EA’s FIFA 15 demo is now up on Xbox One and PS4 alongside Konami’s Pro Evolution Soccer 2015 offering. They offer the first chance to see these sporting behemoths side by side on current-gen hardware, and the results, well, they’re not surprising.
Well, they’re not surprising to me anyway. As somebody who has always preferred the more, dare I say, cultured approach of Konami’s long running football franchise, seeing Pro Evo 2015 build upon the already rock solid foundations of last year’s criminally overlooked, Pro Evo 2014, doesn’t exactly come as a shock. Equally, to find a game that, on a fundamental gameplay level, appears to have the beating of its more illustrious competitor, again, doesn’t come as much of a surprise.
As always, many will choose to overlook this year’s Pro Evo due to the licensing issues that continue to plague the series (not to mention the utterly gash commentary), but the fact is, once the game actually starts, once you’re little virtual team are out on the pitch, it really shouldn’t matter if you’re playing as Merseyside Red or Liverpool FC; what should matter is the quality of gameplay and how well it recreates, or perhaps more importantly, captures the essence of professional football.
And that is something that Pro Evo appears to do better than ever this year – capture the essence of football. FIFA 15 is the better looking game, and thanks to its new ‘emotion’ engine, really does capture the live TV look of top level football, but the things is, while Pro Evo 2015 might be lacking in the visual bells and whistles department (it certainly doesn’t look quite so TV perfect by comparison), it’s when the controller is in your hands that Pro Evo 2015 truly stands out as something rather special.
Like the classic Pro Evo releases of the PS2 era, the latest incarnation not only seems to find that perfect balance between Match of Day style moments of magic and the slower paced, tactical options that can often make a hard fought 0 – 0 as entertaining and rewarding as a 4 – 3 thriller, but it also appears to have found that knack of capturing the best players’ unique attributes. It’s something Pro Evo has always been great at and, naturally, the demo only gives us a hint of what has been achieved here, but there is simply no mistaking the unique running style of Ronaldo or the carefully placed passes of Iniesta. They might not look quite so good close up, but as I said before, while FIFA specialises in recreating the look of football, Pro Evo once again appears to be doing a better job of capturing the essence of the sport.
Of course, these opinions are based solely on the demo, but unlike the majority of games, you can really get a feel for how the complete experiences will eventually compare. FIFA will almost certainly offer better game modes (despite Master League likely to be great), the online infrastructure will be far superior and it will invariably trounce Pro Evo when it comes to visuals (Pro Evo 2015 is a good looking game, but man, FIFA 15 really does look absolutely fantastic), but on the pitch, I’d honestly say that Pro Evo 2015 has, and will have, the upper hand.
Now, I’m sure many will proclaim me a fanboy at this point, but honestly, I own FIFA 14, have played just about every iteration since its inception back on the Mega Drive and plan to pick up the latest release at some point down the line – I just, well, I just prefer Pro Evo. Even in its darkest days at the start of the last-gen, enough of that old magic remained to make it my football game of choice, but now, I won’t be picking up the latest Pro Evo begrudgingly because of a simple personal preference, I’ll be picking it up because it delivers the better game of virtual football. Despite many false proclamations in the past, it appears that the king might finally be returning.
It will always lag behind FIFA in many respects and will never catch up in terms of sales figures, but out on the pitch, it might just win a few fans back to team Konami this year. EA’s, FIFA 15 appears to offer a very decent game of virtual football, but with its inconsistent defending and less refined attacking game, I for one will be more than happy to stick it out with North London vs. Man Blue at the Konami Stadium.
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