Gaming reviews: Football game shootout

Take your pick of gameplay or overall package

Fifa 18 (above) has more realistic player movement and distinct animations. For example, Fifa 18's cover boy Cristiano Ronaldo's actions in the game are exactly like what he does in real life. The lack of licensing in PES 2018 (below) is an issue and
Fifa 18 (above) has more realistic player movement and distinct animations. For example, Fifa 18's cover boy Cristiano Ronaldo's actions in the game are exactly like what he does in real life. PHOTOS: ELECTRONIC ARTS, KONAMI
Fifa 18 (above) has more realistic player movement and distinct animations. For example, Fifa 18's cover boy Cristiano Ronaldo's actions in the game are exactly like what he does in real life. The lack of licensing in PES 2018 (below) is an issue and
The lack of licensing in PES 2018 (above) is an issue and it just shaves off the realism when, for instance you play as Man Red instead of Manchester United. But it does have licences for several top clubs like Liverpool, Arsenal, Barcelona and Borussia Dortmund.PHOTOS: ELECTRONIC ARTS, KONAMI

It could go into extra time and penalties to decide between Fifa 18 and PES2018

Bitter rivalries are one of the recurring themes in football.

Think Liverpool vs Everton, Manchester United vs Manchester City, Real Madrid vs Barcelona and the list goes on.

It is the same in the virtual world with the Fifa series pitted against the Pro Evolution Soccer (PES) series every year. So, which is better this time? Fifa 18 or PES 2018?

MENU INTERFACE

Fifa 18 continues the sleek and user-friendly presentation of its predecessors. The menu interface is so easy to navigate that you know precisely where to go to play any mode, even on the first try.

On the other hand, and like its predecessors, PES 2018's interface does not look as sleek and welcoming. You have to go through the interface a few times before you remember where to go.

Some features require that extra joystick move and button press.

For example, the save function can be accessed with a button press in Fifa 18. But, in PES 2018, you need to scroll down a few bars and perform two button presses in order to save a game.

  • FIFA 18

    9/10

    RATING

    PRICE: $69.90 (PC), $79.90 (PS4; Xbox One, the version tested)

    GENRE: Football simulation 

    PES 2018

    9/10

    RATING

    PRICE: $69.00 (PC), $75.00 (PS4, the version tested), $75.40 (Xbox One)

    GENRE: Football simulation

PRESENTATION

The lack of licensing in PES 2018 continues to be the series' Achilles' heel. If you are a Manchester United fan, you have to play your beloved team with ugly jerseys and be called Man Red. Current World Club champions Real Madrid are known as MD White. Seriously? It just shaves off the realism.

That said, PES 2018 does havelicences for several top clubs like Liverpool (my beloved club), Arsenal, Barcelona and Borussia Dortmund, as well as continental competitions like the Uefa Champions League and Europa League.

You can edit the names of players and clubs yourself, or manually patch the game with fan-made kits and club badges. But it is a time-consuming process and you cannot change the design of the stadium.

Fifa 18 has every stadium of the English Premier League clubs. So when you are playing Manchester United at their own ground, you play on Old Trafford and experience its full glory.

In PES 2018, you have only a few "real" stadiums like Liverpool's Anfield or Barcelona's Camp Nou. Most of the time, you end up playing in Konami Stadium. A real downer.

GRAPHICS AND AUDIO PES

used to lag behind Fifa when it came to graphics. But this has not been the case lately. With the new data update released last week, PES 2018 is almost on a par with Fifa 2018 in terms of graphics.

The players in PES 2018 are well sculpted and those that are licensed resemble the real players. Even the hairstyles, facial hair and tattoos are faithfully reproduced, just like in Fifa 18. It's a tie here.

You can hear the Liverpool anthem You'll Never Walk Alone being sung when you are playing in Anfield in both games. But that's where the similarities end when it comes to match-day atmosphere.

Fifa 18 feels more authentic like a real live match, thanks to its vast licensing that allows starting line-up graphics and scoreboard.

You will also see the advertising boards showing the sponsors of the home club.

The "light-and-shadows" lighting effects also make the stadiums in Fifa 18 look more realistic and pitches more "grassy", instead of the flat lighting in PES 2018.

The audiences are also more lively in Fifa 18. They will jump in delight when their team scores a goal and, at times, even rush down to the goal scorer.

And they will put their hands on their heads when a goal-scoring chance is spurned. Overall, Fifa 18 just edges it on graphics.

But, in terms of commentary, both games continue to lack variety. You will know what the commentators are going to say after playing just four or five matches.

GAMEPLAY

To many football fans, gameplay is the tie-breaker between these two games.

Fifa 18 is quite an improvement over its predecessor in this aspect. You can pass the ball quickly, shield the ball from a defender and make a quick turn to lay a through pass. And you can actually whip in a cross from the flanks for a striker to finish off a fluid counter-attacking move - something almost impossible in Fifa 17. It brings it almost on a par with PES 2018.

On the other hand, PES 2018 plays almost like PES 2017, which is still fast and furious. The main difference being you can now jostle for possession and have better ball control. So the likes of Liverpool's little magician Coutinho tend to be barged off the ball.

However, Fifa 18 has more realistic player movement and distinct animations. For example, Fifa 18's cover boy Cristiano Ronaldo runs and dribbles in the game like he does in real life.

Being taller, Ronaldo sprints with bigger strides. A player like Liverpool's Mo Salah sprints with shorter strides but is able to turn and change direction more quickly.

But, on the whole, PES 2018 has a slight edge over Fifa 18 in terms of the way you can score goals.

It has that unpredictability that Fifa 18 lacks.

As gamers would understand, you will somehow know how to build up play in a certain way and score a goal with the Fifa series - after much practice, of course.

But, in PES 2018, there is no such standard formula. You can go "tiki taka" and pass to death before looking for an opening to score, or you can opt to absorb pressure from the opponent before launching a quick counter-attack to score. It feels more like the real game of football.

MODES

Here, Fifa 18 is the clear winner. Both games provide plenty of career modes, such as Manager mode, Player mode, and Ultimate Team (creating your own team) mode, but Fifa 18 has The Journey: Hunter Returns story mode. This is something PES 2018 lacks.

The Journey: Hunter Returns picks up from the original story in Fifa 17. It follows the journey of Alex Hunter (whom you play), who became a Premier League player by the end of the previous game.

This is like a role-playing game where you interact with characters played by real actors as well as past and present footballers like Rio Ferdinand and Dele Alli.

Every decision you make will shape your character and storyline. It makes you feel like you are the one going through the trials and tribulations of a football career.

•Verdict: If gameplay is your only consideration, go for PES 2018. But if you are looking for a better overall package, Fifa 18 is the game to get.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 11, 2017, with the headline 'Take your pick of gameplay or overall package'. Print Edition | Subscribe