Can PES finally rake FIFA’s shins?

Football in 2014 has been absurd. Man Utd suck. Brazil suck harder. Wenger actually wins a trophy. Taken in that context, the idea PES may finally fell FIFA isn’t unthinkable. Indeed, Konami’s debut PS4 footy feast already plays a crisper game than any of  the PS3 titles. 

From our hands-on with an advanced preview build of PES 2015, we’re happy to report the race for this season’s PS4 Paint Trophy could go to the wire. PES is unlikely to play in the same sales division as EA’s Goliath how could it when FIFA 15’s marketing budget is funded by a conglomerate of Richie Rich, Donald Trump and Mr Burns? But there are areas on the pitch where it tackles its rival to the turf.

For one, Konami’s shooting and passing models are more nuanced than FIFA 15. Unlike last year, you can truly feel the benefit of the FOX Engine. Animations have been significantly improved and look more natural. Players also feel more individual than in FIFA, both visually and to control; top stars such as Ronaldo sport bespoke animations.

And while FIFA may have scanned hundreds of pros’ faces this year, PES’ best likenesses are in a league of their own. Quite the feat seeing as PES European brand manager Adam Bhatti confirmed to us, “they are all drawn in-engine by our artists.”

Admittedly, the new My Club twist on Master League, which supports Microtransactions to buy better players, is a bit of a worry. The licensing gap is also cavernous in FIFA 15’s favour (read our review on p78). Yet there’s a reason the cult of PES persists: it’s still a damn good football game.

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