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Next-Gen FIFA 14 is Pure Brilliance

Cover Art Courtesy of EA Sports

The folks over at EA Sports sure know what they are doing when it comes to soccer.  FIFA 14 for PlayStation 4 is, as the title suggests, a great game.  Why?

Well FIFA 14 on current gen systems was already great, a full step ahead of Konami’s Pro Evo series.  It was so good that Konami seems to be sitting out soccer on PS4 and Xbox One in 2014.

Now EA Sports takes an amazingly successful franchise to an entirely new level.  We’re talking a rave review here, a reason to buy one of those new fangled systems so that you don’t miss out on one of the best soccer games we have ever seen or played.

The PS4 version we reviewed was just amazing.  The graphics were better.  The players were smarter, acting more like their real-life counterparts. The Ignite gameplay engine was faster, providing for smoother movements and better animations. The gameplay environment (i.e. the stadiums, crowds, and sideline interactions) was much more authentic.  Simply put, it was a soccer fan’s (and a gamer’s) dream come true.

I guess the biggest concern has to be the availability of the actual systems.  It’s the holiday season and finding one of the new systems is going to be tricky to say the least.  Is it worth the hassle? The answer is yes if FIFA 14 is any indication of the systems’ long-term potential.

Images Courtesy of EA Sports

There is no competition on the next-gen systems, but I have a feeling EA Sports and FIFA 14 would have won the battle anyways.  I admire their commitment to putting out great products regardless of the system.  The PS3 and Xbox360 versions were brilliant and so are their next-gen counterparts.  This is not a port, but rather a fresh take on a wonderful game.

Kudos to the FIFA team at EA Sports! A job well done once again.

Screenshots and Cover Art

2013 IMG World Congress of Sports Recap – April 3-4

Thank you to J.P. Terrasi for contributing to this report.

The 2013 IMG World Congress of Sports presented by SportsBusiness Daily/Global/Journal saw the leaders in the world of sports come together in Naples, Florida to share their expertise and experiences with attendees.  Some of the biggest names and brands in sports were at the event. Obviously soccer is always on our mind and apparently that was also the case for the organizers as the beautiful game was widely represented.

“Examining the New Wave of Sports and Entertainment Marketing” saw leaders from across the spectrum, including JP Morgan Chase and Coca-Cola.

But talking about FIFA 13 and the FIFA brand was right up our alley.  EA Sports Executive Vice President Andrew Wilson talked about “thinking bigger than just video games.” This included tying the game into social networks and engaging fans in the ad campaign. It just makes sense to pair the world’s largest football fans with the world’s largest clubs.

“The Globalization of the Beautiful Game: Building Brands Beyond Borders” brought ESPN, Liverpool FC, and AS Roma to the forefront along with MLS and the New York Cosmos.  It was a diverse and impressive panel that showcased the diversity and the truly global reach of the game we all cherish.

Cosmos Chairman Seamus O’Brien talked about rebuilding and growing a famous brand.

“This is a business for us. We intend to build the Cosmos as a viable business.”

Growing a brand globally is also on the mind of Liverpool FC, a team that has benefited from overseas tours, the Being: Liverpool series on FOX, and massive popularity in emerging markets like Asia.

“Our owners want to grow and build a sustainable business,” LFC Managing Director Ian Ayre added. ”Our overall revenues have gone up.”

MLS Commissioner Don Garber and ESPN analyst Julie Foudy talked even more about the game here in the States.

“We must protect the integrity of the game or we’ll all be out of business,” Garber exclaimed.

He also listed priorities for MLS as a New York team as the 20th franchise, getting better TV deals, and growing the fan base in local markets.

Foudy had a lot to say about the women’s game, particularly the previous two attempts at a professional league.

“There were good intentions, but the original management just didn’t know how to run a business.”

But she remains hopeful for the women’s game in America.  Hopefully the NWSL will have much better luck with the helf of the USSF.

It is easy to see that this event was first-class in every sense.

Pro Evolution Soccer 2013 vs. FIFA Soccer 13

This is an incredible year for soccer video games as Konami’s PES 2013 finally makes a run at the always impressive FIFA series from EA Sports.  If you have the money, we would wholeheartedly recommend just buying both because you can’t have the full experience of the beautiful game with just one.  Each title has its own strengths and unique qualities.  We found it hard to find a major weakness in either as both companies have put out a strong, competitive product this year.

We had come to a simple conclusion: FIFA 13 plays better, but PES 2013 looks better.  Let’s dive into the details:

FIFA 13: Everyone loves EA Sports and the FIFA series. They put out strong games in every genre and this year’s edition of FIFA Soccer may be the best-ever. They have a mobile tour, a global ad campaign, cool TV commercials, you name it.  The game also landed the E3 Game Critics Award for “Best Sports Game”. Yeah, that’s right… people that play and review games for a living love this title!

FIFA 13′s gameplay is incredibly natural.  The games, whether you play online or on your own, are absolutely flawless. The commentary is smooth, the crowd and the atmosphere are realistic, and the continued integration of ESPN makes it look and play like the real thing.  The games also feel faster on FIFA when compared to Pro Evo.  You feel like you are truly part of the game as the onscreen players react quickly to your every command.

FIFA holds a serious advantage in the licensing department and it shows.  The numbers speak for themselves: 30 leagues, 500 clubs, and a whopping 15,000 players.  This is where Pro Evo cannot compete as it does make a difference when you have to play as Wearside FC instead of Sunderland or as a guy named Halloso instead of Tim Howard on the U.S. national team.

Many critics will rave about the online features, but we are absolutely giddy when it comes to Match Day and the Ultimate Team. Both of these connect you to the real world of global football.  It helps keep the game fresh and always relevant.

Again the gameplay is what sets FIFA apart from the competition. You won’t find a better, deeper gaming experience with the beautiful game anywhere!

FIFA 13 Score: 9.5/10

More FIFA Screenshots

PES 2013: Konami has always had a very loyal following thanks to their incredibly popular Winning Eleven series.  The great games of the past have made for some very serious fans across the globe.

First, I love the fact that the game is backed by Cristiano Ronaldo and Neymar. These are arguably the world’s best two players.  Ronaldo is a star in Europe with Real Madrid, while Neymar is a Brazilian sensation that could dominate the game for 12-15 years.

I preferred the Pro Evo visuals when compared to FIFA.  I just felt they were clearer and more authentic.  The 3D compatibility adds even more value.  The game intros were incredible, especially those before Champions League matches.  The crowds, audio, and atmosphere were top flight as well.

I have always loved the Master League and Become a Legend options and this year’s offerings were great as expected.

The UEFA Champions League, UEFA Europa League, and Copa Santander Libertadores licenses alone make this worth a purchase because you can’t play in these incredible tournaments on FIFA.  This is a big deal, especially when many consider the UCL to be on par with the World Cup in terms of popularity and the fact it comes around every year, not once every four.

PES 2013 Score: 9.0/10

More PES Screenshots

FINAL THOUGHTS: FIFA Soccer 13 and Pro Evolution Soccer 2013 are both better than previous editions.  Both EA Sports and Konami worked hard to make improvements in order to keep pace with each other.  Again the safe bet is just to buy both as they are well worth the money in either case.

FIFA walks away with a slight advantage in our head-to-head review thanks to flawless gameplay and authenticity.  Pro Evo is just a step behind due to licensing issues, but stunning visuals and their UCL/Europa League/Copa Libertadores affiliation keep them near the top.  We can’t wait to see what they come up with next year.

EA Sports Named a Whitecaps FC Founding Partner and Official Video Game Partner

Electronic Arts Inc. (NASDAQ: ERTS) and Vancouver Whitecaps FC today announced that EA SPORTS has become a Whitecaps FC Founding Partner and the club’s Official Videogame Partner. The deal marks EA’s first partnership with a North American soccer club and places Whitecaps FC alongside world-class European clubs like Chelsea FC, Arsenal FC, and Real Madrid CF, all current partners with EA SPORTS.

Through this relationship, EA SPORTS will showcase its FIFA Soccer videogame franchise through Whitecaps FC, including signage, broadcast, and game applications. Similar to its work with European clubs, EA SPORTS will expand its current relationship with the Whitecaps to explore new ways to enhance its videogame experience and create greater authenticity inside of its EA SPORTS FIFA Soccer products. In addition, EA SPORTS and Whitecaps FC are committed to working together in the months ahead to create and launch a program for youth development designed to support the growth of soccer locally and nationally.

The EA SPORTS FIFA Soccer franchise has sold more than 100 million units lifetime* and FIFA Soccer 11 is the best-selling sports videogame in the world. Whitecaps FC and BC Place Stadium will be included in FIFA Soccer 12, enabling fans to play with the Whitecaps MLS team in their new home before the stadium is actually complete. In addition, a limited number of FIFA Soccer 12 games will be available in British Columbia in specially designed Whitecaps FC branding.

“We’re thrilled to join Whitecaps FC as a Founding Partner, as they enter into their inaugural season in MLS,” said EA SPORTS Vice President and General Manager of Soccer, Matt Bilbey. “EA SPORTS has a long history of supporting soccer clubs internationally, and with the success of MLS, it’s the perfect time to bring this support to North America at the club level. British Columbia has been home to the FIFA Soccer franchise for 18 years, and now more than 1,200 EA employees at our Burnaby studio, so we pledge our support to work with Whitecaps FC to develop soccer here in the province and inspire the youth that play this game.”

As Official Videogame Partner of Whitecaps FC, EA SPORTS will have exclusive access to Whitecaps FC players to motion capture and turn into the life-like movement of the virtual players in future versions of EA’s FIFA Soccer games. The FIFA development team will also explore new ways to leverage MLS matches at BC Place to deliver improved authenticity in its games that match the complexity, finesse, and excitement of a real-world soccer match. EA SPORTS will also access players, staff, and its passionate fans to test early versions of its soccer products.

“Through innovative and interactive technology, EA SPORTS will bring football fans closer to the game than ever before,” said Paul Barber, chief executive officer, Whitecaps FC. “We are very pleased to welcome a global company with local roots on board—especially one of EA’s calibre—and we look forward to working together to build excitement for the launch of Major League Soccer in Vancouver.”

EA SPORTS is one of the leading sports entertainment brands in the world, with top-selling videogame franchises, award-winning interactive technology, global videogame competitions and breakthrough digital experiences. EA SPORTS delivers personal access to the emotion of sports through industry-leading sports simulation videogames, including Madden NFL football, FIFA Soccer, NHL® hockey, NBA ELITE basketball, NCAA® Football, Fight Night boxing, EA SPORTS MMA, Tiger Woods PGA TOUR® golf, and EA SPORTS Active.

Pro Evolution Soccer Continues Tradition of Excellence

PES 2011 gives FIFA Soccer 11 a run for its money.

PES 2011 gives FIFA Soccer 11 a run for its money.

Everybody knows Konami’s Winning Eleven series was pure brilliance. Well we now have a modern counterpart with PES 2011, one of the most realistic and fluid games to date. It is a legitimate competitor to EA Sports and FIFA Soccer 11, which has gotten a bit of a head start with an earlier launch date.

Choosing PES 2011 or FIFA 11 comes down to some simple choices. Do you want to play in the UEFA Champions League or Europa League? Do you have any interest in South America’s Copa Santander Libertadores? Many would answer yes to both and PES 2011 is the only game to exclusively feature all three.

Menus are easy to navigate and the music is original and quite refreshing. Opening sequences are breathtaking as the stadium environments and player appearances are simply amazing. It feels like you are watching a real game in HD, but guess what you get to control the players. PES gets major style points in the visuals department.

Gameplay has always been a strong point for Pro Evo and this year further tweaks have made play even more crisp and clean. Control over players feels very natural and responsive. There is no lag in movement and the pacing and speed of play feels about right. “Total Control” gives you an added touch on the ball, which lends itself to a more realistic gaming experience. It takes a few minutes to get used to, but it is an excellent way of replicating real-life action on the pitch.

PES has beefed up its online presence, especially in the area of the always popular Master League mode. Online play has become a necessity and a priority for most gamers and Konami has risen to the challenge in this area as well.

Master League is consistently one of the better features and this year’s edition is no exception. It is my favorite mode of play, one that blows FIFA 11 out of the water in terms of options and depth. It is almost like rolling Sega’s Football Manager into a console game. The result is a wickedly good time spent off the field. Now you can take that mentality online to compete against other fanatics.

The only knock against Pro Evo is its lack of licensed teams and players. Konami has made great strides in this regard, but it still lags seriously behind. Don’t expect to play in MLS or the A-League with PES 2011; it is not going to happen.

In closing, the positives surrounding Pro Evolution Soccer 2011 far outweigh any negatives critics may find. Simply put, watch out EA Sports and FIFA Soccer 11: PES 2011 for PS3 and XBOX 360 is available in stores now!

Stop by the Bothwell Cup in Canton, Ohio this weekend for your chance to win one of two copies of PES 2010 for the XBOX 360.  Win a great game and see thousands of youth soccer players and fans at the Diamond Sports Complex, home of the Concave Sports National Soccer Combine.