Sunday, 11 October 2015

Pro Evolution Soccer 2016

I remember a time when Pro Evolution Soccer was king. I would spend every spare moment playing against my big brother which felt and sounded like a derby against two of the biggest rivals inside a 7 x 8 foot bedroom. He’d win sometimes and other times I’d take the crown, but one thing stayed the same: Pro Evolution Soccer was in the disc tray. That was some time ago however as we’re both married now, but Pro Evolution Soccer is back to its very best once again and that old rivalry may finally spark anew. 

 Pro Evolution Soccer 2016, developed by PES Productions is out now on Xbox One, Xbox 360, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3, and PC. The transition from the PlayStation 2/Xbox to PlayStation 3/Xbox 360 wasn’t a good one for the sporting franchise. The first one, Pro Evolution Soccer 6 only featured on Xbox 360, but was a great entry but every year afterwards, it subsequently got worse or, at the very least, didn’t improve at the rate its biggest competition was. It stagnated, stayed the same, and fell behind. I almost started to question why Konami wouldn’t just hang up the boots and move on. 

I’m glad they didn’t though as Pro Evolution Soccer 2016 is the best football game ever on the pitch. Elsewhere it does need improving but in its pure gameplay, it’s a masterclass and prime example of the “beautiful game”. Movement, passing, and the flow of play is just an absolute treat for every 90 minutes you play. The game boasts three times the animations over last year’s iteration and it makes a massive difference. The higher skilled players move with so much class than you consistently spurt out “aww and oh” in a pleasurable manner. It just looks sexy.

Actually playing the game is just as satisfying. The off the ball players make moves into space and even come back to offer support. The game allows for you to control such tactic options like the style of game you want to play but the A.I. is smart enough to offer support when they can. I’ve already mentioned it but that “flow” of gameplay makes all the difference. Every well-work play and goal feels rewarding like you deserved it. Off the field though, Pro Evolution Soccer 2016 still lacks in some departments. While the menus are improved over previous games, it still looks and feels clunky. The user experience is nowhere near as seamless as it really should be. It’s slow and unintuitive.

The game also features an unintentional mini-game for you to play called “Who the hell is that supposed to be?”. While the FIFA 16 borders on uncanny valley, Pro Evolution Soccer 2016 can be laughably bad at player likeliness. While the EA game has the licence and possibly the resources to scan all players’ faces, Pro Evolution Soccer’s team probably don’t have that luxury. Most of the best-known players look great, highlighting the improvements in the Fox Engine (The same one that powers Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain). A lot of the rest though can be wrong, very wrong. How wrong you may ask? Well some aren’t even the same race. It’s a fun game to play with your friends but not something the developers want you to be playing.

It’s hard to emphasis enough how amazing Pro Evolution Soccer 2016 feels to play. There are plenty of modes to keep you occupied including Master League and MyClub which is their take on the insanely popular Ultimate Team but it doesn’t matter what mode you play, the gameplay itself is phenomenal. While FIFA wins in presentation and having the licence, Pro Evolution Soccer 2016 once again reigns supreme on the pitch, and to some, that’s all that matters.

Pro Evolution Soccer 2016 is a true definition of “The Beautiful Game” with 4/5.


Jason Redmond

Pro Evolution Soccer 2016 at CeX

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