This week, we’re taking a look at presentation.
Fraser Gilbert’s Take: Some would have you believe that the differences in presentation between FIFA 17 and PES 2017 are monumental. I don’t agree with that view. While there’s a definitive victor, both games offer different pros and cons from a presentation standpoint.
Let’s start with the positives. FIFA 17 occasionally emits a visual spectacle unlike any other sports game on the market. There are times when it’s easy to be dazzled by its offerings, normally as a result of the incredible lighting effects provided the Frostbite engine — something the engine has often been notable for with other titles like Battlefield. You can’t fail to be impressed by the way shadows reflect off the pitch and sweat drips down the face of a Premier League superstar.
Throughout the course of my FIFA 17 review, I returned to play last year’s game for comparison reasons, and the noticeable difference in presentation was substantial at times. It also brought a few things to light that FIFA 17 has struggled with. In particular, I find the crowd to be a major drawback in this year’s game. While the audio element of crowd participation has been considerably updated, the visual aspect has faltered, creating a detachment between the two. It culminates in a scenario in which crowds don’t feel like a part of the immersion.
This isn’t something that manifests itself in PES 2017, although it could be argued that many of the presentation aspects of Konami’s game feel underwhelming when compared to EA’s offering. I felt that PES 2016 struggled in terms of presentation, but improvements have been made to make this year’s game a better experience in this area. I’m particularly enthralled by its upgrades to in-game cutscenes and replays, the latter of which plagued last year’s game with agonizingly slow recaps.
In general, player faces look great in PES, and animations are really smooth across the board. Still, PES is known for its gameplay for a reason. While PES 2017 excels on the pitch, it struggles to do the same with much of its presentation. It’s quickly noticeable that stadiums lack diversity and detail. The in-game audio is decent, but crowd chants fail to provide authenticity on a team-by-team basis. The series’ announcers have also come in for some criticism in recent years, and while I don’t think they’re bad, they’re still too repetitive for my liking. Finally, menus lack polish and might be seen as overly complicated by some.
In my view, FIFA 17 takes the victory in the presentation department. The Frostbite engine has done wonders for the series’ visuals, and PES is unable to boast the same level of detail at this moment in time.
Kevin Groves’ Take: Presentation is one area in which PES 2017 still struggles quite a bit. From infrequent statistical layovers to the poor chemistry of Drury and Beglin, PES 2017 struggles to create an immersive experience apart from its solid gameplay. We’re only a month in and I can already envision myself turning off PES’ commentary in the near future. While I don’t mind Drury when he calls a match on TV, his lines, as well as Beglin’s, often have to run their course despite there being action on the pitch that needs commentary. If it weren’t for the looped-in crowd noise and the 50-50 crowds, disabling the commentary would have been a given.
In other areas like the crowd visuals, I do believe PES has a leg up on FIFA where supporters are often seen wearing short-sleeved shirts despite mid-winter matches in countries like England and Germany. Sure these countries are known for their propensity to knock a few back pre-match, but surely not everyone in the stadium is going to wake up the next day with a hangover. FIFA has the stronger commentary, even if we have to hear about Paul Pogba’s transfer to Man United a hundred times in career mode.
Visually the Frostbite engine has propelled FIFA way beyond PES and its Fox engine. While the faces in PES are very lifelike, the washed out skin tones and blocky shorts leave a lot to be desired. Pitch lighting, shadows and pitch designs all look superb this year in FIFA, especially given the greater number of authentic stadiums. I am generally a fan of PES’ approach to photo-realism with less vibrant colors, but when switching inputs back and forth between FIFA and PES using the same teams in the same stadium, I can’t help but to give FIFA the edge here.
Menus are a no brainer. While PES revamped their top layers a few years back, the sub-menus still remain very outdated and cumbersome. Trying to do routing tasks such as setting up a friendly match lobby turns into a five-minute endeavor as you navigate through servers and the inevitable “testing NRB connection.” This year it appears FIFA went for a more crunched menu as the options are centered, allowing for some background visuals. Overall, FIFA’s menus are easier to navigate, and in general, more logical.
Lastly, animations are an area where I think PES 2017 wins out. While FIFA 17 has a larger animation database, it’s the speed at which they play out — even with the gameplay speed on “slow” — that just looks off. Players’ legs move at a cartoonish rate, perhaps in-tune with a lesser sense of weight and inertia than PES 2017. PES 2017 isn’t immune to criticism when it comes to animations as you’ll occasionally see sliding/warping, especially when shooting, but the overall improvements Konmai has made in this department are worth noting. PES’ Player ID goes a long way towards making you visually believe you’re watching a live match.
Overall, I agree with Fraser’s assessment in that the Frostbite engine has really made its mark on the series and allows FIFA 17 to get the edge when it comes to presentation and visuals.
Winner: FIFA 17