EliteGamer.com reviewed both of this year’s FIFA and Pro Evolution Soccer entries and found both to be two different styles of the same game; some of the differences being forced by a vast gulf in finances. Like Barcelona’s Tiki Taka facing an equally effective Wimbledon of the 1980s. With the FIFA™ World Cup less than a fortnight away and eight months of hindsight to work with, we try make the choice a little simpler.

World Cup
That is SO World Cup 2018

It’s quite comforting to know that countries can’t have their names trademarked as otherwise it Wouldn’t be beyond the realm of possibility that by 2022, PES fans could be spending their summer playing Snowland vs. West Atlantic Green

Official Licensing Stuff – FIFA Obviously

As usual, EA has buttoned down the very biggest licenses for this season. FIFA 18 can boast full licensing of most of the top leagues in the world and the photo-realistic kits to go with it. This summer, EA also applied an official FIFA™ World Cup patch to help push sales before the Soviet Soccer Sojourn.

Cure your impotence in front of goal with compulsive goal-tally liar and Viagra spokesperson, Pele

The free patch comes with every single kit, player, crest, manager, stadium and sponsor all lovingly recreated and it is indeed impressive. It captures the TV presentation we expect to see during the tournament and after I guided Iceland through the group stages I was treated to the ‘Thunder Clap’. Beautiful attention to detail like this can be seen throughout the games played in ‘World Cupnik USSR 2018’ mode.

Pro Ev has no real answer. Despite more national teams than ever before and, luckily, the 32 teams needed to properly recreate the tournament groups; having to make up the official groups for the finals EVERY SINGLE TIME is a pain in the arse. There is no option to save the structure of the tournament until after you have picked a team so if you want a few cracks at the cup, you will be restarting as the same team or composing the groups all over again.

Some of the teams don’t have their official rosters. Most notably, Russia, Mexico and Nigeria. Hilariously, the Nigerian squad is made up of quintessentially English surnames. As if they scoured the Lancashire County cricket side of 1907 for inspiration.

A smaller concern is the lack of official shirt and crest licenses. Most of the nations have changed strips since the release of PES 2018. For the many non-licensed countries, being stuck with national flags and plain shirts won’t break your World Cup immersion too much.

It’s quite comforting to know that countries can’t have their names trademarked as it isn’t beyond the realm of possibility that by 2022, PES fans could be spending their summers playing Coldland vs. West Atlantic Green.

the mildly inferior models of FIFA are augmented by the fact that footballers whose families barely know their names can have digital simulacra that look almost as good as Pro Ev Messi.

Players Models – Pro Ev Shades It

FIFA might have an order of magnitude more licensed players and shirts but Pro Ev is unmatched up-close. If you have heard of him, PES has a nigh-on photo-realistic face that is scarily expressive when he misses a sitter or scores a last minute winner.

Pro Evolution Soccer 2018
My players looks unenthused as we are on a losing streak complete with poor form and associated depressed player attributes – attention to detail that FIFA mimics only superficially

The dilemma for Pro Ev is that ‘quantity has a quality all of its own’ – the mildly inferior models of FIFA are augmented by the fact that footballers whose families barely know their names can have digital simulacra that look almost as good as Pro Ev Messi. Almost.

But for its better high-end models and the glorious lighting, shading and kinematics, Pro Ev takes it. Replays of players straining for a header with pained determination were needed to decide this one.

PES aims to look like witnessing a live game more than FIFA‘s TV-stylings. Which one you prefer is up to you.

Overall Visuals – A Tense Draw

Pro Evolution Soccer 2018 can render incredible football – screenshots of official teams playing on official grounds are probably superior to FIFA 18. The aforementioned lighting, shaders and attention to detail when it comes to famous players give a very natural but vibrant look to the game in the right settings.

Despite being an obvious press shot, it is in-game. The lighting and shadows are actually this good, the recognisable players are this realistic and those kits deform like real clothing.

To counter, EA’s effort has a more versatile animation system that animates the game in a smoother fashion. The combination of official TV liveries, consistency of animations and player models and the sheer volume of official licenses makes FIFA look exactly like watching soccer on television. PES aims to look like witnessing a live game more than FIFA‘s TV-stylings. Which one you prefer is up to you.

FIFA aims to deliver something that looks like soccer with as little difficulty as possible in doing so while Pro Ev goes the opposite direction with a sometimes infuriating demand for precision

Off the Pitch – FIFA 18 by a Mile

Better menus, a larger, better variety of licensed music and the ‘club favourite’ system give FIFA a slick look, sound and feel away from the actual games themselves. Pro Evolution Soccer‘s menus are tired and while Konami has re-added some modes and given a little depth to others, there are simply fewer ways to enjoy the game.

Pro Clubs has no equal when it comes to loving and hating somebody online all within the same 10 seconds

Challenge Training modes and Be A Pro equivalents, especially, feel deeper and more rounded in EA’s offering. When you get sick of recreating the day’s scheduled matches, FIFA offers players many more ways to play with friends on-couch or online.

FIFA is a celebration of all that is superficially wonderful about the sport it is based on. The kits. The grounds. The big tackles. A centre-half doing seventeen Marseille turns in a row without a loss of speed.

Looking Like Football – FIFA 18

This year in particular the divide in video game soccer philosophy is plain to see. The animation system in FIFA aims to deliver something that looks like soccer with as little difficulty as possible in doing so – 35-yard piledrivers while standing still or moving with next to no pace are common. Artlessly waggling the right-stick to perform a perfectly-executed trick over and over again is, unfortunately, a genuinely effective tactic. The animations seem decoulped from the actual outcome as if the ball is not a truly free entity.

The losing team will always get forward more as the game wears on, hitting the post sixty times until a 104th minute bicycle kick equaliser from the fresh-off-The-Bench septuagenarian manager.

FIFAs through the ages have always had these characteristic and many prefer this ‘arcade’ approach – a celebration of all that is superficially wonderful about the sport it is based on. The kits. The grounds. The big tackles. A centre-half doing seventeen Marseille turns in a row without a loss of speed.

There is a lack of any tactical depth beyond choosing to try more crosses because you have a centre-forward above six feet tall. The losing team will always get forward more as the game wears on, hitting the post sixty times until a 104th minute bicycle kick equaliser from the fresh-off-the-bench septuagenarian manager – the artificial drama gets annoying after eight months.

The difficulty inherent in Pro Ev‘s demand for precision coupled with the tactical depth lend an unmatched satisfaction to even the sh**test goals. You worked for it. You earned it.

Feeling Like Football – Pro Evolution Soccer 2018

Pro Ev goes the opposite direction with a sometimes infuriating demand for precision. Your volley will fly into the car-park without correctly timing the release of the shoot button. Players seem to have weight and momentum and these are to be exploited for success in the dribble. Player animations sometimes clap out to make the ball move more realistically but the ball is acquainted with physics and seems to react to turf, leather and Wroughllen’s forehead with a realism that has never been present in FIFA.

While criticism of PES 2018‘s full backs is fair; crossing isn’t all that overpowered and defenders do actually attempt (and succeed) at intercepting cut-backs. If you are so concerned about Oliver Giroud, mark him with your most competitive centre-half and watch the football equivalent of the ‘Battle of Britain’ ensue.

A clash of tactics is about to unfold…

Tactically, Pro Ev is in a different league to FIFA, a truth that is laid bare by taking the default Master League team from D2 to the treble. The default team has little in the way of style but has a little pace and a centre-forward who is based on the target men of yore. An agricultural-style of football is more or less mandatory at first until we blood some technical youngsters or save up for some established quality. As we improve overall, we see our possession grow and our xG swell as we can now work the ball closer to goal for clearer cut-chances.

so should you have the imagination to cope with the lack of official World Cup fanfare, Konami have the edge when it comes to sheer footballing satisfaction

The difficulty inherent in Pro Ev‘s demand for precision coupled with the tactical depth lend an unmatched satisfaction to even the sh**test goals. You worked for it. You earned it. Your opponent will have to suffer the replay.

“The proof is in the pudding… and the pudding in this case is a football”

EA’s juggernaut is a shallower experience, an instant but less-satisfying high. And there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. The audio/visual immersion of FIFA married to its detailed licensing make for an easy fantasy while the guaranteed (but often artificial) drama is an easier sell to those who want a pick up’n’play World Cup-on-steroids experience.

It’s also worth noting the sheer effort that EA put into an entirely free update. Everything is in the FIFA™ World Cup update; the kits, the squads, the stadia, even the fonts.

On the other hand, the AI and tactics system of PES 2018 will give a more satisfying game on the pitch. So should you have the imagination to cope with the lack of official World Cup fanfare, Konami have the edge when it comes to sheer footballing satisfaction. This games writer genuinely derives as much joy from a 0-0 draw in Konami’s game as the highlight reel of screamers he has compiled in FIFA 18.

And besides, the World Cup is roughly fifty 0-0 draws, a few rip-roaring 2-2 draws and a 1-0 final. Basically Pro Ev.