It’s not every day you turn on a game to hear Pavarotti singing Nessun Dorma, but it was a nice touch to see one classic introducing the new edition of another classic in the return of Pro Evolution Soccer (PES). That’s right Konami are back with the hit football game and although they are up near the top of the football game food chain, hopefully they can get back on track to competing with FIFA which has in all honesty blown them out of the water in recent years with the addition of a host of new features added to the game. Not helped either by Lionel Messi switching allegiances and becoming an ambassador for FIFA leaving what must be a massive hole in Pro Evo’s marketing campaign and something that is sure to have affected the games appeal. That’s why this year see’s Konami making quite a few changes, some to help improve the game, others arguably may take something away from the charm Pro Evo has, but will it all be enough to challenge for the number one spot?
Well one thing hasn’t changed with PES14 and it is arguably the main thing that puts a few people off purchasing the game, which are the licensing issues. Although over recent years the problem has improved what with players names now being correct so you finally get to see Steven Gerrard rather than something like S.Jarrad, there are still a few issues to be resolved. For example the premier league is still called the English League, not all teams have the correct names and the kits, badges and stadiums aren’t authentic, although there are some nice new classic kits for select European and South American clubs. In addition to that, due to FIFA signing new contracts, licensing issues now mean the Stadium Editor and Spanish Stadiums that have been on previous games are now scrapped. On the plus side Pro Evo does have the official licenses for the UEFA Champions League, Europa League and Super Cup as well as the new addition of many other leagues and the AFC Champions League which will be a pleasant surprise for the Asian market.
For the individual game modes available there aren’t that many changes. The most notable being that in the Master League you can now manage national sides and also change teams mid-season, which doesn’t sound like much but is still a nice little feature that mixes up the game a little. There is also a Master League online mode but as the game hasn’t been released yet I’ve been unable to check this out, but if it’s anything like the normal mode it should bring hours more fun. The training modes differ as well in that the new physics engine means every touch and movement can be detrimental to achieving your targets. I was only on the 2nd lesson of learning to dribble and dash dribble before I realised how realistic the touches can be. Weaving in and out of cones, at one slight touch you can lose control of your ball as it, or you, hit training cones. As for everything else things pretty much stay the same as previous versions.
Moving on to the graphics of the game, again Pro Evo hasn’t always been the best with FIFA often seeming to go into more detail with players and stadiums, however there has been a bit of an improvement this year. The quality of detail seems to be a lot higher, stadiums although aren’t official do look impressive in their designs and the crowds look more realistic too. There are also improvements to some players who do actually have some resemblance to their real life selves. Luis Suarez for example although not lifelike does pretty much look like the real deal, and after scoring a hat-trick against Everton he even did his famous dive celebration that he performed in front of Moyes while he was still at Everton. Whether that was just a random celebration I don’t know but it certainly brought a smile to my face. Saying that there are still some players who look nothing like the actual players and it looks like the developers have just brought random people off the street and stuck them in a football kit.
One thing about PES14 that I do believe beats FIFA in every way is that it doesn’t have Andy Townsend commentating on the games. I just can’t stand the man, always spurting out rubbish and stating the bleeding obvious he is one of the worst football pundits ever, the main reason I mute the sound when a match is on ITV substituting it with radio commentary. Having said that there were a couple of issues with commentary, one just being that it seemed to be the same old usual stuff being said on past editions of the game, the other was that some players names were said incorrectly. For example I was playing against Everton and every time Nikica Jelavic was on the ball it called him Sebastian Venat, now I’m no English Teacher but pretty sure they are nothing alike.
Now a lot of people won’t be fazed about everything I’ve discussed so far and will want me to get to where it all matters, on the pitch. Well the game has been built from scratch with the introduction to a new modified version of the Fox Engine believed to have been prepared for next gen consoles offering advanced physics to the game. This allows for more realistic movement of the players on the pitch, taking into account their mass and physique and combining it with the movement and speed of the players to make it more convincing than ever and I have to say it is an improvement to the game. Player’s movements do seem to be a lot more real, shots and passes appear to be a more genuine representation of how the ball moves in real life and battling for balls against opposition players see’s you rubbing shoulders in a battle to out muscle each other for the ball. The only downsides are that much like in real life, referees seem to be card happy at times, cautioning you with a yellow card for almost any imperfectly timed sliding tackles, and when taking corners you have dots in front of you to line up where you want to aim your corner but it’s just annoying really and could do with maybe taking a leaf out of FIFA’s style of corner and freekick taking.
The introduction of the new engine though, and the fact the game has had to be rebuilt from scratch means that features such as Rain have been left out and that the game probably won’t be re-released on the PS4. Now people will probably overlook the first fact and think, so what, it’s not like rain makes a difference. Well that’s where they’re wrong, the reasons that the guys in charge didn’t want to add it was because they couldn’t perfect it in time for release. I’ve probably got people confused and thinking that I’m crazy but when it rains in real life players slip, balls move differently and the pitch condition changes, and what Konami wants is a realistic football game, and it’s taking time but they’re certainly heading in the right direction with promises the feature will be back for next year.
As for the release of PES14 on the PS4 it’s likely there won’t be a release until the game returns for Pro Evolution Soccer 15. This is so they have time to perfect the game even further in terms of graphics, the physics and other areas including the most important part, licensing. With the PES Community Manager, Adam Bhatti, admitting how important it is to acquire licensing in an interview about cut backs to the games features; “we’re determined to fight back in this regard next year. If things are removed from edit mode because of licensing each year, it would rip out the soul of PES, and we must not let that happen.”
So to conclude, PES14 takes a step in the right direction to competing with FIFA. It’s gameplay has improved with a new engine introduced making the game more realistic than previous editions of the game, and having played the FIFA 14 demo I can say that the gameplay is more enjoyable too, in my opinion. The graphics could still use a lot of improving when it comes to players and such, and hopefully with what Adam Bhatti has stated, maybe next Pro Evo will see more licenses acquired so we can see more official kits, stadiums and badges. This hopefully will raise the game to a new standard that see’s it reclaim the number one spot that it once held. If I had to pick one flaw that bugged me though, it’d have to be the card happy refs, but I’m sure that again is something that may be addressed in the future. But in my view it’s definitely worth getting if you’re a fan of football games. Oh and not to forget there is also the added bonus of no Andy Townsend commentating; it’s probably only me who finds this so satisfying though.
Disclaimer:All scores given within our reviews are based on the artist’s personal opinion; this should in no way impede your decision to purchase the game.