Modern video games can have all the flashy graphics, real-world presentation skills or licenses they want, but some gamers still favour pure gameplay over everything else. If you're one of those people and enjoy the basic game of football more than how many polygons some punter in Row Z has, then PES 2018 should be your game this year.
When it boils down to gameplay, FIFA 18 can't touch PES, and not just because of the scripting issues touched on earlier. CPU opponents aren't as sly, nor do they react as quickly to your tactics, but those aren't the only things PES has going for it over EA's monster. Simply passing, shooting and running with the ball all feel more joyous in Konami's title.
Tactical tweaks feel like they make a difference too. PES 2018 is as close as we're going to get to that mix of Football Manager-like simulation and arcade-style on-the-pitch action. FIFA 18 likes drama, but PES doesn't mind if even the world's best players have a stinker every now and then or play out a bore 0-0 draw.
Winner: PES 2018.
FIFA 18 just shades it 4-3.
In other words, this is like that classic Liverpool vs. Newcastle match from 1996, last-minute Stan Collymore winner and all. It's close though, mainly because PES 2018 actually plays a better game of football than FIFA 18. Those licences, the deeper Career Mode, the thrills and spills of The Journey 2 and the zippier feel to online play in EA's game make it king, but only just.
If you could take the pure gameplay from PES and put all of FIFA's pomp and circumstance on top of it, you'd have the ultimate footy game. Eliminate EA's love of scripting into the bargain, put a bit more polish on Konami's product and we'd be in digital footy dream land.
As referenced during the intro, choosing between FIFA and PES is still a matter of personal preference. EA's corporate approach is a million miles away from Konami's more humble game in terms of playing as real teams in real leagues, but if that's not important to you then PES is a decent shout.
We still think you should stick with FIFA this year unless gameplay is all that matters. After all, there's something to be said for banging them in at the actual stadiums you visit every other Saturday, then kissing the badge on your team's real strip.
Who wants to play for North East London anyway?
What do you think? Let us know in the comments what you're picking up, why, and if you've also played both!