Review

Pro Evolution Soccer 2014

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Pro Evolution Soccer 2014 (PES 2014) is the latest instalment in Konami’s flagship sports franchise that can be traced all the way back to the release of International Superstar Soccer almost twenty years ago.

What You Need to Know

PES 2014 is a game that can be enjoyed by beginners and experts alike thanks to a deep control scheme that gives you unparalleled precision on the football pitch. Have you ever wanted to control individual players in the box when you’re taking a corner, or be able to specify exactly which player you want to send on a run while you’re taking the ball up the field? Well, in PES 2014 you can!

PES 2014 Screenshot 2

What’s New?

The main new feature that sets PES 2014 apart from previous games in the series is its use of Kojima Productions’ Fox Engine that was created to not only make Konami’s games look better but also to significantly speed up cross-platform development. I’ve only dabbled in previous PES titles during this console generation but it was immediately obvious to me that PES 2014 is a major step up for the franchise in terms of visual detail, lighting, animation and physics.

In addition to new commentary languages (Arabic, Argentinian, and Chilean) and licenses for the AFC Champions League, the Argentine Primera División, Chilean Primera División, Copa Sudamericana and Recopa Sudamericana, the game also features the all-new Motion Animation Stability System (M.A.S.S.) that increases the realism of tackles and player momentum on and off the ball based on each individual’s physical characteristics.

What’s the Same?

PES 2014 certainly doesn’t reinvent the wheel in terms of the modes on offer. Just like most other football games, you can take part in exhibition matches, tournaments, online matches, assume the role and responsibilities of a custom or real-life player in Become a Legend mode, or experience the ups and downs of being a manager in Master League mode.

The game’s basic control scheme is also very easy to get to grips with if you’ve played other recent football titles, so you should feel right at home with PES 2014 even if you’ve never played the series before.

You’ll Enjoy Pro Evolution Soccer 2014 If You Liked…

… The FIFA series. There are many similarities between PES 2014 and FIFA 14 in terms of their control schemes, and they are both striving for the same level of realism when it comes to elements such as ball physics and player collisions.

… The MLB: The Show series. SCE San Diego Studio’s baseball franchise goes to great lengths to put absolute control in the hands of players and I got the same sense when I was learning the intricacies of PES 2014′s incredibly deep control system.

PES2014Banner

What I Liked

- 5.) The level of customisation in PES 2014 was something that really stood out for me. If gameplay feels a tad slow or you’re unhappy with the way that your team operates as a unit on attack or defence then just tweak a few parameters and you’ll immediately feel the difference.

- 4.) Many football games suffer severe frame rate drops when you bring the camera view down to pitch level. Thankfully this is a non-issue in PES 2014 and Become a Legend mode benefits the most in this regard.

- 3.) PES 2014 features an awesome training mode that was my first port of call when I initially booted up the game. This mode covers everything from basic controls to more advanced moves such as high passes, as well as a detailed explanation of gameplay systems such as Auto-Feint.

- 2.) Realistic lighting is a key element of the Fox Engine and to this end PES 2014 features some of the best lighting I’ve ever seen in a videogame. You’ll look at other football games in a different light (ahem) once you’ve seen PES 2014′s lifelike shadows falling across the various pitches on offer.

- 1.) There’s a lot to learn when it comes to PES 2014′s deep control scheme but once you’ve got to grips with it you’ll feel an incredible sense of satisfaction as performing intricate, multi-player attacking runs becomes second nature.

Favourite Moment

The first time I read a loading screen tip saying that you could send any player in your team on a run by marking them with the right analog stick was a massive revelation to me and the moment when I realised just how powerful PES 2014′s control scheme was.

PES 2014 Screenshot 1

What I Didn’t Like

- 4.) There’s not a lot of variety to the commentary and when players’ names are used in a sentence it comes across as stilted, making it painfully obvious that the name was recorded separately from the rest of the dialogue.

- 3.) There are a total of nineteen stadiums in the game but about 80% of the matches I played were at the fictional Konami Stadium. This venue is repeated ad nauseam during the Master League and Become a Legend modes.

- 2.) As good as the game’s general frame rate is, it dips significantly during various close-ups such as a referee handing out a yellow card or a player celebrating a goal.

- 1.) There are two types of aiming modes for shooting but unfortunately the default setting feels a little unresponsive at times, since I would often place the ball to the left or right of the goalkeeper, only to have the ball travel directly down the centre of the goalmouth.

Least Favourite Moment 

I wasn’t very impressed when I first booted up the game and was told that I had to download an additional Data Pack in order to be able to play online. This took over an hour to download and the game didn’t specify exactly what was contained in the pack apart from a few additional ball designs. 

What’s Extra?

Dedicated PES 2014 players can compete on leaderboards for the game’s ranking-based online multiplayer mode as well as Master League Online which is essentially the online variant of its management mode. Konami has promised that a future patch will unlock twenty-two player online matches but it seems likely that this feature will be hamstrung by lag since the game has latency issues even when two players are engaged over the network.

Pro Evolution Soccer 2014 Launch Trailer 

The Bottom Line

PES 2014 features a deep and rewarding control scheme, as well as some seriously impressive visuals thanks to the power of the Fox Engine.

Pro Evolution Soccer 2014 was reviewed on the PlayStation 3


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