No matter how good it is, Pro Evolution Soccer will never outsell FIFA. Even at its peak, when FIFA was at its lowest ebb on the PlayStation 2, the series was never the best-selling game. So, if the first thing you look for in a football game is whether or not it includes all of the exact names and official outfits, go ahead and buy FIFA 17 as normal. Pro Evolution Soccer 2017 is unrivalled for how the game plays and if it's a friendly and accurate reflection of the real thing.
It's tough not to draw similarities with Leicester City, the tenacious Premier League winners while analysing the competition between FIFA and PES. PES may lack the financial resources of its more well-known rival, but it has the spirit and determination to win. Even though each of them was a fantastic game in its own right, the feeling remains that FIFA bought its way to success. On the other side, PES has come to this point solely on its own.
In reality, PES 2016 was a watershed moment in terms of quality, and this year's game is more of a refinement of those achievements. Passing, for example, is easier and more precise, as is shooting, which now allows you to manage the amount of force you put into a kick. The most significant difference is the dribbling, which provides for such fine control that you'd swear the ball was stuck to the players' feet like in ancient footy games.
Artificial intelligence is also significantly superior, not in terms of talent, but because other players make mistakes and play as if they are real humans. They're not mindless robot drones that obey your every command, and each one has its own set of skills that have been rigorously mapped from their real-life counterparts. Even though it's always been one of PES's calling cards, this isn't a new feature, but it's never functioned better than it does now.
Of course, there are still flaws, but the shaky goaltenders of last season have significantly improved. On the other hand, the referees are just as ineffectual as they've always been, albeit this time they've gone from being extremely forgiving to completely unexpected. You may argue that this is equally realistic, but being on the wrong side of an arbitrary decision is far more frustrating than having a colleague who takes a long time to get where you want him.
The Premier League in action
In terms of options and modes, there hasn't been much improvement. However, rather than sifting through endless menus, you can now instantly change team strategy from the pause menu. As you might expect, FIFA 17's latest storey campaign has no analogue, but the iconic Master League mode hasn't changed much either. Although online play won't be accessible until later this week, MyPES has advanced far enough to compete with FIFA Ultimate Team.
While PES's graphics cannot match FIFA's on a technical level, especially now that Battlefield's Frostbite engine has been adopted, the animation is still fantastic and entertaining. The physics engine appears to struggle at times, which is unsurprising given that it is usually attempting to keep up with the game's flow.
The facial likenesses of top athletes are likewise extremely precise. Even though PES 2017 includes a few licences, such as Liverpool, Arsenal, Barcelona, and Borussia Dortmund, the lack of support remains a concern. There's also the UEFA Champions League, Super Cup, and Europa League. More significantly, you can either correct the kits and names yourself or wait for someone else to do so and download it from one of the PES fan pages.
Of course, because FIFA 17 won't be released until September 29th, it isn't easy to compare it against PES 2017. However, based on demos and early evaluations, it would be a major shock if it turns out to be as amazing as this. If it happens, that's even better because it'll mean that, rather than just one, this year saw the release of two of the best football games ever developed.
Johannesburg's FIFA Casino Hotel
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