Since its creation in the early 2000’s Pro Evolution Soccer has gone above and beyond to provide a gaming experience that catered to the Soccer purist. Focusing on gameplay over flashy presentation was what gave it an edge over its competitor. Towards the end of the 2000’s, PES (Pro Evolution Soccer) was overshadowed by its competitor for numerous years. That all changed thanks to last year’s edition which marked a resurgence in the series. Bringing in a slew of advancements in presentation, gameplay and more PES regained the role as top Soccer game. Konami looks to retain this role with PES 2017, and we believe that they will.
The Pro Evolution Soccer series shines due to incredible gameplay, and this year it shines brighter than ever before. Brining a more realistic approach while still keeping it fun allows PES 2017 to appeal to casual and die-hard fans alike. Though it brings a slower simulation style soccer experience, the action is just as intense as you would expect. Offensive wise, expect to play with the ball holder in mind because players stay true to their real life counter parts. Thanks to updated ball physics passes play a pivotal role in success. Being able to perform a picture perfect through pass that goes where you intended is not only satisfying, but vital to being able to clear the intelligent AI.
When playing defense, the main change focuses on goal keeping. Goal keepers play more aggressive and intelligently. Goalkeepers dive for the ball, and immediately get back up to defend when they land to ensure that a goal doesn’t ensue. There are times when the goalkeeper has some dumb decisions where they’ve run out almost midfield to grab the ball, but it only happened a handful of times over numerous games.
To compliment the improvements to the players on the field, the referees received changes as well. Referees will call out more fouls, without being unfair. Don’t expect to perform a sliding tackle without the possibility of getting a yellow card for nearly breaking someone’s legs. At the same time, it is well worth the yellow card score a goal as Neymar and subsequently rip off your jersey in celebration.
PES 2017 builds upon the stellar presentation seen in last year’s installment, yet still has some hiccups. Players look incredibly detailed, almost indistinguishable from their real life counter-parts. The stadiums look incredible with amazingly natural lighting that makes it hard to tell whether or not you’re watching a real game of soccer or not. Based on what time of the year you are playing you can even see the player’s breath if it’s cold outside, adding to the high level of detail. The game does have issues when it zooms in, often creating numerous pop-ins that take away from the experience.
While the game presents a top notch visual experience the commentary often takes away from the overall presentation. The commentary is just bland and stale, and honestly feels out of place. There were numerous games that I played where the commentary only talked when I passed the ball; literally not a peep otherwise. While the commentary has potential if they allowed more lines, it just falls short.
For those who have played last year’s title, the menus have received a massive make-over that make navigation simple. While navigating the menus you are treated to a soundtrack of popular songs to listen to that just add to the already upbeat feeling.
One of my biggest complaints about the game is the lack of licensed teams. Konami has taken this into consideration during development though. To help adapt for the lack of certain team data sharing is available to allow you to download created teams that mimic the real teams. While this isn’t a perfect fix, it works.
PES fans can rejoice as Master League has returned with some enhancements as well. With the added roles system, now allowing 22 roles as opposed to the previous 10, players can assume roles such as “Hero” or “Bad Boy” to help establish a higher level of team chemistry. The biggest change is the deadline feature now creating a deadline on the transfer window to add to the excitement.
MyClub has returned, with some small changes with the scout, but little changes otherwise. While I find myClub to be a fun game-mode I’ve found it incredibly difficult to find a game while playing the mode, often taking 10 minutes to actually find an opponent.
From the regular online games we’ve played, the wait to find an opponent usually varies. When you do find an opponent the connect sees no issues, and match making allows for opponents that aren’t completely above your level. Thanks to Live Update the rosters stay up to date so the experience stays realistic at all times.
PES is a series that strives to bring the most authentic soccer experience, and PES 2017 reinforces that ideal. Offering a high level of realism while still being easy to pick-up and play is a big plus for the series. While 2017 offers a few hiccups, it is without a doubt one of the best soccer games I’ve played in recent years.
*Complementary copy of the game was provided by the developer for review purposes.