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 Fifa 06 Vs. Pro Evo 5












Title: Pro Evolution Soccer 5 & Fifa 2006

Format: PS2

Developer: Konami & Electronic Arts

Publisher: Konami & Electronic Arts

Region: PAL

Players: Various

Rating: 3+






Of all the arguments raging between gamers none have ever come close to the fierce debate between fans of FIFA and Pro Evo lovers (with the possible exceptions of Sega Vs Nintendo and Spectrum Vs Commodore 64). It's the gaming equivalent of the kind of rivalry between Liverpool and Man United supporters; both are blind to the oppositions good points, and are unwavering on the opinion that the other team are absolute scum. It all started back in the days of the SNES; FIFA International Soccer had already won many fans when Konami's International Superstar Soccer came out of the blue to capture the football crown. In the early days FIFA was the one with the real player names, the swish presentation and shallow gameplay, while ISS/Pro Evo had great depth but suffered from a lack of an official licence.


Since then, both series have had highs (ISS 64 & FIFA 98) and lows (ISS 2 & FIFA 03), they've each broken various sales records and the competition between them has got closer and closer. FIFA, while retaining it's fast action and easy scoring, has had areas like passing and tactics management slowly refined over the years to create a nice balance between realism and fun. Pro Evo on the other hand has got prettier with each instalment, added many official teams (forever ridding us of the dark days of Michael Gowen, Tony Admas and Kevin Keenan) and improved and rebuilt every aspect of animation and gameplay to create a flowing and very realistic representation of our beautiful game. So how do the new versions fare?


Graphically, the two series have reached a pinnacle for this generation. Both have instantly recognisable players, teams and stadiums. The presentation for menus and replays are typically excellent. Apart from slowdown issues, aesthetically, neither can be improved much more on current hardware. And to be honest the only big improvement that next-gen can bring with it would have to be in the sound department. Ultra-realistic players and individually rendered blades of grass are all well and good, but if in-game commentators are still calling for a penalty when you're in the centre circle on newfangled technology you'd have to ask whether the extra power is being focused in the right areas. For now I guess we'll have to settle with FIFAs new pairing of Clive Tyldesley and Andy Gray, who replace the long-standing partnership of John Motson and Ally McCoist. As long as Pro Evo doesn't try to one-up FIFA with an Andy Townsend/Ron Atkinson double act I'll be happy. That's the audio/visual side of things, most importantly, how do they play?


Well Pro Evo 5 has certainly seen the most subtle changes, despite being redesigned from the ground up. It features a smoother passing system, more on-the-ball touches and smarter AI. It is however, much harder than previous games. The slower pace is certainly makes it more realistic but it can be a little hard to get used to initially. Players feel like they're wading knee-deep in treacle as they go from one end of the pitch to the other. What is more apparent is that running has more of an impact to your speed and as you find yourself using it more the stamina bar becomes integral to your tactics in each game. There are moments when you need to pass the ball around a bit to let your players recover their breath, which runs the risk of giving the opposition a chance from a poor pass, its yet another element that is so finely balanced it's extraordinary.


This is just one example of a subtle tweak that completely changes the whole gameplay dynamic and is one of the reasons each Pro Evo game feels so fresh without ever needing any major overhaul. The other main tweak that helps ramps up the difficulty is the shooting system. While it's now slightly easier to keep a shot on target, the increase in Goalkeeper intelligence means it'll be a while before you see the goal bulging from a super 35-Yard effort. Even on lower difficulty settings the Goalies don't have as many David James moments as before; flapping at an easily saved shot and dropping it right by the other team's star striker. It will feel frustrating at first but knowing you've had to work harder does make each goal that little bit more special. What was nice to see as well was a moment in one of my first matches where the other team's Goalie had a little Tim Flowers moment, where the ball, apparently rolling leisurely towards him, suddenly hit a divot on the pitch and bounced over him. It wasn't even a bug: the goalie actually reacted to the balls change of direction and for the rest of the match was booed by his own supporters! I just love the little touches like these, especially when I get a goal out of them.


FIFA on the other hand has had some pretty obvious cuts and additions. Gone is the clunky ‘Off The Ball' feature and say hello to a new in-depth management mode. Despite being one of the biggest changes in recent additions, EA have bitten the bullet and gotten rid of all traces of OTB control. It was a nice idea but just wasn't implemented very well and slowed play considerably. It just sat uncomfortably next to the heart of the gameplay, which was ostensibly quick and arcadey. Elsewhere, the set pieces have now been revamped with a far more versatile and accessible menu-driven interface. You are now able to deliver a corner with higher accuracy and curling free kicks from 30 yards out has never been easier, although the ‘sweet spots' abundant in previous FIFAs are thankfully, mostly, missing. Gone too are the problems with passing, which is more fluid, and tackling seems improved, although the hard tackle is still a little too heavy-handed, especially as the referees are tougher this time around.


One thing EA haven't seemed to mention much of is the trick system, which is strange (it's quite out of character for them not to highlight aesthetic elements) seeing as it feels like they've had some intense tweaking. They still look snazzy, and will no doubt cause your friends to scream out indignantly when you use them, but they're now useful in many scenarios, feeling less superficial than before. There are all the usual tricks on hand, including the ‘lollipop' popularised by Manchester United's winger Christiano Ronaldo and, umm, Ron Atkinson. In a stroke of unparalleled realism, Ronaldo can't do the trick more than three times without falling over. Nice touch EA, nice touch.


Off the pitch, EA have made significant improvements to the management and tactical side of play. It now contains many of the features in the Total Club Manager series, with transfers, finances and player moral seeing the most work. One innovative aspect EA have included is team chemistry; gone are the days when you can buy twenty of the worlds top players and conquer the world. Now, players get restless if you keep them on the bench or bring in a bigger name in their position; the flip side being a moral boost to your team if you can bring in a player with a good reputation. Its possible to create a really good team with cheaper players, as long as they get on with each other, and replicate Charlton or Wigan's recent seasons.


Whichever game you choose, you can't really go wrong to be honest. It's likely that many of you reading will have already made up your minds but I would recommend approaching both with an open mind. Personally, Pro Evo just pips it for me but the latest FIFA is one of the best yet.














Score:












































Gameplay: 9.5

« Pro Evo 5
Gameplay:
9.0
Graphics: 9.2
Graphics:
9.1
Audio: 8.5
Fifa 06 »
Audio:
8.9
Lifespan: 9.4
Lifespan:
9.0
Total: 9.2
Total:
9.0

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