As the football season begins and transfer deadline day has passed the next major footballing event comes in the form of video games. The FIFA vs PES battle has graced us again and this season Konami has come out of the changing rooms first.
Beneath the surface of this edition of Pro Evo is a new engine, to be precise it is Konami’s in house developed, Fox Engine. As well as powering PES the Fox Engine will also be powering Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain.
With the Fox engine comes a brand new animation system that is brilliant to say the least. Players now shift their weight; pull on the opposition’s shirts and can move on the ball in a multitude of different ways which all supplements the realism factor of this game.
Alongside the animation update is the ability for players to display emotion. From stares of thunder when a team mate misses a sitter or beaming grins when you slot away that free kick from 35 yards. It is this added sense of realism from the players’ face that enables you to have connection with the players in the game. To top it off the players actually look like their real life counter parts the majority of the time.
Disappointingly different weather conditions have been omitted from the game as Konami did not have enough time to develop the different game mechanics before the game was release. I found this slightly annoying as it detracts from the game when you are playing every game in the sun especially when you are supposed to be playing in Britain, like we ever see the sun!
PES 2014 looks a lot better than previous editions, with nice details such as the textures of the kit and the appearance of the grass. The pre match cut scenes really exhibit these polished touches. Stadiums have also been greatly improved as there are animated fans in every seat that you can see. (although the animations are somewhat repetitive).
Commentary in the game is provided by Jon Champion and Jim Beglin. The re-recorded phrases used by the game repeat themselves often in matches and after a while I felt that I just wanted to turn the commentary off. As well as being repetitive sometimes during a match the commentary doesn’t even match up to what is happening, for example a poor cross into the box from my winger was described as ‘neat ball’, I would say it was the complete opposite!
The menu system in the game is archaic. It consists of big buttons which take up most of the screen and a large comical mouse pointer that hovers over the active button. It looks like they didn’t spend any time on the menu systems interface at all.
Carrying on the form of the Pro Evo series, the game is still lacking in licensed in terms of teams and leagues. Take the English Premier League for example the only team not to have a vague name is Manchester United. It is a shame not seeing any of the lower English leagues in the game still. Outside of the United Kingdom the Dutch Eredivisie, French Ligue 1, Italian Serie A and Spain’s LIGA BBVA are fully licensed. Cup that have licensing include the Champions League and Europa League.
Gameplay has been built upon from the last game so the passing system has stayed on form with fluid movement and direct precision. With thought needed by the player too look for space or gaps. When on the ball the players have close control with a nice added feature of being able to knock the ball forward, which definitely helps when trying to take a player on.
PES also offers manual control on passing and shooting, allowing you to control the direction, power and height of each ball player thus enabling you to pick out your player in the crowded box. (Just a quick warning that it does take some time to master.)
Master League returns and is pretty much the same as it was. I don’t know they didn’t spend time upgrading the interface to make it look modern. When you look at the innovations that FIFA is making year on year with their game modes there is really no competition between the two.
In the Champions League mode is like the real thing. Every part of the presentation is the same as you would expect to see on your TV. The UEFA Champions League Anthem can be heard ringing around the stadium at the start of the match and even the same fonts on the visual overlays match their real life counterparts.
PES 2014 has its good and bad points. The Fox engine helps set Pro Evo in the right direction for things to come, let’s hope that with that now out of the way Konami can spend some time overhauling the menu system and game modes in the game to compete with FIFA. The gameplay is challenging and with the AI you can have an enjoyable game.
The game is a definite improvement on last year’s game but I am not sure if this is enough to convert the current FIFA following to PES fans.