Moving from PES to FIFA is like switching from an iPhone to an Android phone, or from an Xbox controller to a PlayStation one. The experience isn’t necessarily better or worse, but it is different in a hundred tiny ways.
Long passes are more accurate, slide tackles are riskier, crosses are deadlier and keepers parry the ball just a little more often. It’s been a couple of years since I last tried Konami’s interpretation of the beautiful game, and my FIFA-ised muscle memory meant I spent the first couple of hours continually dropping passes too short and belting free kicks into the stands.
These differences aren’t just idiosyncrasies, though. When added together, they dictate how you play. In last year’s FIFA I favoured short, quick, possession passes, but the longer I spent with PES, the more ambitious my passing became. PES 2018 really nails the joy of an expertly lofted long pass, and that feeling inevitably influenced my decisions. Soon my game became more and more reliant on the risky killer ball or the whipped in cross, less Champions League and more FA Cup.
On the defensive side things were almost the opposite. The aforementioned slide tackles are very difficult to pull off, and likely to result in a card. So I adopted a more conservative style, gently jockeying the player on the ball rather than stepping in to take it away. It’s a perfectly good system, but I can’t help but miss the satisfaction of a well timed tackle.
But let’s talk about the elephant in the room:
the PC port. While it’s safe to say that PES still regards the personal computing machine as a strange and alien concept (I had to go into the game folder and hunt for a separate settings executable just to change my resolution) this is no longer a ‘last gen port’.
Unlike last year, PES 2018 looks every bit as good on PC as it does on the PS4 and Xbox, possibly even better
on the highest settings. For those that want to capture the perfect screenshot, it also includes Nvidia’s Ansel technology.
There was a time when FIFA was noticeably the better-looking of the duelling football games, but that isn’t true any more, with only PES’s telltale licensing restrictions (Man Blue vs West Midlands Village, anyone?) making the difference apparent.