FIFA v Pro Evo 2011 – let battle commence

Could this be the year you switch allegiances?

The challenge facing EA when they were planning FIFA 11 must have been similar to that facing a top football manager after a successful season. Change too much, and you may lose what made you great in the first place. Change too little, and you could stagnate and allow your rivals to catch up.

Konami, meanwhile have a pretty huge task on their hands. Once title challengers, their form has slipped in the past few years to the point where few could see them winning the title race this time around – though their past pedigree means you can never rule them out entirely.

I got my hands on FIFA 11 last month and was very pleased with what I saw – the game has built on the successful features of 2010 World Cup, feeling different but still reassuringly familiar.

Aside from the obvious cosmetic tweaks – the new pitch and player likeness are really something to behold – and hundreds of small tweaks most gamers will never notice, it’s the gameplay which feels like it’s received the most attention.

Passing in particular has been revamped, hopefully eradicating the ‘ping-pong’ passing problems which irked so many FIFA 10 players. You can no longer tiki taka your way through opposition defences with all but the most limited of teams – it requires real skill to weight passes appropriately to string moves together.

I’d imagine this will place the focus back on dribbling and player skills as the key to unlocking the opposition – better start boning up on your rabonas and Cruyff turns.

My Pro Evo demo crashed during download (definitely a sign) but as usual Konami are promising their best ever release. It’s unlikely to match FIFA in terms of presentation and finesse, but I’m sure it will still maintain a decent fanbase with its alternative interpretation of the beautiful game.

Dipping into both series over the past year, it’s as hard as ever to define exactly what differentiates them both in terms of gameplay. FIFA, to me, feels more fluid, but slower. Meanwhile I’ve found it harder and harder to score great goals on Evo, but easier to keep clean sheets.

A year ago now I wrote an article in which I confessed my loyalty to the Evo franchise – ultimately that loyalty was short-lived once FIFA’s superior online play and ability to create more cultured passing moves won me over. I’m now a FIFA man, through and through – something I never thought I’d hear myself say. Well, write.

With the both demos now out, you’ve all had a chance to sample both offerings. Could this be the year that you switch allegiances? Or do you already know who’s got your £40 come the first week of October?

FIFA 11 is released on 1 October . Pro Evolution Soccer 2011 is released on 8 October

Games

Jack Arnott

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