Die-hard supporters of the Fifa and Pro Evolution Football (PES) football-simulation game franchises have been arguing for decades about which is the better football simulator.
Fifa 17 easily wins this aspect with its wide array of licences that covers almost all the major European leagues, including the English Premier League (EPL).
Furthermore, it has the stadiums of most of the EPL clubs. You even get to enjoy the sight of well-known coaches like Jurgen Klopp, Claudio Ranieri and Jose Mourinho patrolling along the touchline, instead of some random coaches.
With PES 2017, you are pretty much stuck with the old. Developer Konami did its best to catch up with Fifa 17 in terms of licensing. For example, it managed to secure licences for Liverpool (my beloved club), Arsenal, Barcelona and Borussia Dortmund.
It also has the licences for continental competitions that Fifa 16 lacks, such as the Uefa Champions League, Europa League and AFC Champions League.
But even in these licensed competitions, there are some fake teams with names like Quarpelather City that you have to play against.
Also, there are only a few stadiums that you can play in.
Plus, if you are a Manchester United or Manchester City fan, you have to put up with some ugly jerseys as well as being labelled Man Red or Man Blue.
Of course, you can change the names of the players, teams and managers to the correct ones, or manually patch the game with fan-made kits and team badges. But it is an arduous process.
Fifa 17 continues the sleek and streamlined presentation of its predecessors. The menu interface is much easier to navigate.
Interface-wise, PES 2017 can do better. Although the menu interface is not as messy as its predecessor, it does not look as sleek as that of Fifa 17. Some frequently used functions can do with a quick button too. For example, in Fifa 17, the save function can be accessed with a button. But in PES 2017, it requires an additional window in order to save a game.
GRAPHICS AND AUDIO
The graphics of Fifa 17 are gorgeous, with many of the well-known players' faces and the teams' jerseys faithfully reproduced down to the finest detail, such as hairstyles, facial hair and tattoos.
But some players have changed their hairstyles since.
Every time you start a match, it feels like you are watching a live match on TV. The stadiums are varied, the atmosphere with the audiences chanting feels authentic and the soundtrack leading to the game adds much excitement.
You can hear the Liverpool anthem "You'll never walk alone" being sung when you are playing in Anfield. Even the advertising boards will show the sponsors of the home club.
PES 2017, on the other hand, feels rather subdued. You don't hear the Liverpool anthem and there is no Anfield home ground despite Liverpool being one of the licensed teams.
Don't get me wrong. PES 2017's players are also well sculpted and resemble the real players. However, they lack the details, such as tattoos - not to mention it is not uncommon to see two players with the same face in the same team.
Commentary-wise, both games lack sustained variety. You will find the commentators in both games turning into broken records after just four or five matches.
For most football fans, gameplay is what really matters. In this regard, both games are neck and neck.
Fifa 17 sees some changes in the way you take set pieces. For example, you can adjust how you want your player to approach the ball when taking a penalty, before applying the power and changing the direction of your kick.
For corners, instead of adjusting the flight of the ball in the past, you move a reticle inside the penalty box to deliver the ball to.
I find all these changes to be unnecessary, though.
Using physicality to your advantage is important. Physically stronger players can shoulder-charge and barge off smaller players to win back the ball.
Fifa 17 is akin to Liverpool when it was under Brendan Rogers. The pace is slow and plodding. You need to be calculating in your build-up play, wait for your players to find space and send an accurate through pass to split the defence, before your player can score.
On the other hand, PES 2017 is Liverpool under Jurgen Klopp. Like its predecessor,the gameplay is fast and furious.
You need to make quick decisions while making short passes, before finding pockets of space to deliver that killer through-pass.
In fact, playing as Liverpool in PES 2017 is like watching the present team in action. You can see "gegenpressing", or counter-pressing, during the gameplay. It is exhilarating to see the likes of Adam Lallana and Roberto Firmino closing down the opposition to win back possession.
One quibble: While PES 2016 has the right goal celebrations for players, this year's version lacks such details. Instead, it is Fifa 17 that has got the right goal celebrations for different players, such as Daniel Sturridge's trademark dance and Robbie Keane's iconic cartwheel and forward roll.
Both games share one similar trait though - strict refereeing decisions. The referees will blow the whistle for the slightest trips or tackles.
Fifa 17 provides career modes, such as Manager mode, Player mode, Ultimate Team (creating your own team) and The Journey.
The Journey is like a role-playing game that traces the rise of a footballer from the time he was a young boy to when he became a legend, with cutscenes and nice voice acting along the way.
You even get to respond differently in conversations.
While PES 2017 provides almost similar kind of modes (with the exception of The Journey), they lack the polish of Fifa 17. The preparations between matches almost feel like an afterthought to get into the next match.
For instance, PES 2017's Become A Legend, which is similar to the Player mode of Fifa 17, does not even let you train to improve your stats. Instead, you can only shift points to change your attributes.
Online issues continue to plague the PES series. Even though the overall multiplayer online experience is better in PES 2017 compared with its predecessor, it is still too slow and laggy to the point that gameplay is hugely compromised. At times, I could not even find an opponent to play against. The server also went down a couple of times during the review.
On the other hand, Fifa 17 shines in the multiplayer realm. I could find opponents quickly and there was virtually no lag during the matches. There were also plenty of different multiplayer modes that I could play, ranging from seasons to creating or joining a club to play 11 vs 11.
Price: $69.90 (PC), $79.90 (PS4; Xbox One, version tested)
Genre: Football simulation
Price: $52 (PC), $69.90 (PS4, version tested; Xbox One)
Genre: Football simulation
Despite numerous sleepless nights playing Fifa 17 and PES 2017, I am still torn between the two. If gameplay is all you care, then the PES 2017 is the one to get. But in terms of overall presentation, graphics, licensing and multiplayer experience, Fifa 17 will be the one to pick.
This article was first published on October 19, 2016.
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