Pro Evolution Soccer 2014 Review

The most revolutionary change in the PES series for many years makes for some impressive visuals and an expansion of the game’s Fifa-beating potential

If you’ve decided to pitch in the Pro Evolution Soccer camp this year, you’ve got pretty good timing because there are more reasons than ever to do so. And yet people still continue to flock to Fifa like sheep running from Pro Evolution Soccer like it were some sort of ovine blasphemy whereas it is in fact the greatest and most detailed simulation of the sport to ever exist.

This is the difference between Fifa and Pro Evolution Soccer: the former is a game of gloss and glamou and the latter a simulation of detail and complexity that grows by the year. You need to understand that while both are great games, Pro Evolution Soccer 2014 is by far the better simulation of the intricacies of the sport, and this year it has more features than ever to back up its attempt at the football throne.

You Want a Game or a Simulation?

Pro Evolution Soccer, football, Fifa rivalry, blah blah blah, something something something battle, something something something dark side. Have I lost my mind? No, but that was a tribute to any and all game reviews/reviewers than insist upon them/their selves by reeling off a few lines about the Fifa vs. Pro Evolution Soccer rivalry becoming fiercer by the year, though inevitably concluding that Fifa indeed has the edge no matter what innovation or improvement Konami may inject into their solid entry into an apparently one-horse race. Comparison of the two is inevitable because they both concern themselves with football and they are pretty much the only two choices when it comes to serious football gaming, but while Fifa has all the gloss, glamour, bells, and whistles, Pro Evolution Soccer has the simulation card to play here, and this 2014 edition of the game has more reason than ever to be more smug than a reviewer that has just compared the two about its position in the running this year (which is still neck and neck with Fifa as I’m concerned).

Simulating Greatness

Advances have been made in Pro Evolution Soccer 2014 that are more far-reaching and akin to a revolution in the Pro Evo ranks than has ever been seen before in the series. It is impossible not to begin by talking about the Fox engine (which will fittingly be powering Snake in the forthcoming Metal Gear Solid series for next-gen consoles), a development that many thought would either make or break the series, but which has definitely benefitted it in a big way.

The physics are now much more realistic and the aforementioned engine has allowed the implementation of  various physics-improving features such as “shoulder to shoulder” where the weight, speed, and direction of the player has a direct relation to how well you can legally muscle your opponent out of possession of the ball. More features like “Truball Tech” make the dribbling and ball control in general more akin to the real thing as well, but because we’re dealing with a simulation as opposed to a mere game here, the first touch system where you are punished for being in motion when receiving the ball is still remarkably frustrating no matter how realistic you like your games to be.

Controlling Brilliance

The feature that possibly distinguishes Pro Evo the most is its remarkably complex control system that allows you to simulate pretty much every flick of the ball and other move you thought possible, but only if you are willing to learn what is effectively the art of the different button combinations required to pull off the impressive manoeuvres. Ignoring the sub-standard tutorial system for second and assuming that you are intelligent enough and enough of a football fan to have some patience with the game, you must remember that the detailed control system is the tool that allows the game to possess the complexity that it does. While the controlling intricacies of Pro Evolution Soccer 2013 served to slow the game down, it actually speeds up a little in 2014 (though dribbling is much more difficult to master this time around).

Contextual variations on your performance are also implemented through the “Heart” system, which affects your performance according to a particular scenario’s variables such as whether you are playing in front of a home or away crowd (making the latter much more difficult). Such a feature is rare in a sporting game and should be relished with maximum ferocity here.

A Flawed Gem

I would equate Pro Evolution Soccer 2014 to being a beautiful-looking diamond which presents with some noticeable flaws when you examine it closely. As a simulation of football, it is by far the best damned game around, possessing more detail and contextual variation than Fifa and being the equivalent of a 20-course meal with amuse bouches and inter-course courses in relation to Fifa’s more instantly-pleasing slap-up meal from a greasy spoon. The problem is, people love a slap-up meal and when the 20-course meal suffers from a lack of quality online play and official licenses, you can understand why people would enter the Fifa cafe instead of making reservations in the Pro Evo Bistro.

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