The Pro Evolution Soccer series has very much been in the shadow of FIFA, certainly in the last few years but can Pro Evolution Soccer 2014 force itself into the first team or will it end up consigned to the substitute’s bench?

PES makes use of the cross-generational Fox Engine, which was primarily created for Metal Gear Solid V

PES makes use of the cross-generational Fox Engine, which was primarily created for Metal Gear Solid V

Konami have hailed Pro Evo 2014 as a ‘dawn of a new era’ and in some respects you can see what they are saying, the game makes use of the cross-generational Fox Engine, which was primarily created for Metal Gear Solid V and you can tell the difference. This is one of the best looking PES games I have played in a long time. The stadiums look great, as do the player model and their animations.

One of the first things you will set up are you control preferences, for FIFA players like me I immediately swapped over the controls to B for shooting and X for tackling before moving over to the assists page. Here you can adjust all sort of things like how much control you have over your players, how you want the game to handle passing and shooting etc. It’s all standard stuff but if you’re an advanced player it’s the sort of menu you’ll want to get stuck in to.

On the pitch the game can take some getting used to, especially if you haven’t played in a while. There is a big set of training tutorials that will teach you everything from the basics such a passing to the more complex controls involved with attacking and using manual shooting. If you don’t want to end up really frustrated on the pitch, then make some time to play as many drills as you can.

On the pitch the game can take some getting used to, especially if you haven't played in a while

On the pitch the game can take some getting used to, especially if you haven’t played in a while

PES is a game that rewards those people who take the time to understand how the games plays, just running at players with pace doesn’t work in this game. The new engine allows players to shift their weight on the ball and if you can learn to interpret each player’s movements when passing you’ll be able to turn your defender and get a yard or two on them at the right moment. If you are able to tie this in with some accurate one touch passing you can devastate your opponents with some brilliant moves. It’s great playing with top players like Messi and Ronaldo as they have been faithfully recreated them right down to their body movements and skills moves.

The AI defending can still be wayward at times, with defenders letting simple balls towards them go straight by

The AI defending can still be wayward at times, with defenders letting simple balls towards them go straight by

The AI defending can still be wayward at times, with defenders letting simple balls towards them go straight by allowing the attacking team to score and the goalkeepers are prone to silly mistakes too. Slide tackles aren’t as common in the game; defenders preferring to jostle attackers into mistakes or out of play, again timing a slide tackle well can switch play quickly so it’s still a valuable tactic. Attackers make odd decisions too resulting in them running balls out of play with no pressure on them. Shooting at times feels brilliant, but there are also times when the ball doesn’t react the way you want it to. The manual shooting feature is very good, giving you greater control over where your shot will go, if you’re able to master it then you’ll have plenty of success, unlike me who saw plenty of shots ending up in the crowd.

For those of you that have been playing PES for years you’ll be pleased to see the return of the Master League, very little has changed but you are now able to manage a National Side (your chance to make England successful). Competition mode allows you to play licensed competitions such as the Champions League, Europa Cup, Copa Libertadores and the Asian Champions League. Each of these tournaments looks great, thanks to official branding and neat little touches to really crank up the realism. You can also play through a host of leagues such as Serie A and Liga BBVA are fully licensed, but the poor premier league remains stuck with teams such as North London and North East London (Arsenal and Tottenham). Although it’s very superficial, being able to play as fully licensed teams is something I really enjoy so this is certainly a let-down for me.

It hasn’t done enough to sway me away from playing FIFA 14 this year but I’ll continue to spend time with the game in anticipation of the next release

It hasn’t done enough to sway me away from playing FIFA 14 this year but I’ll continue to spend time with the game in anticipation of the next release

As enjoyable as the game is to play there a few things that I have found frustrating, firstly the commentary. Not only is it quite bland but often it’s completely out of context and at times it feels like the commentators have gone to sleep as large periods of play are silent. The game also seems to suffer from performance issues when attacking, stuttering at important moments reminding you that you are in fact playing a computer game. At the time of writing this review I failed to get a multiplayer game due to not being able to download the latest data pack from the game. I still don’t understand why Konami insist on using menus that look like thy belong on the Mega Drive it brings down the presentation of the game, though thankfully it reflect too badly on the rest of the game.

Despite some issues it’s fair to say that this is the best Pro Evolution game I have played and what excites me most is how impressive the game will be when Konami enter PES into the next-gen market. It hasn’t done enough to sway me away from playing FIFA 14 this year but I’ll continue to spend time with the game in anticipation of the next release.

 

Review: Pro Evolution Soccer 2014
Goal!
  • New engine is excellent
  • The games looks the best yet
  • Licensed competition works really well
Wide!
  • AI defending can be hit and miss
  • Lack of licences is too noticeable
  • Atmosphere and commentary are bland
80%Overall Score
Reader Rating: (0 Votes)
0%

About The Author

When he isn't changing nappies or learning the latest songs on Cbeebies you'll find him taking the world on at FIFA or bouncing around on Kinect games.