The annual battle for video game football supremacy is now upon us. Konami have entered a strong contender into the ring this year, compared to previous fights. But is it enough to knock out FIFA?
Like previous games, PES is still lacking licenses to the some of the top teams in the world. So because of this we see the reappearance of fan favourites Man Blue and Merseyside Red. Oh, but they have got Manchester United. Despite the lack of English clubs, PES has full licensing for teams in Spain’s La Liga, Italy’s Serie A, France’s Ligue 1 and a few more. Of course after release there will be fan made patches for editing the teams into the real deal.
Being a Bristol City fan, I am disappointed at the lack of English leagues in the game. Even if not licensed I would have liked to have seen a version of the Championship, League 1 and League 2. I, and I am sure many more football fans, will find not being able to play as the team that they support very disappointing.
The latest release of the game has improved many aspects of the gameplay including the controls, the AI, freekicks and the graphics.
Konami have introduced advanced player individuality which makes some of the best players in the game instantly recognisable. This is achieved by the way the players look and the way in which they play. One example of this is Neymar who will now take a sidestep before shooting, like his real life counterpart.
The first touch on PES has also changed. When receiving the ball from a pass you have two options: you can bring it under control, or use the momentum of the ball to carry on running and get past the defender. Goalkeepers have also improved being more reactive to shots, giving players a greater challenge when trying to score, although still not up to FIFA standard, with the occasional very erratic moments.
PES also offers full control on passing and shooting, allowing you to control the direction, power and height of each, enabling you to pick out your strike in the crowded box. (But only once you have mastered the skill of it!)
Master League is back and as expected you create your desired manager and are introduced to the press, in a press conference you don’t have any control over. You are then taken to your office where your secretary will give you advice that you will need to lead your team to victory.
I found waiting for the calendar to progress while waiting for the next match annoying and it is sometimes interrupted by a meeting. You are able to sign new players (even if it is difficult), read information on the next opponent and create tactics to implement on the field.
‘Become a Legend’ mode is PES’s take on FIFA’s ‘Be a Pro’. You get to create a player and then choose a starting club. You get to choose your desired position as well as creating your basic skill set. As you progress through the season and impress the manager then you will become the number one pick for your position.
While progressing you can increase your traits as well as earning money. Money can be spent on: equipment, training, your agent and of course football boots. If you upgrade your agent it increases your chances of signing for a bigger name team. Equipment and training increase your progression on chosen traits.
Copa Libertadores makes a return in the game and it has improved since last year. When playing matches you can see flares and confetti, with impressive drums and chanting from the fans in the stadium. Unlike previous games I think that it has been reengineered into its own unique game mode.
As you would expect there is also the return of online Master League. When online you can earn items that can then be used on your offline Master League and ‘Become a Legend’ players.
It wouldn’t be Pro Evo if they didn’t have a wide range of licensed football boots for you to use for your player. The boots range from Adidas Predators to Nike Total 90’s. Many of the real life players have the boots that they use in real life equipped in the game, which is a nice touch for those who like realism in their games.
The graphics on this latest version of the game are great, with the referees, fans and journalists looking almost life like. The licensed players look as they should. In some places there are some anti-aliasing issues with straight lines being very jagged.
Another slight issue is when you score a goal, the cut scene is very jittery.
The soundtrack on the game isn’t great, and some of the songs get on your nerves. It doesn’t get much better when in a match, after a while the irritating voices of the commentators will make you want to play the game on mute.
Personally I wasn’t a fan in which the menu system was laid out; it could have been made cleaner and more inviting.
Overall I think that this is a great improvement for Pro Evolution but it is still lacking many things that I would like to make it a more rounded and enjoyable game.