The Winning Eleven
It’s been a fair while since I’ve touched the Pro Evolution Soccer (PES) series. It was quite sad to see the kings of the genre become the runner up as the FIFA storm took over the scene with it’s glitz, glamour and licensed teams. It’s nothing surprising either as PES always felt on the defensive side every year taking on an aggressive opponent. Well tables have shifted with PES 2014 as PES productions took the game back to drawing board, adjusted the line-up and also thrown in the engine that’s powering the upcoming Metal Gear Solid 5. It’s going on the offensive – does it have what it takes to bring it home?
When I first started PES 2014, the game opens up with Nessun Dorma. The ideal anthem for a game dedicated for the love of football. It was a teary moment, so much passion and I haven’t even pressed start yet. PES14 takes the biggest leap with the replacement of the old engine with a new one called the FOX Engine. The FOX Engine which powers Konami’s Metal Gear Solid 5 is a drastic well needed step for the franchise which gives it a brand new coat of paint with improved animations and character details. It does have a few rough edges but overall plays perfectly.
It was a teary moment, so much passion and I haven’t even pressed start yet.
While it’s hard for me to compare this title to the previous as I’ve yet to play it. Let’s just say I’m on the FIFA side of the playing field. The one thing I found straight up with PES 2014 is that it plays at a slower pace than other football games. This creates a more tense, slower methodical approach to football. It makes you fight hard to gain the position and also easily allows you to loose it. No booting the ball to each side of the field in an attempt to run it deep. PES 2014 utilises every inch of grass on the field with it’s superb player control and ball contest. Slower play means fierce competition with the one on one battles often being the highlight of the game as each other vie to take the ball from each other’s possession.
Sprinting pass your opponent is possible but is a sure fire way of loosing possession. While it took a while to master, players must use a combination of fakies and ball control to get pass their opponent successfully. On-the-fly play also easily allows you to setup play while in possession. You can direct the direction of your play to your AI without even controlling allowing quick tactics and strategy to come into effect. A great feature I must say which definitely beats controlling each player individually to setup the attack/defence.
The new MASS (Motion Animation Stability System) allows some definite control and realism to the play. Collisions feel real and every player feels different. It creates this unique aura to the game as every play feels more challenging than the flatline of other sports games.
The only areas that PES 2014 suffer and need a lot more work is it’s online system and licensing of teams. The online was completely broken when I tried to play a few matches – there was constant drops and disconnections plus some unexplained down time. I wasn’t the only one as the forums was filled with the same issues. The lack of team licenses also bring the game’s authentic focus down. There was no Chelsea FC kit which was kinda disappointing but I still coped.
Overall, Pro Evolution Soccer 2014 came out fighting this year. It set out a solid ground attack and delivered a successful offensive that not only shows what it can provide now but also in the years to come. Will it overtake the current reigning champions? Not in a single season but it may eventually get there if they keep bringing their A game and more licensed teams.
Developer: PES Productions
Platform: PC, Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3
*Review copy provided by publisher