It cannot be said that Konami’s Pro Evolution Soccer series has done badly. If anything, the series – by any normal standard – has done exceptionally well. However, for hardcore fans like myself, Pro Evolution’s continued overshadowing by EA’s FIFA series is still a point of contention.
Whilst Pro Evolution has a large and solid fan-base, it has continually been beaten by FIFA as the causal video-gamer’s choice of football simulation. Indeed, Pro Evolution Soccer 15 was soundly trumped, in terms of sales, by FIFA 15 – which is consistent with the series’ rivalry over the last decade.
As one friend once said to me, whilst looking over my shoulder at a La Liga betting page, my love of Pro Evolution soccer is perhaps linked with my general disinterest in the Premier League as I massively prefer the Spanish leagues.
Indeed, one of the main criticisms of Pro Evolution is its lack of Premier League clubs and players. This is due to FIFA having held the rights to these since 1996, with EA’s series regularly using the league’s stars, such as Wayne Rooney, to publicise releases.
Therefore, Pro Evolution, when it comes to representing an English league, has to use pseudonyms and allusions whilst being prohibited from using either likeness or official terminology.
However, as my friend pointed out, the entirety of La Liga, except Barcelona, is included in Pro Evolution 15. A valid point, and I could not say if my love of Pro Evolution would be quite so strong without this inclusion, but I would still contest it is not the sole reason for my preference.
My love of Pro Evolution, and my admiration for it as a video-game series, is mainly due to its gameplay. Without the official licensing to hide behind, Pro Evolution has always had to deliver in terms of mechanics and dynamics.
Meanwhile, FIFA, in my opinion, has used its likenesses and recognisable locations to sometimes hide flawed controls or weak A.I. Pro Evolution has never had such a luxury and, therefore, has always been on point when it comes to the on-pitch action.
What I have always loved about the series is the astoundingly intelligent A.I. and fluidity of the experience. The players, on both your team and the opposing side, react and adapt to what is occurring and will always respond naturally to what you do with the ball.
Moreover, due to the simple controls and focus on gameplay alone, playing Pro Evolution Soccer is a joyously fluid experience, where you feel organically part of the action at every juncture.
It has to be said that this simplified and no-frills approach is perfect for my arcade sentimentalities. I don’t want complex controls and fiddly options; I like my gameplay pure, difficult and reactive.
Pro Evolution is simultaneously more streamlined, yet immensely more challenging, than FIFA. It is a game that rewards skill and will happily punish you for inadequate play.
Unlike FIFA, this for all its additional features and options cannot deliver the same longevity! Whilst Pro Evolution’s presentation may be lacking compared to FIFA, it is this lack of sheen which allows the gameplay to take completely centre stage. That is what I want most-of-all from any video-game.