PES 2014 – Review (PS3, 360)

written by Gary Weeks on 18.9.13 pes-2014

PES has had a poor run in this generation. Once the go to football game on past gens had become an inferior title to the behemoth rising in EA Sports’ FIFA franchise.

Konami never gave up and slowly but surely, over the last couple of iterations of the title, we have started to see the emergence of a quality football title that is starting to show just how good the Pro Evolution franchise is and PES 2014 takes one step further in getting back to what it done best, providing a damned great game of football.  After all, that’s what you purchase a footie game for, right?

Like racing titles, PES and FIFA are starting to separate into two completely different styles. Whilst FIFA glorifies the “beautiful game” wrapping itself up in licensed players, teams and leagues whilst promoting football with a more loose, arcade feel, PES has taken great strides to become a more simulated version of the game and for those that are willing to persevere the greatest and most precise version of football available on consoles.

With Metal Gear Solid V’s Fox engine providing the driving force behind the latest title, PES 2014, player and ball physics become the centre of attention in how PES excels in gameplay and realism. PES 2013′s sometimes sketchy player collisions have been replaced with fully weighted hot and miss looking versions of their real life counterparts. Being able to run shoulder to shoulder with an opposing player and sometimes nudge them off the ball requires skill but also provides an unrivalled satisfaction that shows how far Konami are prepared to go to create an authentic version of football.  You see PES 2014 doesn’t allow for a team to be successful based solely on their stats but more so on the skill of the gamer controlling the team. It’s very easy for a high ranked team to lose to a poor team solely on playing the game as you would FIFA. You can’t run the wing from box to box to swerve that ball in for a crazy goal, you cannot lose either move your players too far out of position either for example unless you want to sit crying into your controller.

PES 2014 is all about understanding the game of football, understanding a position of a player and understanding the fundamentals of football as well as understanding the control system that has a nice progressive learning curve in terms of accessibility for a gamer new to the franchise. The fundamental controls work beautifully with enough simplicity for anyone to get used to and helped by a tutorial section offering you different scenarios in order to learn your craft.  As you start to get used to everything manual passing, shooting and the more technical controls can start to be applied to your repertoire in order to create a more creative skill set. This is only a small part of understanding how PES plays out and the big rewards are there for the patient. Yes, you’ll get frustrated, yes, you’ll get stuffed in many a game and yes, you’ll perhaps want to throw the controller at the TV in frustration at how your defence got opened up by an AI team but you know what? It would’ve been your fault and once you start to understand the finesse involved in winning a game you’ll never look back and really understand what PES has delivered in terms of autheticity. Knowing how to run off players, learning how to shield the ball and hustle slightly to find the space to get a pass off are small reminders at the depth of the game and its true impact into FIFA’s dominance.

For all the good, there are a few faults, some that are perhaps able to be corrected and some that just can’t be helped. Sometimes the AI in defence can be a little sloppy. There’s nothing worse that a player on your team not challenging for a ball and perhaps the AI gets a little confused at who’s meant to go for what, a small whinge that happens on occasion but not a game breaker just one of those things that when you’ve worked hard to go one goal up you find it frustrating that that work can be undone by something so trivial. The fact that the licensing is very slim on the ground is also something that is a little laughable at times but something that PES is known for now due the FIFA franchise pretty much cleaning up on that from and not wanting to let it go. PES doesn’t seem to have advanced also on the variety of game modes to play with  Master League mode offering only small improvements such as the ability to manage national teams and move clubs mid-season. Become a Legend is also largely unchanged, and the promise of an 11 vs. 11 online mode is one that will only be kept in a future patch. There’s is also an online version of Master League but it wasn’t available to test pre-launch.  Small things but things that need a mention all the same. I feel something creative that could challenge the power and addictiveness of Ultimate Team might have made a lot of sense but has been left to oneside.

For the last paragraph of gripes, we need to realise that the angle Konami were looking for was a pure game of football and PES 2014 hits that nail smack bang on the head. It’s very easy to gush over the other franchises’ features but one thing it doesn’t have a patch on is creating and authentic and pure football experience, something that the PES team are happy to provide and something that needs to be taken seriously.

With PES 2014, Konami are proving that the franchise is back with a bang and anyone that is interested in playing football rather than all the bumfluffery surrounding the game need look no further. It may take a while to get up to speed with the game but once you do, you’ll start to see how the two competitive franchises are starting to separate themselves into different areas. Basically, if you want to play a proper game of football then PES 2014 should be the only serious consideration.

4 stars
New Panasonic 3DTVs available

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