Is Pro Evolution Soccer 2019 good enough to beat Fifa 19?
The annual battle for the hearts and minds of football game fans is upon us once again, as the next instalments of the Fifa and Pro Evolution Soccer (PES) series prepare to launch.
For more than 15 years now, the two games have been in truth the only real options when it comes to a high-profile video game representing the sport.
It’s an engaging battle too, with Fifa (as the name suggests) long seen as the “official’ game, complete with team, competition, player and stadium licences across the board.
While Konami-made PES takes on the role of the plucky upstart that lacks the sales and the polish of Fifa’s up-to-date kits, but for many offers a more accurate and natural-feeling gameplay experience, and is seen by some as the purist’s choice.
This year, the deck is stacked even more against PES, after it lost one of the licences it did hold – Uefa’s two European club competitions the Champions League and Europa League – which to add insult to injury have now linked up with their rivals for Fifa 19.
The result is a Fifa game more packed with authentic match-day features and experiences than ever before, and a seemingly unassailable advantage over PES when it comes to the range of content.
Having spent some time with the game’s demo on the floor of Gamescom however, it’s clear the Konami game is not without its high points.
In terms of gameplay, PES continues on the improvements of recent years to offer a football simulation that feels close to the real thing.
Weight of pass being manually controllable engages players more in every step of a passing move, while general intelligence in player movement – searching to find space and offering runs to the man on the ball – is also improved.
The pace of the game is good too – not the fast forward end-to-end chaos that some say make Fifa unrealistic, instead PES 2019 asks players to pick apart the opposition patiently, using passing moves to create spaces to exploit.
It is in this aspect that you can see the influence of Barcelona, the official partner of the game and whose players are its cover stars.
It’s unfair to say that Konami has based the game solely on Barca’s style, but it is noticeable how much a strong, short passing game will help players here – a style associated with the real team for many years.
Visually, PES 2019 is a step forward for the series too, with player likenesses and movements reflecting what you see on TV every weekend, while smaller movement details such as players pointing or gesturing to indicate who to mark or where to pass add a level of detail and realism that will be appreciated by more eagle-eyed players.
There are still some league licences to speak of as well – gamers in Scotland may be more likely to turn to PES over Fifa this year because of the presence of a licence for the Scottish Premiership. The top divisions in Portugal, Turkey, Belgium, Argentina, and Russia are also among those in the game.
And when the time comes to entice players, Pro Evo does get the first swing – it comes out on August 30, whereas Fifa 19 isn’t being released until September 28.
This little bit of space could be what it needs to catch the eye of those still undecided on which way to turn this year.
It may be unlikely to top Fifa in sales this year, but a few of those hearts and minds could be claimed instead.