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duminică, 3 octombrie 2010

Fifa 2011 versus Pro Evolution Soccer 2011

The two biggest football franchises in gaming – EA'S Fifa and Konami's Pro Evolution Soccer (PES) – have been going head-to head for more than a decade. Each, appropriately for the genre, generates fierce rivalry among fans dedicated to supporting their chosen title. So, as the two face off once again, which has the edge this year?

After years of lacklustre Fifa releases, EA rediscovered its form two seasons ago with a new look and feel. We got exquisite ball control, realistic player movements and challenging, but convincing, computer opposition – a deadly combination with its licence from the organising body, which gives it all the rights to real player names, tournaments and stadiums.

With Fifa 11 (Xbox 360, PS3, Wii, PC, cert: 3, out now), the adjustments have become more subtle, fine-tuning the gameplay to feel substantially more physical, both when fending off defenders or competing for the ball. It also moves away from summer's World Cup edition, which made it far too easy to score. The play is more balanced, sending crisp passes across the turf feels more deliberate, allowing you to build up moves before delivering through balls. Heading, a skill never quite mastered in previous versions, is more controllable, making tall and powerful players essential. Shooting is also more realistic with drives from outside the area harder to keep down while retaining power and placement – emphasising skill, timing and precision. This makes scoring more satisfying and goal celebrations all the more acrobatic.

PES 2011 (Xbox 360, PS3, PC, Wii, cert: 3, out Friday) feels like a long lost friend: familiar, but different – eager to win back fans. The new clean-looking menus and the exhaustive management selection options are an immediate improvement; a far cry from the garish screens from last year. But it's on the pitch that PES shines. PES10 was virtually unplayable, with frustrating player movement and hopeless ball control, yet the entirely new player modelling and movement system, rebuilt having asked fans for their ideas, feels both responsive and reassuring – faithful to the PES of old.

At the end of the day, it's a close call, so perhaps the question is: which will you still be playing in six months time? An edge that has to go to Fifa (see below) but PES is a vast improvement, which bodes well for a franchise that only recently looked like it was on its way out. The rivalry continues and football fans, who know a thing or two about that, are all the richer for it.

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