Over the last couple of days I have managed to spend a fair bit of time with the latest editions to the FIFA and Pro Evolution Soccer (PES) franchises. Coming to grips with the subtle changes that both series have made in the up coming 2012 versions of the games, through the demo's that have been released. Firstly though a bit of back story for those that may not know.
The football game genre is constantly evolving and both franchises have been fighting the battle for supremacy since the days of the original PlayStation. FIFA had an arcade game play style that was fast paced and allowed players to shoot from pretty much anywhere near the 18 yard box and score. It was less about the "beautiful game" and more about who could rack up the most amount of goals in 10 minutes. PES on the other hand was a tougher more methodical game that required a level of skill, that tested the player. It treated football fans as if they knew how to play football and gave them control, allowing the game to flow. For many years this trend continued with PES reaching its dominance over FIFA in 2004 with PES 3 even with EA snatching up 90% of the licences for the players and teams.
FIFA 2005 brought change to the way EA made their game. A new engine was bought it and a new team of previous PES players were now in charge of creating the future of the game. PES carried forward too, churning out games with minor updates, but the FIFA team started making major changes, taking note of what PES was doing right and looking to improve further. In 2008 these changes took shape in FIFA '09. The control system had been overhauled to mirror that similar of PES and that new engine was ready to show what it could do. The rivalry began.
PES had its core elements in place, though Master League was still exciting the rest of the game had become mechanical and boring. FIFA had shaken up the genre and PES was losing fans at an alarming rate. With FIFA 2010 PES was no longer the leading game, FIFA had fluid game play, slick animations, fully licensed teams and grabbed football fans alerting them that there was a new king. Konami started to add new features and rather then improving the gameplay, decided too add gloss and shininess, thinking this would help them regain the throne. How they were wrong.
This brings me to the 2011 editions of either franchise, PES is a love hate relationship, one the one hand a great Online Masters League mode, ruined by a aged and frankly broken engine. The game feels punishing and scoring even the simplest of goals feels like relief, rather then rejoice. FIFA 11 established itself are the football game that people had been waiting for, for half a decade.
After playing both demo's of the 2012 versions of the game, Konami has lost the plot, forgetting why people play football games. Their engine, whilst looking gorgeous, still feels mechanical and the players look as if they are on rails. When you initially load the demo you are forced to watch a 5 minute video showing so called "improvements". The whole experience has fallen apart and the gaping holes have been filled with gimmicks. On the other side FIFA 12 is the best football game I have ever played. It feels like the PES of the past with the polish of the FIFA franchise which captivates this genre. The graphics has been improved the physics and collision systems that were criticised have been fixed. EA is listening to its users, making the best game it possibly can.
So in conclusion. You may have noticed from my blog that I used to be a PES follower, buying every game without fail, having faith that they would fix the bugs. Instead I have transferred to the FIFA camp where innovation and evolution are clearly happening. I would recommend playing both demo's to any football fan, but would be highly surprised if they did not walk away with the same feelings as I did. Worryingly this asks what is next for the Konami franchise and can they just carry on making mediocre games. With one franchises future so bright and the others so bleak, I look forward to this time next year to see if anything has changed.
Thanks for reading...