Pro Evolution Soccer 2016 feels amazing to play. For all its flaws, the one thing this series got right was the gameplay. That has been tuned and perfected to such an extent in PES 2016 that any football fan would instantly fall in love with it.
The FIFA series always had the advantage due to the sheer amount of licensed teams, slick UI, well tuned gameplay, and a ton of modes. This meant that all EA had to do was add a bunch of new things and tweak the graphics a little and they could release a new football game each year. It was struggle for Konami to keep up with EA because for one, they can’t match EA’s financial might, and two, they never really put any sort of effort in trying to make the best football game they can.
Fox Engine’s introduction proved to be a revelation though. Better lighting, environments, and player models has elevated the presentation significantly. It looks even better in motion. The fluidity of the gameplay, aggressive tackles, and the new physics system, all come together to provide one of the best football experiences you can get on your consoles.
The gameplay in PES 2016 is simply fantastic and that is mainly due to the excellent AI. There are many difficulty modes and if you choose the default one, scoring a goal or defending a lead will require a lot of concentration and skill. One mistake and you could lose that lead you held on to for so many minutes. Although, for new players I recommend switching to an easier difficulty because the AI can get really brutal sometimes.
The collision detection system is fantastic too. You can’t simply press circle and go guns blazing at a player who has the ball. It will most definitely result in a red card. If someone takes the ball off of you, there is a slight period of recovery where it prevents you from taking the ball back immediately. It is very realistic and encourages you to keep possession and just keep passing the ball around.
The controls are very fluid and if you’ve been playing PES games for a long time, you can settle in almost immediately. There is hardly any input lag and what you press is what you see on screen. It is also a testament to the Fox Engine that it churns out great visuals without actually taxing the hardware a lot. This can be seen in the recently released game from Konami, Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain.
Licenses have always been a problem with Konami. They simply can’t compete with EA in this aspect. Majority of the teams in PES 2016 are unlicensed and despite the exhilarating gameplay, it still stings a lot. The commentary is a bit disappointing too with Peter Drury and Jim Beglin repeating many lines.
Most of the gameplay modes found in previous PES games are back like Master League, Champions League, Be a Legend Mode, and MyClub. All these modes will provide a ton of content to keep you playing the game for a long time. MyClub in particular has a bunch of changes this time around but nothing too significant.
PES will always have major faults which may or may not be fixed in future games. Things like licenses requires a lot of money and seeing Konami’s state right now, especially with their business model shift away from AAA games, it doesn’t look like they will be willing to spend a lot to bring PES on par with FIFA. However, when it comes to pure gameplay you won’t find a football game right now on the market that offers such a perfect experience.
This year it’s time to give PES a try and hopefully it will convince Konami to put more effort in future games. PES 2016 is an amazing football game that offers great presentation, gameplay, content and also has a challenging AI. That’s a good recipe for success.