Football fans are spoiled when it comes to video games.
They've got not one but two great choices. FIFA is the established king, while Pro Evolution Soccer is trying to regain the throne it lost some years ago.
You can't go wrong with either one, but PES is arguably the much more realistic simulation. If you want to get as close to match action as possible, you'll go with Konami's crown jewel. It's been a great game for years, but with a couple of major additions and tweaks for the most recent edition, Pro Evolution Soccer very well may have become the preeminent football game again.
It's no easy feat, as football is one of the hardest sports to properly recreate in a simulation experience. There are so many moving parts and few times where play completely stops.
Gone are the days of unrealistic player movements and interactions. This has been steadily improving over the years, but Pro Evolution looks to have done the best job of giving gamers the most authentic gameplay experience with its Motion Animation Stability System.
M.A.S.S. gives gamers a "so real it's scary" feel.
The smaller, trickier players can execute much more crisp turns and weave their way through the defense. They will, however, get pushed off the ball by bigger, more physical defenders. Strong strikers will be able to bully their way through to goal.
With Pro Evolution 2014, you've got a game that looks and plays like the real thing.
Nothing's worse than bearing down on goal, expecting your teammate to help you out, only to find that you're all alone. That killer through ball gets harmlessly scooped up by the goalkeeper, or a defender clears it out of danger.
What can also be frustrating is when you try to win the ball on defense thinking you've got some help. Only you find that when you don't win the ball, your defenders part like the Red Sea and give the attacker a clear path at goal.
That won't be the problem with PES' Team Play, which goes a long way toward improving the AI intelligence. Now your teammates will work as more of a unit rather than 11 independent players solely dependent how the user controls them.
Your teammates will move to provide cover, which will help to start the counter and make your attacking moves more effective.
You can really go in depth with tactics and create combinations in order to exploit the opposition. Goalkeepers are also smarter, so you won't have to worry about any howlers at the back.
One of the things that has been lacking in football video games is atmosphere. When you're playing in a big league or continental fixture, it just feels like every other match. The crowd doesn't act any differently, and the players are just emotionless cyborgs, unaffected by anything that happens on the pitch.
With PES, you start to see some of those changes.
Teams can be boosted by home crowds and rattled by playing on the road. You get a much more authentic feel when it comes to the crowd. You'll enjoy playing in front of your own fans as much as you'll dread having to enter some of the toughest cauldrons in the world.
In addition, the players are affected by what actually happens during the match. If a player is having a bad performance, his teammates will try to compensate and pick him up. They'll also feed off a rabid home crowd and try to push on to a great match.