Right off the bat...
Let's start with the big question right off the bat. When you're looking to buy a football, or in North American terms a soccer game, the biggest contestants every year are Konami's Pro Evolution Soccer and EA's FIFA series. While each game has its own set of flaws and perfections, I can easily say FIFA has always won out. The mechanics are generally a little smoother, the visuals carry themselves, and the licensed teams adds to the authenticity. While Pro Evolution Soccer, or PES, hasn't received bad reviews, it's just held up consistently beside EA's monster. While the release of a PES inevitably alludes to the release of a new FIFA, the decision is simple. FIFA wins out once more this year, but not by much.
What is it missing?
Before I delve into what the game has, I want to explain why this great game is a much better rental than it is a buy. For someone whose favourite league is the English Premier League, not having the teams proper names when scrolling through was an annoyance which could not have been avoided. This is due to the licensing issue Konami has encountered time and time again. Since EA and FIFA have partnered up to create soccer games, Konami has had to purchase the rights to certain teams. Not only is it an expensive facet to the game, it's also an impossible feat to think FIFA would sell the rights to a competitor when they have teamed up with EA. That being said, it continues to play a big part in the game play experience. If I wanted to play as Liverpool, I would not be able too. In the English Premier League for example, only five teams are fully licensed. This means that although I could play as a team which encompasses all that is Liverpool, I could not actually play as the particular team. Quite frankly, it's a shame, because this game has so much untapped potential.
It's also on a lower playing field when it comes to the graphics. By lower playing field, of course, I mean they are some of the worst sports graphics I've seen in a while. While it's understandable to not put an extreme amount of emphasis on player detail when the game is in play, it's inexcusable at all other times. When a player scores a particularly sweet goal, the replay you can shove in the face of your friends is just as fun as the game. I would play as AC Milan and watch in utter disappointment as Giampaolo Pazzinni would deliver a fantastic strike and the image of him looked nothing like the real player. With EA games, including FIFA but not limited too, the players in game had uncanny resemblances to their real life models. While this may seem trivial, when playing a sports game and controlling some of your favourite players, the closeups become a huge factor.
What has it got than?
This game has an abundance of excellent qualities which should not be overlooked. For one, the mechanics of the game alone are phenomenal. When I aim for the net and deliver a shot, the ball glides towards the exact destination I wanted it to go. This simple mechanic is a toss up in many games. How accurate is the aim going to be? How hard must I kick or pass this ball? Should I hit square or circle? With PES, the thinking which usually occurs in the back of my head disappeared. I could just play the game and trust the AI to understand what I was doing. This isn't surprising though. Konami's AI has always been impressive, from the Castlevania series to the Metal Gear franchise, the AI has always been receptive
It also has some interesting features which make the game flow incredibly well. One small aspect which I absolutely loved was the card system. When your player received a yellow card in the game, his name placed above his head would change from white to yellow. In a particularly difficult game, this can make a huge difference. The training section of the game has been drastically improved as well. While I find the FIFA training feature to be complicated at points, PES carries through easily and makes the mundane task interesting. One of my favourite aspects to the game is the save the replay option which appears after a goal is scored. Again, one of the biggest parts to sports games is the friendly banter and mocking. With the replay saving feature, not only can you mock your friends, you can also brag to the rest of the world. Your replays can be uploaded to both Xbox Live and the Playstation Network for viewing later, and of course, much needed bragging rights.
How about the fun scale?
Often times in reviews, I find the most important aspect overlooked and replaced with technicalities. The most important question is of course how fun is the game to play? The answer to that is simple; this game is extremely fun. I sat down with both family and friends and played this game for hours without growing bored. As a true “football” fan, this game played well into what I expected and the only problems were technical ones based on finance, not development.
Is it worth the buy?
As much as I loved this game, FIFA 13 came out on top once more. The availability of all the teams is such an important factor, it can't be overlooked. The graphics in this game were not up to the standards I expected them to be, and it ruined some pivotal moments in the game. For $60 dollars it may be wiser to go with FIFA, but when this game goes down in price, it may be worth while to add to your collection if you're a huge soccer nut.