When you think about it, football games are pretty hard to review. How do you judge them?
Do you use the sequel rules and concentrate on the way they they further refine what was already there, or do you constantly look for the biggest revolution in gameplay and realism?
With rivals PES and Fifa once again going head-to-head in an effort to be crowned the year’s “Best of Footy Gaming”, this years annual debate poses more of a conundrum than ever before.
EA’s Fifa 11 lines up with a host of refinements on the Fifa 10 mould, building on its solid foundations, adding the best bits of their Fifa World South Africa release, and introducing a host of new gameplay features that are geared towards realism. It’s arguably refinement at its best, and undoubtedly makes for the truest game of football to ever grace our screens.
However, Konami have gone for the total revolution approach with PES 2011, scrapping the last few years and working hard to change it into a more faithful representation of the beautiful game. PES is definitely the bigger change of the two, but it still ends up playing a pretty different game of football to FIFA.
Both games are great this year, so we’ve decided to compare them side-by-side to decide the match winner.
On the Field
Fifa 11 is a pure simulation of the game, staying faithful to its previous realism and improving upon it with a string of upgrades. The new Pro Passing system means passing to team-mates relies more on your own skill than ever before, and largely removes the old ping pong passing problem from Fifa 10. It’s a good system that dramatically changes play – if you became accustomed to the easy one touch passing in last years game, be ready for a big shock here. Now you have to think about your actions and carefully unlock defences with well placed short and long passes.
Shooting has tightened up and allows you to score from more realistic angles, while also limiting efforts on your weaker foot and from awkward positions. Goalkeepers are much better this time round, providing more of an opponent when you’re through on goal (though it’s still too easy to slide one underneath them), and are noticeably handier at covering their box during play.
Defender AI is much smarter – especially on the Legendary mode setting – holding position well and constantly pressing you for the ball. Strength plays a huge part in Fifa 11, adding to the 360-degree control with realistic tussles from all angles, though it sometimes feels like the computer can hold you off too easily when you rush in to challenge. All of this is finished off with a ton of new fluid animations, better celebrations, and a new Personality Plus system that faithfully recreates the way star players, such as Drogba and Gerrard, act and influence action on the pitch.
Fifa is now such a faithful recreation of the game that 90-mins of play is never the same and can often revolve around a tight midfield battle, waiting for a moment of magic and ingenuity to pick a defence for that killer blow.