Hot on the heels of Konami's formidable Pro Evolution 3 comes this year's instalment of EA's answer to the beautiful game. Long has this rivalry continued and still the choice remains a very tough one indeed. Granted, PES has always been regarded as the serious man's football sim but, at the same time, it has never been able to match up to FIFA's
superlative attention to detail and overall "officialness". This time around is no different - FIFA 2004 returns with all the atmosphere, presentation and realism for which it's renowned and, more importantly, all of the world's premier clubs and players. Oh, and there are also plenty of new modes and features.
One of the main updates to the game is its new Career Mode, which casts you as player manager and charges you with the task of building your own squad and guiding your club to the Championship. Along the way, as well as the usual team selection and substitutions, you also have to take care of things like budget management and player promotion/relegation in order to sustain team objectives on the pitch. Also, while on the pitch, the game presents you with the ability to make adjustments mid-game and call plays in real-time, via the d-pad.
As you would expect from an EA Sports title, FIFA 2004 is bulging with more than 500 official licenses. More specifically, the game includes 16 leagues, 350 teams and a whopping 10,000 players. As such, you're able to play as or take on the top clubs from across the globe, from Europe's super leagues to the Americas Club Championship. Not wanting to stop there, EA has also included a host of officially licensed stadiums, which resonate to the sound of over 300 new crowd chants, making for extremely authentic playing environments.
The list of revisions goes on, including, in no particular order, a new smoother animation engine, an expanded database and controls, improved AI, enhanced, broadcast-quality presentation, and intelligent commentary - as usual, easily enough reasons to warrant upgrading to this year's update. As far as the FIFA/PES debate goes though, perhaps you'd be better off with both.