FIFA rescues a thrilling score draw.
Earlier this month I confidently declared that PES 2017 would take some beating in this year’s battle of the football simulators... but FIFA 17 has rescued a score draw.
Konami got back to the halcyon days of PES6 with this season’s offering threatening to end FIFA’s decade of dominance.
Since then I have continued to enjoy Pro Evo offline but my enjoyment online - which is the main mode I play - has been hampered by lag and slowdown issues.
A couple of weeks ago I was certain FIFA could not match Pro on the pitch.
Offline I was right. Pro Evo 2017 offline is the quickest, most enjoyable and thrilling game of football you will have the pleasure of playing on a console.
But once again FIFA delivers on the overall package.
EA’s title is behind in terms of gameplay and speed offline but not to the extent that it makes choosing between the two games a no-brainer.
So when you throw in FIFA’s plethora of modes, licences, stadia and enhanced graphics thanks to its use of the Frostbite engine for the first time, then it quickly starts to even things up.
Add in the runaway success that is Ultimate Team, the added fun brought by a first ever story mode in the shape of The Journey and most crucially the near flawless stability of its online offering and PES finds itself clinging on in many respects.
Yes PES has the Champions League and Europa League licences which are a real coup.
But it is not enough to truly compete with the overall package delivered by FIFA 17.
On the pitch - certainly offline - PES2017 is a clear winner, of that there is no doubt. But while FIFA’s gameplay is less enjoyable and exciting, it is more methodical and perhaps more satisfying as you have to consider every pass in the build up to score a goal.
The main change to the gameplay aspect is the fact that bigger, more physical players can now outmuscle smaller rivals more realistically and easily.
Other enhancements centre around set-pieces and AI which don’t add a great deal long-term but are interesting alterations initially.
So it seems fairest to call this a high-scoring draw although EA be warned if Konami can get it right online then next year’s crown will definitely be in the balance.
Increased competition has raised performance levels for both parties this year and that is a triumph in itself.