Pro Evolution Soccer has a dedicated fanbase that has stood by the series through its ups and downs; mostly downs. The rise of EA’s FIFA has always been something that Konami were unable to answer in a convincing fashion, not only due to the depth of licenses EA holds, but also due to the presence of a better online infrastructure.
While FIFA has been arguable iterating slowly each year, it’s PES’ chance to gain on its competition and this year they’ve done just that by switching to Kojima Productions’ FOX Engine. Has the switch really benefited the game or has it proven to be superficial?
I would say the former. PES 2014 features realistic graphics and character models and if you have played the previous games in the series, the improvement is noticeable here. FOX Engine has given the series an infusion of fresh blood and whether Konami can capitalize on that in the future installments, remains to be seen.
The game will be familiar to most PES fans. The main thing that separates PES from FIFA is the gameplay on offer, and arguably I can say that PES’ gameplay tends to be more satisfying due to the variety of moves and the way players animate.
There have been a few changes this year to the gameplay. The game speed for once has been increased and this has resulted in difficult dribbling, but if you can pull that off, it tends to be really satisfying. Dribbling depends on the game speed a lot because of how fast you can react to the defenders while maneuvering the ball. The game speed change hasn’t really changed the gameplay much, but it does feel a little different.
PES is a little difficult for newcomers because of its complex controls. You can make the default controls to what FIFA has but the advanced skills and passing techniques will require you to invest a lot of time in the game and master it. FIFA on the other hand is sort of a pick-up-and-play game and that’s one of the reasons why it has soared in popularity so much.
PES 2014 looks great when it comes to the character models and even the stadiums look good, however, the entire presentation seems to be on the dull side. There’s less colour and the lighting seems to be really odd in certain situations. I’m not sure whether that was intentional but it really does take you out of the game sometimes.
Other issue I had with the game is with the frame rate. There are many times when the game runs at a sub-30 fps and while this is a problem with FIFA as well, this year’s PES seems to be worse in this regard. The aging consoles probably cannot handle the FOX Engine at that visual fidelity but the game is definitely playable.
The modes should be familiar to most PES players. There are three main modes: Master League, Become A Legend, and League. You can set up competitions, play the wonderful UEFA Champions League and more. Master League lets you be the manager and it requires a lot of time and patience from your end to check out everything it has to offer.
Become a Legend mode is straightforward and lets you build your own custom player. There are some new technologies added to the game featuring fancy names but I’m not really sure whether things like “TrueBall Tech” and things actually makes a difference.
The problem with PES has always been the lack of licenses due to strong competition from EA and FIFA. While Konami has been trying hard to bring back PES to its former glory, it seems they have their work cut out for them and maybe the next iteration on the PS4 and Xbox One could be just the thing that may work in their favour.
PES 2014 contains a lot of content and some improvements to the gameplay. The new engine makes the game look better but the presentation remains dull as ever. That’s probably not an issue for fans though, since they’ve always valued PES’ gameplay, however, it’s clear that there still needs to be a lot of improvements to the core gameplay and presentation if PES hopes to become a sales juggernaut.