It does not get mentioned alongside the famous football rivalries of Barcelona and Real Madrid, Brazil and Argentina or even Inter Milan and AC Milan, but the face-off between Konami’s Pro Evolution Soccer and EA Sports’ FIFA series of football games is just as bitter.
Each year sees new editions and endless debates (some physical) over which is better. While FIFA supporters claim they have better graphics and “real” teams and tournaments, the PES crowd insists it has the force of smooth and easy gameplay on its side.
This year, too, the arguments have been as fast and furious, with the recent releases of FIFA 13 and PES 2013, featuring Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo — both contenders for the best football player title — on their respective covers. We grabbed a copy of each and tested them on our PlayStation 3.
Teams and licenses
FIFA 13 steamrolls not just PES, but just about every football game out there. While PES has UEFA Champions League, the Spanish League, the Serie A and a number of leading clubs (including Manchester United and Bayern Munich) on its side, this pales in front of FIFA’s list of 30 leagues and hundreds of clubs from across the world, as well as the EPL. If you want to control teams and players you are familiar with, FIFA 13 is the better choice. By miles.
Winner: FIFA 13
FIFA 13 looks better. The grounds and stadia look awesome and star players bear more than a passing resemblance to their real life counterparts. Yet, the action is better on PES 2013, perhaps because some players actually play the way they do on the pitch. We loved the overall look of FIFA 13.
Winner: FIFA 13, by a whisker
There was a time when PES scored over FIFA in terms of ease of use. EA has listened to feedback from fans and, over the past few years, menus have become less complex. Most importantly, the game itself has been slowed to allow one to pull off skill moves. PES fans will claim they have better controls for basic tasks like passing and tackling, but we don’t think the edge is that clear any more. Konami is expected to change the game engine for the next edition of the game. That might make a difference, but as of now, the games are on a level pegging.
FIFA has better music and commentary (Martin Tyler and Alan Smith), but the sound of ball hitting boot is better on PES, as are the crowd responses to moves on the pitch. A close finish but we vote for FIFA because of its better commentary.
Winner: FIFA 13
Both games are mainly about letting you pick a team and play a decent game of football. But while PES 2013 sticks to football, FIFA throws in the Career Mode, letting you play for and manage teams. PES 2013 does have a career mode but it is like staring at a spreadsheet with stats.
Winner: FIFA 13
Conclusion: FIFA scores
In terms of look, feel and gameplay, Konami’s football title is not too far off EA’s. Where the FIFA series scores is in snaffling the official teams and player licences. Those wanting to step into the shoes of the likes of Messi, Rooney and Gerrard would love FIFA 13. If you have cash for just one (PS3 editions of both cost Rs 2,999 each), our recommendation is FIFA 13.