Only the fittest can survive when it comes to PC football action, which is why the genre is now a game of two halves featuring EA's FIFA and Konami's Pro Evolution Soccer.
Over the years the annual Christmas derbies between the two have become increasingly tense, with the former slowly evolving to mimic PES, the perennial champion. So what's the score this season?
Certainly PES retains the upper hand against an ever-improving FIFA with an instalment that's slightly less accessible but even more compelling than the wildly addictive Pro Evo 4.
The traditional dual appeal of PES has always been empowerment and realism, giving you plenty of freedom to pass and shoot precisely where you wish, deploying tactics and utilising the individual strengths of your players.
That delicious philosophy remains for PES 5, though play has been slowed and is, brilliantly, far more physical.
No longer will you sit and wait while the opposition enjoys periods of uninterrupted possession. Instead the game has become more competitive, demanding that you stick the boot in and ensure that every tackle is a battle.
Luckily, the whistle-happiness of the refs has been curbed, too. The action may sometimes be scrappy, but it's wonderfully intense.
The physics have been altered in a far more literal sense as well. More than ever the ball moves realistically, cannoning off defenders and careering from out-stretched feet in a way that enables you to ping passes into the danger zone and put your opposition under real pressure.
The repercussions of this are far-reaching and prove particularly lip-smacking when it comes to tackling.
Improved shooting means that the repetitive tap-ins of previous instalments are on the wane and you're encouraged to play through the middle instead of relying on constant wing play, thereby opening up more room for tactical thought.
The result is a game that not only provides a challenge for veterans, but one that will prove satisfying for hungry newcomers.
And despite average presentation and dire commentary, the ever-compelling Master League progression mode, training, unlockables and online play combine with moreish, realistic action to complete PES 5's winning line-up.