Two football games released at the same time. What are the odds, eh? Pretty high, obviously. Pro Evolution Soccer 2017 vs FIFA 17 may be the latest battle, but it’s a war that goes back decades.
Most people won’t want to spend £80 on two football games, which means it’s decision time. Should Pro Evolution Soccer 2017 get your money, or is FIFA 17 the winner? Let’s find out.
Pro Evolution Soccer 2017 vs FIFA 17: Authenticity and graphics
Let’s start with how they look. Superficial, I know, but it’s important in its own way. While both FIFA 17 and PES 2017 are good looking games, it’s really no contest between the two of them. FIFA 17’s players amble around the pitch in such a way that they’re almost recognisable from their movements, before the commentator even opens his mouth. By contrast, PES 2017’s are a touch more generic, and the players movement feels a touch more stilted.
But it doesn’t just stop there. Crucially, FIFA 17 has tie-ups with the majority of leagues around the world, meaning that you get officially licenced players, clubs and stadia. Thanks to EA’s marketing budget, and the omnipresence of EA branding on Premiership matches, it now feels more authentic than ever.
Pro Evolution Soccer 2017 has nowhere near that level of budget, and the result is painfully felt. While the Champions League is officially licenced, the majority of clubs aren’t. So while you’ll get Arsenal and Barcelona present and correct, for the most part you’re left with the likes of “West London Blues” (Chelsea) and “North London Whites” (Spurs). There’s an editor, and on PS4 you can download an Option file to patch in correct names, clubs and kits, but it’s a lot of faff, and it’s only really fair to judge the games on what’s in the box.
Pro Evolution Soccer 0 FIFA 17 1
Pro Evolution Soccer 2017 vs FIFA 17: Gameplay
But, as they say, it’s gameplay where it counts, and on this score Pro Evolution Soccer hits a dramatic equaliser.
It’s not that FIFA plays a bad game, by any means, but this feels more of a return to the early 2000s, where PES just felt more like a real game of football. As The Telegraph puts it, “PES 2017 offers the best on-pitch action for our money, serving up matches that take on their own narrative and teams that feel like individual units rather than the same bunch with differing stats.”
That is, of course, just one publication, which is where Metacritic comes in. At the time of writing, Pro Evolution Soccer 2017 is rated 88 on Xbox One and 86 on PS4, while FIFA 17 is averaging 86 on Xbox One and 84 on PS4.
Pro Evolution Soccer 2017 1 FIFA 17 1
Pro Evolution Soccer 2017 vs FIFA 17: Career modes
In Pro Evolution Soccer 2017, there’s Master League: a very addictive single player mode built on fostering young footballing talent. It’s very addictive and is exactly the kind of thing that has you saying “one more game and then bed.” At 3am.
It also has a “Become a Legend” mode where you take on the role of a single player. Again, perfectly fun, if you’re happy spending long stretches of the game without the ball.
Unfortunately for Konami – like the licensing issue – EA’s budget tears through these decent offerings. Not only does FIFA 17 have options to match Pro Evolution Soccer 2017 (Career mode is like Master League with far more polish and a lot more behind-the-scenes options while “Be a Pro” lets you play as a single player), it also introduces a never seen before mode: The Journey.
The Journey sees you taking on the role of a single player going through his career from a young rising star to an international legend. So far so “Be a Pro” but it’s a lot more than that, with decisions to be made off the pitch in beautifully animated cutscenes showing your relationships with key stakeholders at the club. It’s fairly simplistic, with “Mass Effect” style dialogue choices making small changes in where your career goes next. (Note this is only on Xbox One and PS4 versions – Xbox 360 and PS3 miss out).
Suffice it to say, this unique new way to play gives FIFA 17 a decisive edge.
Pro Evolution Soccer 2017 1 FIFA 17 2
Pro Evolution Soccer 2017 vs FIFA 17: Multiplayer
Multiplayer is a similar story: EA offers a more polished experience, and a few more options to keep things going.
With Pro Evolution Soccer 2017, it’s sometimes hard to get a game going, and even when you do, you’ll often find the tactical closeness that makes the single player game so engaging is lost, with Barcelona seeming to play a lot more a long-ball game than they do in real life.
By contrast, FIFA 17 is usually quick with a match-up that usually feels fairly balanced. You’ll still have opponents using very familiar tactics (fast players are a popular commodity) but at least there’s plenty of variety along the way, with several ways to play. There’s plain friendlies, obviously, but also Season mode (where you battle it out in a virtual league with final placement based on your number of wins and draws against opponents your level), Ultimate Team (which does the same thing, but with the added thrill of building a team from packs of virtual stickers) and Be a Pro multiplayer, where you take on the role of a single player in an entire team.
While Pro Evolution Soccer 2017 has similar options (without the polish and licensing might of Ultimate Team), it’s not as smooth an experience, so FIFA wins again.
Final score: Pro Evolution Soccer 1 FIFA 17 3
Pro Evolution Soccer 2017 vs FIFA 17: Verdict
While this may seem like a straight win for FIFA, things aren’t quite that simple. Even though Pro Evolution Soccer 2017 is the better game in just a single category, you’ll note it’s gameplay: and some would argue that’s the only metric that matters.
FIFA 17 wins in areas of polish and options, but on gameplay it’s a little weaker. Ultimately, in my view it comes down to how you play. If you’re a casual player who enjoys dipping in occasionally for post-pub play sofa-play with friends, you might find Pro Evolution Soccer 2017 the better experience.
If you’re playing every night, you’ll probably really get a lot more out of the myriad ways to play that FIFA 17 provides, and the additional licensed teams and polish may prove vital.
There really is no substitute for trying for yourself, though, so give both demos a go and see which works for you. This rivalry is going into extra time.
This article originally appeared on Expert Reviews