The long-running battle for market supremacy between EA Sports and Konami has provided avid football fans with a series of ground-breaking titles that have pushed the boundaries to new levels. A staunch ambition to be one step ahead of their rivals, combined with the integration of next generation graphics, enhanced operating systems and evolving animation capture technology, has led to both football games being more visually appealing and life-like than ever before. It has enabled fans to be closer to the action and feel every kick, tackle or physical collision, with subtle details included across every aspect of the game to create the best football experience on a console or PC.
While computer games can only come so far as simulations for the real-life version that brings people from all over the world together and enables those who feel they can predict the outcome of matches to do through choosing the best odds, Fifa and Pro Evolution Soccer have both come a long way over the years. However, as is always the case with football, there can only be only one winner, and with avid fans often finding it difficult to choose between them, we need to look into the finer details to see which comes out on top.
Capturing the imagination and true passion for the sport of avid football fans requires every detail to be on the money, and although purists may prefer watching the real thing and predicting the outcome through the latest Football Odds, EA Sports’ ability to obtain official licenses for the badge and kits of every team on the game makes Fifa 16 a visual spectacle. With over 650 teams from 30 leagues across the world to choose from, gamers are certainly not spoilt for choice when playing Fifa 16, with the addition of lower leagues in England, Spain, Italy and other major leagues not only branching out to fans who may support Accrington Stanley or Salernitana rather than Manchester United, Barcelona or Juventus, but also create more depth that can be appreciated throughout other game modes. EA’s partnership with Sky Sports has also seen the introduction of the official graphics used during live Premier League matches aired on the television station, while other leagues, such as the Bundesliga, have also received the same treatment to further enhance its visual qualities.
Although Konami have been able to retain their official Champions League license which incorporates the infamous theme tune when players walk out on the pitch, they remain in the shadow on EA Sports by only incorporating official badges and kits for Manchester United in the Premier League, along with every team in Spain, Italy and France. It is this authentic touch which is missing from Pro Evolution Soccer 2016, with the lack of badges and kits, along with the names of several players, managers, stadiums and teams being incorrect being the main disappointment of a game that could be so much more with the official licenses (this can be amended on the PlayStation 4 through file transfers from data created on the PC, but Xbox One gamers unfortunately do not have this option).
The key selling point of any football game is the overall gameplay, with fans now expecting the very best engine that incorporates every aspect of the sport in the best way possible. Capturing the drama and suspense that comes with the real thing is something that EA Sports and Konami manage on an annual basis, and although it does not compare with reading the full match listings on Bookies.com to see the fixtures and potential favourites to watch the unpredictability factor of football play out on television or sat in a stadium, both games certainly earn strong marks for their adaption of the beautiful game. Fifa was by far and away the main leaders in this category up until the last year or so when Konami really stepped up their game with Pro Evolution Soccer 2015 which significantly bridged the gap between the two through an enhanced game engine that recreated all the qualities that have arguably been lost since PES2006, which is still hailed as a classic title. Pro Evolution Soccer 2016 has gone one step further, with enhanced AI and game physics not only allowing gamers to see the unique playing styles of a wide range of players on and off the ball, but also create lovely attacking moves and appreciate the understanding that players have on the pitch as to their surroundings and moving into space.
Konami have not entirely moved away from the arcade aspect of football, but although their latest title certainly offers excellent gameplay that should provide gamers with hours of drama, excitement and tension, there is still a certain lack of fluidity within gaining complete control of a player’s movement, while trying to pull of skill moves is more complex than it should be. Both aspects have been perfected by EA Sports through their innovative animation capture technology using star players such as Lionel Messi and Sergio Aguero to create every aspect of dribbling, body movement and skill to ensure gamers can manoeuvre around the pitch in the way they want to. Fifa 16 has thankfully amended the huge error that was made with the dependence on player speed on their previous title, with EA Sports focusing their game around being much more patient in possession and moving the ball around in order to create openings that would not otherwise be possible on 15 whereby one ball to a pacey winger or striker was the golden ticket to success. Although many gamers believe that Fifa 16 has become almost unbeatable at times when playing against the computer, you cannot help but marvel at the quality goals, wonderful goalkeeping saves and overall ability to defend, pass the ball around and attack using innovative features that make the game so realistic.
Another major selling point that could be decisive in which title gamers should buy when looking for a football game is the range of game modes that are provided. Fifa 16 has made significant improvements to its Ultimate Team service that enables gamers to purchase packs and create their very own dream team in order to reach the top against the computer or online opponents. The game has also stuck with the tried and trusted modes of Seasons (single player and Co-Op), Pro Clubs, and Career mode which allows gamers to experience life as a professional footballer or manager. The latter has seen numerous innovative changes, with the introduction of pre-season tournament and an enhanced training system that allows gamers to set up training sessions every five days and either play through them themselves, or simulate to create improvements in player abilities that is reflected when they perform on the pitch. Pro Evolution Soccer 2016 has similarly followed suit by sticking with the game modes that made the title popular again last year, with myClub and Master League undoubtedly the standout features. The latter definitely resonates with their loyal fanbase as one of the most iconic modes in football gaming history, with gamers able to take control of their chosen team and lead them to glory on and off the pitch through training regimes, dealing in the transfer market and scouting for fresh talent that becomes available every year.
Trying to decide between the two games may ultimately come down to personal choice. Those who want the ultimate gaming experience with full licenses and the ability to play with a whole range of teams should side with Fifa 16, while others who prefer a more arcade-version of football and can oversee the lack of licensed badges, names and kits due to the hours of fun that can be had playing Master League should go for Pro Evolution Soccer 2016. It is clear, however, that Konami have managed to significantly bridge the gap between their market rivals and now have a title that offers serious competition, but having played both games, I would say, from personal experience, that Fifa 16 edges it as the game to buy.