PES 2017 – Preview

While we are yet to see MyClub or Master League in action, we find it unlikely
the modes have seen any major UI overhauls; judging by how unintuitive it was to make a few
substitutions, at any rate.

There’s little question that Pro Evolution Soccer is more skilled and technically proficient than FIFA on the ball, but is it as fun? That’s a difficult question to answer, largely because it depends entirely on what you’re looking for from your annual interactive sports. FIFA continues to do its best to simulate the spectator sport experience, pumping funds into licensing, corporate branding and player likeness to capture the culture of football. PES 2017, on the other hand, is attempting to simulate the sport itself. Last year’s instalment was so good that it was difficult to find any reason to stay away from Konami Stadium; nothing has changed in this respect. PES 2017 is a confident showing, even on an early playable build. The hundreds of new animations introduced into the game are immediately noticeable, with individual player traits and fluid styles of play are better replicated than before. It’s a little overwhelming, seeing players shift their weight as they move the ball between their feet so accurately mimicking the real thing – but it isn’t long before you appreciate the nuance to it all.

To support the new animations, PES Productions has also changed the ways in which you are able to shift around the pitch. Balls no longer latch onto feet as if by magic, with passes rocketing between players; timing and positioning are key. PES 2017 is a more technically involved game than its official counterpart, and a missed chance or opportunity can quickly turn into a devastating counter-attack. The precise movement and extended control system only serves to make the end result feel all the more satisfying. It’s still ridiculously entertaining to score a goal in PES. It still feels like you really earned it. It feels like a real triumph to curl a ball in at a tight angle from 30 yards or work a precision one-two through the box, especially as the improved goalkeepers will only be beaten by the very best of shots. What isn’t quite so spectacular, however, is the action that happens off the pitch. Unless the game gets a significant UI overhaul ahead of its Q3 2016 launch, it’s likely we will be once again trapped with another clunky PES menu system and another unintuitive player management toolset.

It’s a shame because that, coupled with the lack of licences, feels like all it is that’s keeping PES tugging at FIFA’s shirt. As 2016’s showing demonstrated, PES is now more than capable of holding its own against any rival. It has demonstrated unprecedented growth and strength – it’s difficult to imagine that this won’t be its best season yet – but a few core competencies continue to hold it back.

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