Never judge a book by its cover. It's a saying we use for a lot of things. Sometimes we mean you shouldn't judge that person in the back of class wearing a lot of black clothes — they could be the next Shigeru Miyamoto. Sometimes we're actually talking about books.
You can apply the saying to video game covers as well, and let's be honest, some people only buy games because of what the cover looks like. And from what I've heard, quite a few gamers and soccer video game fans make a big deal out of who graces the covers of FIFA and Pro Evolution Soccer, the two major soccer franchises that vie for our gaming dollars each fall (I'm buying PES, by the way).
Soccer stars grace each cover, but who wins out this year? I've played both demos, and have played each series for countless years, but let's throw something that may or may not really matter into the mix — the covers. If I'm a parent or friend looking to buy a soccer game for my friend who always seems to be sporting a Lionel Messi jersey, which one grabs my attention? Aside from that, what do soccer and video game fans see?
Pro Evolution Soccer 2012
What I see:
From left: Neymar and Ronaldo.
Damn am I lost in Christiano Ronaldo's awesome manliness. He's ungodly talented on the ball, has the face of a model and the build of a prize fighter. I used to hate him as a player because he was obsessed with one of soccer's biggest criticisms — the dreaded dive. But he's a class above most players — even if he has an ego the size of the moon — and a perfect choice to have on a cover as he is both popular and attractive. Find me someone who doesn't buy things based on pretty people on the cover and I'll find you a liar.
The other athlete on the cover, Neymar, is a huge up-and-comer that may soon join Ronaldo at Real Madrid in Spain. At first I wasn't so sure he was the one developer Konami should put on the North American cover. I think a Mexican star — Chicharito (Javier Hernandez) being the most popular as of late amongst my Mexican brethren — would have been a better selection.
But as a Hispanic American, I know who Neymar is. All my Hispanic American, soccer-loving friends know him, and a lot of them will try to emulate his hair if they haven't already. After I'm done with my David Villa hair cut, I too may sport the Neymar look. He's flashy and catches your eye; I don't care if he looks like a porcupine or hedgehog, you will notice that cover.
However, this is America, and there aren't any players from the good ol' red, white and blue. This is a bad decision. Sure, a lot of casual watchers of the sport will know the overseas stars more than they know their country's starting 11, but don't underestimate the excitement of the general public when the national team participates in the World Cup. A Landon Donovan would do wonders alongside both of these stars — even if he isn't half as good as either of them.
What others see:
Ronaldo's awesome, beautiful manliness. My brother's girlfriend has never kicked a soccer ball unless forced to, and maybe watched a total of 30 minutes of professional soccer in her life — but she knows who Ronaldo is. Hell, my mom knows who Ronaldo is. Sure, it may be more for that sexiness factor, but both know who he is and what he does, and would buy PES 2012 just by seeing him.
What I see:
The United State's best ever soccer player, one of the world's best strikers, and a mediocre Mexican.
Seriously. Who thought Rafael Márquez was a good choice? He plays for the New York Red Bulls in Major League Soccer, is a defender and is flaming out of soccer at the ripe age of 32. Don't get me wrong, he was a great player during his time at Barcelona, but FIFA 11 did it right by having the young and talented Carlos Vela on the cover.
Chicharito would have been the perfect choice, but his Manchester United teammate, Wayne Rooney, is already on the cover screaming like a mad man. But Rooney is a good choice — in spite of the fact that he cheated on his pregnant wife. He's talented and banging in the goals right now for a seemingly unbeatable (in the English Premiere League, at least) Manchester United team.
Landon Donovan returns from last year to round out the trio. He's a good choice because it's the cover for the North American version, and he's the United State's best player. I call him Landy Cakes no more, and after the last World Cup and his stint in England playing for Everton, the man is highly rated and commands a lot of respect in the soccer world.
What others see:
Let's go back to my brother's girlfriend. She would know who Landon is; the thing she would recognize most is his receding hairline. And Rooney's. Oh, and then the old looking dude in green on the right. This cover doesn't have the same flash, and again, sexiness, of the PES cover. I mean, look at Ronaldo and Neymar's hair! The FIFA cover just has athletes standing there. Its rival at least displays two players vying for possession of a ball.
I'd be mad too if I had hair like that.
If we have to choose a winner, Pro Evolution Soccer 2012 is the clear victor. It kind of makes sense too, seeing as last year's game was a sort of a reclaiming of past glory for the series. Plus, it was harder for them to top last year's cover star. I mean, Lionel Messi may not be the most glamorous soccer star, but he's the world's best player. Good job, Konami.
How about you, Bitmobbers? Has a video game cover ever influenced one of your purchases? Has it affected a parent's or friend's purchase of a video game? Do you live, die or swear by FIFA or PES? Let me know in the comments below, and drop me your Gamertag if you want to jump online with either game.