FIFA '08 Vs PES 2008

   04/09/2007 at 20:40       Richard Horne       41 COMMENTS.
Match Build Up

It feels almost clichéd to start a preview of both FIFA 2008 and Pro Evolution Soccer 2008 (PES 2008 from now on) by stating how in recent years the gap between the two has continued to close. The FIFA series seems to represent a more mainstream and highly polished, but ultimately shallow and flawed model that constantly plays second fiddle to PES's initially underwhelming and only apparently marginally updated, but ultimately deep, rewarding and fulfilling model. And while for many years, PES seemed to always metaphorically win 2-1, last year's disappointing iteration (mainly the 360 version) means that in many gamers' eyes, the score in last year's final was 1-1.

So could this finally be the year that the tide turns? That it's no longer men against boys. That in a game of two halves, one side gives it 110%. And that the FIFAs the PESs and the Sensibles of the world put in a forward's tackle with their favourite left foot, to make it a magical night in [insert glamourous European destination]? While covering every single blade of grass, working their socks off, so that at the end of the day one side can pull the trigger to score from an impossible angle and break the hearts of the brave and plucky loser who will no doubt receive the hairdryer treatment from the gaffer?

Damn. I got so carried away in football prosaism that I've completely digressed from the original point I was trying to make, which was maybe this could be the year that EA's FIFA series finally manages to snatch a winner in the last minute.

Well at this point it's difficult to tell, but on paper (Jesus I can't help myself), FIFA just might edge it this year, particularly when you consider some of the new additions, many of which will be outlined below.

Thread Bare Squad News

Both FIFA '08 and PES 2008 will be released across all major formats including PS2, PS3, PSP, PC, DS and Xbox360. While on Nintendo's all conquering Wii things aren't quite as straight forward. FIFA '08 will be released on the Wii along with all the other versions but will feature significant changes which I'll be examining in more detail later. But it's a good news, bad news day for Wii owning Pro Evo stalwarts. The good news being that Konami is working on an enhanced Wii version of the game but the bad news being that it will not be released until most likely the end of the first quarter of 2008.

"We are extremely keen to introduce PES to as wide a selection of football fans as possible, and the Wii and its unique abilities are a perfect fit," commented Jon Murphy, Pro Evolution Soccer Team Leader for Konami Digital Entertainment GmbH. "The potential for PES on the format is enormous, and we look forward to a very exciting start to 2008."

The Wii version of FIFA '08 will have further Wii specific enhancements such as Wii Remote functionality - allowing you to perform throw-ins and dead ball actions with the Wii remote, the incorporation of Nintendo's very popular Miis and 3 Football Party Mini games including a fun looking table football game.

FIFA 1 - 0 PES

Our Commentary Team

Jon Champion and Mark Lawrensen will be on duty for Konami while the Sky dream team of Andy Gray and Martin Tyler are re-united to take the microphone for Electronic Arts.

Pro Evo's commentary has largely been entertainingly laughable which always tends to adds a sort of charm to the series but there's no doubt that the commentary in the FIFA games has seen continually improvement with EA's spin off Champions League 2006/2007 title particularly worthy of praise for the in-the-main excellent commentary and banter from Clive Tildsley and Andy Townsend.

FIFA 2 - 0 PES

Online Coverage

PES 2008 continues where it left off last year - though with respect to the 360 version, here's hoping that it actually doesn't continue where it left off, as the lag and slowdown made it unplayable for a lot of people, myself included. But it will feature the usual 1 on 1 matches. But rather disappointingly, at this point in time there's no evidence to suggest the game's online elements are anything more advanced than the absolute minimum.

FIFA on the other hand seems to be heading positively in the right direction as this year it's possible for anything upto 5 vs 5 online, with EA astonishingly predicting it will be successfully integrating 10 vs 10 into its games by 2010. There's finally the option to create online leagues and tournaments with your friends and strangers the world over. As well as the opportunity to represent your favourite club online against rivals in the F.A. Cup, the newly branded Premier League (remember - you can't call it the Premiership anymore), the Bundesliga, the French League and rather bizarrely the Mexican 1st Division. This new addition to the series means a football team will be cumulatively positioned in the league depending on how many games players representing that particular team won. Which sounds like a fantastic idea but will no doubt be useless to me as an unfortunate Leeds United fan.

FIFA 3 - 0 PES

Full Time Highlights

Konami caused much consternation among the PES community last year by completely removing the option to save replays of goals from the Xbox 360 version. Websites like have created fantastic Pro Evo commmunites by running regular goal of the month competitions and by hosting their excellent video tutorials. The removal of this option from the 360 version meant gamers had to resort to playing the game on their PCs for easier video capture. And while Konami is yet to confirm or deny whether this option will return to this year's 360 version, it's safe to assume that based on its past history, its return will most likely be at a most basic level if at all.

FIFA '08 on the other hand will rather marvellously allow gamers to capture their best goals and match highlights and upload them for the world to see. It will then be possible to use the FIFA '08 website to create highlight reels which can also be downloaded and passed among your friends.

FIFA 4 - 0 PES


Electronic Arts pretty much has a monopoly when it comes to licensed teams, leagues and stadiums and this year is no exception. Konami has undoubtedly worked hard to improve its own roster over the last few years and this year sees a slight improvement with the full licensing of Newcastle United and Tottenham Hotspur. However the rest of the English League will again be made up of Merseyside Red, London Blue et al.

FIFA 5 - 0 PES

New Additions

With PR for both games slowly reaching full steam ahead, there's a whole raft of exciting press releases doing the rounds at the moment emphasising miniscule additions as life changing modifications. But in amongst all that spin, there are actually a few impressive changes being made to both games.

FIFA '08 will this year allow for full and proper manual control of passes, crosses and through-balls by using one of the trigger buttons as a modifier. For the first time ever it should be easy to control pin point slide-rule passes as well as crosssing the ball to a specific player, in a specific position rather than hitting the cross button and hoping for the best.

Konami seems to be blowing its own trumpet in praise of its new Teamvision AI system which apparently monitors players' onscreen movements, continually adapting the AI's tactics accordingly. Which is meant to make for a more considered and strategic game of football!

While EA has its own new system called Intelligent soccer, apparently "...featuring AI with a 35-point decision engine which enables players to process 1,000 potential options and reactions every second in real time -- more than 60,000 options every minute -- via a dynamic 'Threat Map' system to capture the excitement and realism of soccer."

PES 2008 features an updated, enhanced and increased in options new set-piece model with more control given to the other players as well as increased control over defensive walls. While the game's aesthetics have been upgraded considerably, which let's face it, after the PS2-alike 360 version from last year was much needed.

"We have taken a long hard look at what has made the Pro Evolution Soccer series so popular, and where we want to take it next," commented Shingo 'Seabass' Takatsuka, creator of the series and Producer of PES 2008. "With the new Teamvision AI system, we truly believe that we have elevated the game to a new level. The movement of players off the ball, coupled with the total control given to the player, creates the closest simulation of real football to date. We really hope everyone enjoys our evolution. I promise it will be worth the wait."

The updates don't stop there either. No doubt belatedly inspired by Namco's 1997 game Libero Grande, there's a new mode in FIFA called Be A Pro which sees you controlling a single player for the entirety of a match. This mode seems also bizarrely inspired by Gears of War, as the dynamic camera used to track your player's movements is very reminiscent of the 'roadie run' camera from Epic's masterpiece. FIFA also seems to be taking a leaf out of Fight Night Round 3's book by allowing you to again use modifiers and both analogue sticks to string together special moves and tricks in what it describes as an "organic building block system". It's best explained by viewing the video below and while initially appearing to be a rather excellent addition will have to be played thoroughly before it's possible to make an accurate judgement.

FIFA 6 - 0 PES

As this preview has most definitely gone well beyond extra time and penalties, it's time to conclude by sitting on the proverbial fence. From its specifications alone and goals scored in the above face-offs, FIFA appears miles ahead of Pro Evo in terms of content and innovations, but what's traditionally separated the two has always been the more complex and rewarding gameplay of the latter. While FIFA games were often dominated by cheap goals scored from sweet spots, Pro Evo's goals have always felt hard earned and genuinely well worked by your team. But with the last two or three incarnations in the series receiving only relatively incremental updates, the general consensus seems to be that Konami has to get this year's version of the game perfected or a large percentage of its fans will have no choice but to do the unthinkable and change sides to FIFA with its enticing options and vastly superior presentation.

I've always been a Pro Evo guy myself but as I said in my opening statement, this really could be FIFA's year. The ironic thing being that it usually takes a competitor to make EA pull its finger out and genuinely innovate its otherwise stale franchises, but the football boot seems to be on the other foot as this time around it's EA trying to force its opponent to innovate. I look forward to playing both games properly upon their respective releases in September and October.

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