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PES 2014 Review (PS3)

Konami has taken something of a giant leap this year in the Pro Evoltuion Soccer (PES) series in PES 2014 whereby the development team seems to be more focused on bringing out the realism in a game that has always been somewhat arcade-like.

One of the bigger changes in this year’s iteration is that PES 2014 has a large focus on ball physics and other physics that come into play when moving around with the ball. The focus seems to be realism this time around and while it seems hard to focus on something like that with the FIFA giant looming over the game, they have done a reasonably good job. The Motion Animation Stability System has been put into place that will allow realism of physical contact between players. This means that tackles, contact and decisions on the pitch will have more of an impact but also lead to more open games. The crowd will also have a team influence now where home teams may seem a little bit tougher because of the support thrown behind them from the stands. Not only does that apply for home and away teams, but someone like Luis Suarez suffers quite a bit at certain grounds where he has a bad reputation which may cause him to play a little bit worse than your previous game.

The game was built using the Fox Engine, one which Metal Gear Solid fans may be familiar with and it is said that the engine has been designed for next-gen as well. Strangely though, PES 2014 does look a little better than last year’s game but not in the huge leaps and bounds that you may have expected. The Havok feature in the engine makes use of advanced physics which allows for a complete simulation of each player on the field and the movements are akin to the mass and physique of each individual player. Sounds amazing right?

Well unfortunately, in moving the game towards such realism, it seems that a lot of the arcade fun has been removed from the game. PES has always been the less of the two in terms of simulation, but as a football fan, both games were fun to own. With the new take on simulation, it seems to be trying to close the gap on the FIFA series and to be honest, it’s not too far behind, but perhaps with the few steps forward that the series has taken in trying to be more like its competitor, PES has taken a step backwards in terms of its own identity.

Having said that, problems still loom over its head in certain areas. Nobody at Konami has decided to fix the frame-rate-loss problem that happens whenever a shot goes near the goal or rebounds off the post. The issue now even persists in replays. More often than not, a brilliantly fired shot at the goal will result in the entire game freezing for half a second and then continuing on. This leaves a player not only feeling annoyed that they hit the post, but that short moment where you have no idea what’s going on, has been exemplified through no fault of your own. Another issue is the licensing which still plagues the game and it will leave the more hardcore fans a little disappointed. Understandably, FIFA may have secured the rights for a bunch of teams which might make things tough for Konami, but it’s still not as fun to play with Merseyside Red instead of Liverpool, even though the player names and commentary is all correct in game.

In terms of positives, the gameplay of PES 2014 seems to be a little better than last year. There is much more variety this time round and with thanks to the focus on simulation, each game seems to change depending on team build-up, overall speed and skill. It’s truly the passing man’s game and it feels a little more like skill to place and stretch passes across the field rather than just hitting a button.

Overall though it feels like PES 14 lacks the depth that FIFA may have in terms of core gameplay. The UEFA competitions are still around and still fantastic to be a part of but while the lack of licensing may not affect the most hardcore PES fan, it’s certainly noticeable to someone who wants to compare the two football simulators.

One thing that FIFA has always had in its positive column is the commentary and it feels like PES 2014 hasn’t made much effort in the task to change its commentary for the better. Jon Champion and Jim Beglin struggle throughout the game. It feels like the sentences and lines are strung together without any sort of blending which makes it an absolute mammoth task to try and build any sort of atmosphere in the games you play. I actually took a shot from just in front of the halfway line on the pitch where I was met with Champion shouting that it was a very good chance. This ultimately led to the ball going straight to the keep where ‘Superb save!’ was heard. Thankfully the soundtrack of the game was good enough for me to just ignore these little commentary ditties.

In terms of the game itself, PES 2014 is a step forward in some regards because a lot of the new features and decisions that have made it into the game, improve it for the most part. Certain things feel a little smoother and perhaps even more fluid but it feels like it has lost some of its “fun factor” in terms of the absent arcade memories. With the lack of certain fundamentals, PES 2014 will remain a step behind FIFA as the years go on unless some of the basics are fixed.

70 / 100

Rob 'GrIdL0cK' Clegg has been in the gaming industry for over 15 years and has competed in both local and international tournaments at the highest level. He is also a respected gaming critic and is Telkom Do Gaming’s editor and lead reviewer.

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