Undoubtedly the best football game of the year, PES 2015 has more than enough substance to support Konami’s ‘the pitch is ours’ boast. It demonstrates a deeper understanding of the nuances of the beautiful game than FIFA; though it lacks the razzmatazz that makes EA Sports’ game an accurate recreation of a Sky Sports broadcast, it more than compensates elsewhere. You feel more in control of your fate here, with fewer sweet spots and scripted moments. You’ll rarely score two identical goals, and you’ll regularly need to adjust your tactical approach, because each team feels distinctively different. Some will relish the space a La Liga encounter affords you; others will delight in finally cracking a Serie A side’s catenaccio defence. The biggest players are instantly recognisable, not just by their animation but the intelligence of their movement.
It would be wrong to dismiss the lack of licences and presentational finesse, of course. There’s no doubt that many players find FIFA plays a good enough game of football, and the wider array of modes and options, and the atmosphere it generates around a big match, make it a more attractive proposition than PES. But if you can ignore having to play as Man Blue or Merseyside Red, the awful commentary, the matte-look graphics and the clunky menus, Konami’s game is the clear winner where it really matters.