PES or FIFA, FIFA or PES ? It’s the same question every winter, and we’ve reached a point now where it’s largely a meaningless one. Both franchises have overcome rocky patches to arrive at the level of polish they enjoy today, and, in broad brushstrokes, they play out the same but with the buttons for cross and shoot swapped around for giggles.

Fans know that beyond these sweeping similarities lie subtle differences in player movement and ball physics that drastically alter the rhythm of the matches, but it’s hard to say definitively that FIFA’s approximation of foot to ball is any better or realistic than PES’, or viceversa. It’s just different, and your preference is probably already deeply ingrained into your psyche, like your political leanings or whether you enjoy smooth or crunchy peanut butter. But if you’re a new or lapsed fan then here’s a simple test to determine which footy game is for you: which of the following two footballers do you most admire?


Contestant number one is your archetypal modern winger with bling encrusted ears and boots the colour of the sun, he begs to be watched, as does his style all mazy runs, stepovers and Hollywood through balls.

Or maybe you’d prefer footballer number two? He’s a holding midfielder, but not one of those cool ones who breaks legs with crunching tackles. He’s more the quiet type whose work goes unnoticed, but his safe touches spawn long chains of passes that cut through the opposition defence like a
football-boot stud through butter.

That’s the FIFA/PES divide in a nutshell, essentially: FIFA’s charms are flashier and more immediate, while PES 2015, with its focus on build up play, takes a little more work to love, but it’s a love that shines just as brightly for it. Crisper animations give its passing game a better rhythm than PES 2014, but the actual process of releasing the ball still feels a little sticky for our liking. PES 2013 on Xbox
360 still remains the gold standard for the series, for our money. Despite the next-gen version playing catch-up, it’s still a viable alternative to FIFA if you think that footballer number one sounds like a bit of a prat.