counterpart. He forces himself into defenders, using his sheer strength to keep them off him. You cant find this in FIFA. If you have someone like Darren Bent, sneaking past defenders from out of the box to receive a pass inside and score, and this is actually how he seems in PES. Iniesta, always making a presence everywhere in the pitch, has the Free Roaming pokemon card, and he behaves likewise.
Next, the major improvement in PES 2011, THE PASSING! The freedom to pass the ‘EXACT’ way you want to with the new passing system, plus some change in the game mechanics here and there, is totally AWESOME! (I rarely use the word awesome but I couldnt resist this time).
PES wants you see the beauty of this game called football. Wants you to find you own style of play, whether wide, narrow, possession, etc, and develop it, and see what works out best for you. This is where its sense of realism comes into play. Its a refined system, built on and improved for years and years, exploring depths which let me tell you, is hard for game developers of any genre to go into, never can you find games with engines this deep. Some games do have it, for sure, but PES is something special, very very rare.
The beauty of the PES engine is remarkable. Sometimes me and my friends, after a nice long session of PES, just admire and discuss about how deep the game is. The players, the passing, the defenders (which was a weak point a few years back), and the goalkeepers (huge improvement again this year).
In PES, ALL GOALS you score are scored differently. There is no ‘sweet spot’ to shoot from. Keepers may behave in an exactly similar situation differently from how they behaved before, it depends on countless factors, and this is what actually counts.
Defenders behave like they are supposed to. Puyol is a dogfighter, its difficult to go one-on-one with him. Terry anticipates the attacker’s move before he makes it. Defenders don’t run behind fast attackers in PES like they do in FIFA, they’re always on their toes, sometimes confused, as to what the attacker might do next, they try to see what options he has, try to minimize his chances.
Its something like this, FIFA is the ‘reality TV show’ while Pro Evo is the ‘Mad Men’ of football games. Hope you understand it. Cheers.