Editorial PES2013_FIFA14

Published on March 25th, 2013 | by David Bryant

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What FIFA 14 Can Learn From PES2013

FIFA’s commercial success over the last few years has I’m sure exceeded all of EA’s internal projections and because of this meteoric rise, the only game mentioned in the same breath as the latest FIFA title these days, is Call of Duty. In terms of sales anyway, but away from the media hype and meticulous financial reporting FIFA has just one true rival, a rival which EA ignore at their peril.

The demise of PES has been well documented since the turn of this console generation but the shoots of recovery have been evident more recently too. The promise of a new engine for PES2014 has raised expectations further but until Konami show their hand, what the future holds for PES still remains unclear.

What about the now seemingly forgotten PES2013 though? Well, I’ve spent some time playing it recently and as well as thoroughly enjoying myself it’s also shone a light on some of FIFA’s own deficiencies which EA could change without having to reinvent the wheel. So with that in mind, what can FIFA 14 learn from PES2013?

Space, Positioning and Pitch Dimensions

One of the first things I noticed when playing my very first game of PES2013 were the dimensions of the pitch. It feels absolutely massive compared to FIFA and the gameplay benefits from this extra space on a number of levels. The regulatory dimensions for a professional football pitch are freely available from both FIFA and UEFA so either Konami have artificially extended PES2013’s pitches beyond the norm, or EA have got it spectacularly wrong.

If anybody owns both games I urge you to try the direct comparison. Play any standard exhibition game of PES and then jump back to FIFA and play a game at the Emirates, a spacious pitch by any standards. The difference is stark, not only in overall pitch size (see 18 yard box, to corner flag distance), but player model size too. FIFA’s players look huge, and on a smaller playing surface it’s easy to see how problems with pressure and increased game speed come about.

Could some of this could be caused camera angles perhaps? In which PES goes for a more aerial view compared to FIFA’s flatter default camera position. Sadly, manually changing FIFA’s camera to mimic PES does little to explain-away this feeling of claustrophobia, it just feels and looks to small in comparison.

The benefits this extra space provides to PES are obvious in that you actually get thinking time on the ball. Not so much that you can amble but enough to allow your football brain, rather you’re your button reflex to dictate play. The additional room also means that formations can move organically, up and down, left or right as the ball position changes. This makes PES look more natural and the best example of PES2013’s better use of positioning is probably goal kicks. In PES the only player in camera shot for a goal kick is the goalkeeper. In FIFA there’s the goalkeeper, a full back four, a few attackers and most of midfield. Watch any football match; anywhere in the world and see for yourself which setup is closer to the real deal.

I found this lack of space the most frustrating element when going back to my beloved FIFA from PES, mostly because the problem at least on the surface seems so simple. PES has a bigger pitch; therefore it also has more time, space and freedom to play. FIFA in comparison feels cramped and its far superior animation fluidity only heightens the problem because the space you do have, becomes condensed that much quicker anyway.

After playing PES2013 I’m convinced now, more so than ever that EA must go back and look at fundamental pitch and player dimensions for FIFA 14. The difference between PES feels far too great for it to be artistic direction alone and if Konami have indeed artificially extended their playing area, it may be logical for EA to do the same.

Tackling and Jockeying

It’s been two years since Contain came to FIFA and when I first saw it in action at a very early web conference I was in awe of EA’s new jockeying system. But as the presentation on Contain was coming to a close, the systems one major flaw struck home. What if you can hold just a single button and mirror another player’s movement indefinitely?

That’s the battle EA have been fighting with Contain since its inception and what PES2013 has shown me, is that it’s probably time for Contain to depart. Konami don’t have a perfect jockeying system themselves, nor do they have one which is pushing technological boundaries, but for the most part, what they do have works. You hold “O” to jockey and everything else from lateral positioning, to how far you drop off is completely free and under your command with the analogue stick. To time a tackle you release “O” and then press “O” again and that’s it. It’s brutally simple but crucially it places the right amount focus on user ability allowing clear definition between good defensive positioning and bad defensive positioning.

Contain is a defensive crutch which needs removing from FIFA’s already extensive range of assists and I think the community would actually be very receptive should EA decide to get rid of it. One thing EA should keep is the initiation of a defensive jockey via the face buttons (rather than trigger) because transitioning from jockey to tackle feels much more natural this way. But apart from that, Contain should go and in its place, a simpler tackling mechanic which rewards user skill and intelligence should take over.

Player Locomotion

Before I delve in to this topic I’d just like to make one thing very clear, PES2013 does not have better locomotion physics than FIFA, in fact it’s probably PES’s worst and most glaring deficiency. The animation fluidity can be jerky at times, player torso’s and player legs still look like separate entities and transitions can feel very stop, start in certain situations.

What’s important though is that these minute delays between each animation in PES2013 actually add a more realistic feel to movement in terms of the time it takes for things to happen on screen. In FIFA 13 everything feels instant whether its turning, taking a first touch or passing, the entire game is alive with urgency and responsiveness. The engine is literally bursting to show you what it has to offer and that’s a brilliant thing. The trade off is that 90 degree turns direct from sprinting with no physical penalty are all too common in FIFA along with a host of other locomotion niggles exploited regularly online.

Like I said right at the start PES2013 doesn’t have brilliant foot planting tech, or advanced weight distribution physics but what PES does have, is the knowhow to make one of series biggest weaknesses in to one of its strengths, perhaps accidentally I don’t know? I’ve championed Locomotion improvements for FIFA both here and on FSB for well over a year now but as well as new technology like NHL’s “true performance skating” system I think EA also need to look towards the speed at which FIFA’s beautifully animated players move. Just a single frame added or subtracted could make all the difference in this finest of balancing acts.

Presentation and Licensing

It might seem a little odd for me to pick out licensing as a strength of PES2013 compared to the fully licensed FIFA game which is industry renowned for its authenticity. But this is less about the volume of licenses each game possesses on disk and more about what Konami have done with the licenses they do have, namely the Champions League.

When the Champions League mode starts up in PES2013 and that iconic music begins to play, it literally sends shivers down the spine. Not only because it’s the Champions League, but also because the boundaries between game and reality are blurring right in front of you – for a second, I’d forgotten I was on the Playstation.

After the rousing intro you then find that everything within the Champions League mode in PES2013 is custom built for Europe’s most prestigious competition.  Every menu, sub-menu, ad board, cut scene and league table is meticulously crafted around that single license and it’s a joy to play through. In fact, it feels like it could be a separate game entirely and that really is the hallmark of brilliant license utilisation.

For EA to do something similar with FIFA and all the weight of official licensing it carries would be a big challenge but it shouldn’t be viewed as an impossible one either. At the moment, besides an official logo and a different colour scheme we actually get very little bang for our buck with FIFA’s licensing power and PES2013’s Champions League mode really is the shining example for EA to follow.

Signing up leagues and teams to be licensed officially in your game is the easy bit, using those ingredients to create the feeling of regional diversity and bespoke atmosphere is much more difficult and at the moment, compared to The Champions League license at least, FIFA is some way off the pace.

Conclusion

Playing PES2013 has been an eye opening experience for me and having not played since PES 2008 and not bought it since PES 6 I have in part, managed to rekindle many fond memories of old. It’s a different experience to FIFA and it always has been but whilst FIFA is being railroaded by mass market dominance, PES seems to have stayed quietly within the same fundamental framework, some of which still surpasses EA’s technological advances even now. This single-minded approach has clearly held the game back in other areas too, but PES remains a very playable and very enjoyable football experience when it fires on all cylinders.

The issues around pitch and player model dimensions were the most alarming difference between the two games and discovering that alone has made this process worthwhile. I’d urge EA to look at this as a priority if they can and will make that point through the channels I have open to me. I’ve shared discussions around pitch size with EA devs in the past and the constraint as I understand it, is actually the stadium models, which would need to be re-modelled from scratch. That would represent a huge undertaking for EA but the potential benefits on offer I feel would perhaps ratify that effort and decision for them.

Football gaming news is soon to be swamped with Konami’s new PES engine and the FIFA 14 reveal but there’s still plenty of mileage left for me with this year’s crop of games. Ironically playing PES2013 has actually made me a better FIFA player (at least it seems to) so as hype builds for the next generational leap, I’ll be enjoying both games happily until September.

If you have any questions about my time with PES in general or the thoughts above, hit the comments.

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About the Author

Is the Senior Editor of FIFAInsider.com and a devout Manchester United fan. Likes Career Mode, constructive criticism, Jack Daniels and Robin Van Persie. Dislikes assisted passing, conspiracy theories and people who don't like Robin Van Persie.



  • Henryclay1844

    I’m curious what the celebration is like in Pes if you win the CL? In fifa winning any league or cup gives you the same flat, lifeless cut scenes with no added commentary.

    • http://twitter.com/KieranMurray93 Kieran Murray

      This has always been a real bug bearer of mine in FIFA titles as well. Found this video that shows the celebrations in PES

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XJdjbFKMcXM

      • Dave_FIFAInsider

        That YouTube clip shows you everything you need to know. PES has far better cup celebrations than FIFA.

      • goalski

        Dear god fifa is so far behind..

  • http://twitter.com/KieranMurray93 Kieran Murray

    The point about license utilization is something I have always noticed when I (infrequently) play PES. EA have they licenses for the Premier League, FA Cup and League Cup yet the way they integrate and design them into career mode is miles behind how PES have handled the Champions League. Perhaps EA used these licenses in such a low key and muted fashion as to avoid highlighting the fact that they themselves do not have the Champions League license. If they mimicked PES’s approach for stylizing and presenting the licenses they own in career mode but then used them alongside a bland and un-authentic version of the European Cup then it might show how glaring an omission the UEFA licenses are in an otherwise almost comprehensive list. This is a cynical yet possible reason for the dull and dreary way FIFA present their competitions. In saying that FIFA have usually utilized their World Cup licenses in a very positive and authentic way. Shame it takes a separate game and a £40 investment to experience FIFA with a competition that has a bit of life injected into it.

    Thought this was interesting article. Good to see suggestions on how FIFA can be improved through looking at already working examples that we know are feasible to add into the game.

    • Dave_FIFAInsider

      The licensing thing is interesting but I think with the volume of licenses EA have, dumbing down the lot because of one missing ( but crucial) license would be a pretty terrible idea. EA have more than enough official branding but as I said I fel they actually do very little with it.

      If EA were to maybe give this treatment to a few of the “top” leagues, EPL, Bundesliga, Serie A, etc, etc then they could then expand it over a few years to the rest of the game. Keeping it fresh would be a huge challenge but PES has definitely raised the bar.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100003152665073 Andre Costanza

    EA Should be worried especially with the PES announcement in the latest issue of Edge. All the fundamental issues with PES 2013 have been acknowledged and will hopefully be eradicated in most cases for PES 2014.

    Of course we haven’t heard anything about FIFA 14 (will they wait a year) or will they simply stick with the engine as it is and not take any risks which could play right into Konami’s hands if their game is a juggernaut in gameplay terms, which I believe it will be. And if they’ve worked on incorporating some of FIFA’s most loved modes like Clubs (yet sticking with the realism) they could be a shift in sales from segments of the market.

    We all know people now buy FIFA for very different reasons… whether it be FUT or Clubs if Konami has set up Master League Online to be more like FUT and their Legends mode to be more like Clubs (11v11) nothing wrong with copying working formula’s then it could be a very interesting battle on the next xbox PS4 and even the PC with PES now added to steam for the foreseeable future.

    It’s kind of annoying that FIFA 08 represents some of the best and worst work EA have done on the current systems, they had a base there they should have worked from that kept necessary parts of realism I wanted to see worked on. FIFA 09 was a lot more fun but at the cost of realism and it’s kept going that way, I’ve stuck with it mainly because PES lacked the social (online) infrastructure found on FIFA and am a huge Clubs fan (FIFA 09 or 10 can’t remember now) had it almost bang on (equal player ratings across all teams) and then it was down to player skill to decide the outcome (No bs GK’s) or modded pro’s…. and it worked well.

    Just like FIFA 07-08 signaled a rebirth for FIFA I feel the same way for PES now.

  • Pingback: FIFA 14 News |

  • David Monzon

    Sometimes I think the way EA presents all competitions from all the leagues and countries represented in FIFA such as the FA Cup, Champions League etc. actually reflects the way EA feels enthuastic about them. For example, I feel that all the people at EA do feel more passionate and full of fever and enthusiasm when the World Cup is approaching. The passion “gets to them” so this passion translates into their special WC edition FIFAtitles. That’s why you see more detail, glitter and overall more football passion in their WC titles.

    On the other hand, competitions such as the FA Cup, Premiership etc. are almost as if it wasnt really a football season for the guys at EA. I have a feeling that for EA the only real “football season” is the World Cup cause that’s when the vibe truly gets to them. No offence to EA but that’s my feeling. Maybe that’s why FIFA titles lack passion. Cup celebrations are really dead, no life or real passion behind them.

    I would recommend EA takes lots of trips to several countries around the world and attend matches. They should also mingle around club supporters and at least learn a little bit of history behind every league. Then maybe they can get motivated enough to at least give the “top” leagues a special treatment so that when you move from one league to the next, it feels different and it functions differently in every league. Also so that an FA Cup match feelsdifferent from a league match or CL match etc.

    Despite all this lack of passion I still give EA loads of credit for their excellent tech work and desire to please their fans. Hopefully we will see more life and passion as well as good use of licenses in FIFA 14.

  • mfmaxpower

    Nice article, I agree with all of it.

    Regarding pitch size, after switching from PES I complained about the lack of space in FIFA but the response was always the same: FIFA’s pitch-to-player size ratio is accurate to real life.

    Now, I’m with you: if a larger pitch improves gameplay, I don’t really care if it’s not perfectly accurate.

    • Dave_FIFAInsider

      I think this is the thing mate, EA have talked a lot in the past about making FIFA real but also making sure it remains fun as a game. If they need to take a little creative license with pitch sizes to make the “game” better then so be it. As long as things remain in proportion ratio wise, I can’t see it being an issue at all.

      • mfmaxpower

        Well that’s actually what kinda worries me: making the game better in our eyes might be making the game too slow or less exciting and fun in their eyes. So regarding the lack of space, while that might be frustrating to some of us, it might aid in making the game more action-packed, which might be the priority for EA. I just don’t know what their goals are.

        • Dave_FIFAInsider

          I think the core dev teams goal is to create the ultimate football sim, that’s certainly the impression I got at EAC anyway. But there are of course other factors to consider as well, like FIFA’s broader appeal, etc which are of little concern to us in all honestly. FIFA 14 will hopefully show where EA are going when it’s revealed and until then, I think we’re better off not guessing :)

          If the reveal is about player momentum, new team management, improved AI and positioning…. jump for joy.

          • http://twitter.com/SnstrMephisto Snstr Mephisto

            You know Miles Jacobsen (SI games football manager) complained about this. He said FIFA cheats and the players are giants. The Pitch is definitely small and the players are definitely big.

          • danny

            yea in certain stdiums the cam changes und make the players big like most english stadiums i have noticed dont like that

      • PANCHOTE21

        EA makes all the stadiums wrong in the pitch size. Have you ever noticed the big gap between the fans and the sidelines at the Santiago bernabeu? Look at the goal box’s distance from the fans on the side line compared to the real life distance.

  • shoulders

    There are two thingi would like to see, the first is an overhaul of the referring system. always seems to be bias to the computer, regardless of which level you play at, and the amount of advantage time after a foul seems to go on for an age for the computer. The second is to bring back the ability to dive, i know EA say its cheating, but so is sneaking the wall forward, it would be more realistc, how many times do we see Suarez and Bale do it this season alone??

  • nfsking2000

    I remember on the back of a FIFA box it was saying “Best football sim ever.”
    Well I think FIFA is not a sim. It is an arcade with freedom. Main issue of FIFA is dribbling, for me. Every player is like Messi, with zero error, perfect turns and pace.

  • yuuk eeee

    incredible article! I just hope ea read this and implement all these points!!, they have been slacking recent years fixing their own problems from recent “improvements” !

  • http://www.facebook.com/jack.reinikka Jack Reinikka

    I love everything about pes 2013, all that’s missing is the licenses for bundesliga and the EPL and it would be perfect. Although I know it is an extreme rarity for one game to have almost all the licenses! One thing I noticed about pes 2013 is that it has a certain latin presence about the game not only because of the licenses in the brazilain serie A, la liga, italian serie a, ligue 1 and the liga sagres but also the choice of menu music. Ai se eu te pegu definitely one of my favorites but it adds life and enjoyment to game the game even when your not in a match!

  • Makaay

    Ok I played the two games, and finally I decided that pes is more realistic than FIFA because :
    1- the player personalty , as the real football the differrent methods of playing football give the match more challenge and creative , so you will notice the different when you play as Ronaldo or robben , every one has his own dribble style.
    2- the sprint , you can push the ball the ammount you would in pes like the spring button is your feet , in FIFA all the players all the time push the ball constant distance and that is not real.
    3-the defence method , in pes you can be creative and more effictive at deffending by the same time quantity methods of defending , which will make matches more competitive .
    4-players reactions is very fast in FIFA so you cannot fool deffender by change your direction suddenlly

  • goalski

    For me PES not only does a much better job with the defensive AI and tactics, it also does one other thing better, which I think keeps it afloat. EA seem to see football as a bit of a money making machine where they aim for minimum effort, maximum gain. PES on the other hand really understands the ‘romance’ of football and works hard to portray this aspect. In FIFA you are left thinking, “what game is this again? Oh yeah, UCL semi final!” That will never happen in PES.

    In terms of passion, details, tactics, depth and immersion FIFA is a celebration of mediocrity.

  • showme theevidence

    nice to see a completely level headed conversation on these two games. I recently (may2013) bought fifa13 having been a pes devotee since the beginning of konami’s foray into football, namely iss on snes. and apart from dissapointment that there’s no champions league licence on fifa i’m loving it. i’ve already played 6 seasons at 20mins per match since may, i hate to think how many hours that is in two and a half months. I agree with your points though. pes has some great elements that fifa gets slightly wrong, and the pitch size on fifa does seem smaller.

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