Alavaro Morata, Arjen Robben, Become A Legend, EA Sports, Fernando Llorente, Fifa, Fifa 16, Fifa Ultimate Team, Football, Game Review, Halo, Halo: The Master Chief Collection, Konami, Master League, My Club, Neymar, Online Gameplay, PES 2016, Pro Evolution Soccer
“PES 2016” is a fun and responsive game, with great gameplay and realistic player techniques. Konami have finally managed to build something which resembles the quality that this series is known for, which as a fan makes me very happy, but I still feel that it has been slightly overrated by reviewers, and it is far from perfect.
If you made a list of all the things that “PES 2016” gets wrong – inconsistent commentary, a lack of licensing, ignored player transfers, over exuberant tackling, ridiculously underpowered penalties, completely broken online gameplay, and dodgy presentation – you’d feel very disgruntled. However, football games never achieve perfection, and despite the fact that there are multiple frustrating issues here, “PES 2016” is very enjoyable to play. The gameplay has been made more intuitive and feels much more fluid, with the techniques that the players choose being largely contextual, and the input delay of the previous game being fixed. It makes you feel like a great player, even if you aren’t, and when you’re losing it’s still fun to play. There’s still a massive divide between saying that this game has improved, to saying that it is fantastic, but “PES 2016” is definitely a step in the right direction.
Negative aspects of “PES 2016”, such as the way that players lunge into slide tackles, are ameliorated by the fact that the game does its best to accommodate them. The tackling animations are far too deliberate to allow players to quickly steal possession, but this doesn’t ruin the gameplay because poor tackles aren’t punished as harshly as they have been in previous years, and to combat the issue you just have to defend with a more measured approach. This helps the balancing of the game, because “PES 2016” is clearly focused on passing and creativity, and this is easier to centre your gameplay style around when the opposition isn’t lunging into tackles.
The gameplay tweaks that Konami have made this year aren’t as revolutionary or all-encompassing as many would have you believe, but they do focus on the right things. The techniques that players use for both passing and shooting are fantastic – never before has the joy of making a good pass been realised in such a triumphant way. Matches progress naturally and the game always seems to know which technique the player wants to use. This is great because you feel respected as a gamer – “PES 2016” lets you perform the actions that you want to perform, providing that you can power the pass correctly and direct it. Usually sports games only allow certain types of actions depending on the situation, with many passes being simply off limits because the requisite techniques aren’t in the game – such problems don’t arise here, which makes “PES 2016” feel a lot more responsive and gives each match its own distinct feel.
Sometimes shooting can feel too easy, which means that you score a lot of spectacular goals without really earning them, but I don’t think that this should be something that’s criticised excessively. If you cut inside with Robben and release a curled shot it will invariably find the corner, or at least test even the best of ‘keepers, but in all fairness that would probably also be the case in real life. It isn’t a bad thing that players are able to pull off their skills in a consistent way, because they are able to do that in the real world. This just means that you have to work harder at the defensive side of your game to stop the best players finding space.
The aerial battle in “PES 2016” feels so much better than it has ever done before, which allows players to feel distinct and have their own personalities. Depending on your style of play Fernando Llorente could be the best player in your team, because he backs into his marker so well and holds up the ball amazingly, bringing others into play. However, if you don’t like playing the long ball he will probably be the last player you want on the pitch. This means that your team selections and the substitutions you make genuinely have an impact on both your style of play and how the game feels, which in turn makes it feel that bit more realistic.
Despite these significant improvements, there are still plenty of aspects to “PES 2016” which let the overall experience down. Just as in previous years, the online side of the game is completely broken and almost unplayable. If you think back to last year and the way that “Halo : The Master Chief Collection” was crucified for its online issues, you have to wonder why nobody is bringing up the same problem with “PES 2016”. It might seem like a bit of a non-starter to compare “PES” with “The Master Chief Collection”, but both have great offline play but broken online play and both are competitive games at their core. Online play would be a huge part of “PES 2016” if it actually worked – the only reason that no one brings up the issue is that “PES” never works online, so we’ve come to accept it. I don’t think that this issue is trivial, particularly given the fact that “Fifa 16” works extremely well during online play.
Nevertheless, other modes in “PES 2016” have been improved significantly, particularly in terms of their presentation. They still don’t have the polish that “Fifa 16” does, but they look a lot better. Master League is a much better mode this year, not only because the layout of the menus is less jarring, but also as a result of additions which have been made, such as the scout and team morale. The latter works like team chemistry does on Ultimate Team, which is a nice feature because you now have to think about what a certain player will mean to the balance of your team should you sign him, which likens playing Master League to managing a real team.
Become a Legend is as fun as ever – as always I love building my player and progressing to a higher level; however, the same issues that appeared in last year’s game rear their ugly heads again. Teammates still pass in front of you no matter what kind of run you’re making, the defenders on your team back off as though the floor around the opposition was made out of hot coals, and all in all the AI on “PES 2016” lacks the intelligence you see in “Fifa 16”. Become a Legend is a great mode, but when your teammates are clueless it loses some of its entertainment value.
My Club is there, but for my money it’s still a cheap Ultimate Team knock-off. I don’t see why you’d want to play this mode when the online gameplay is in its current state, so personally I tend to ignore it. I did give it a chance for the purpose of this review, but I don’t see myself playing on it again this year.
Overall, “PES 2016” offers a fun and much-improved single-player experience, with wonderful new techniques and an improved Master League; it makes you think of “PES 2015” in a completely different way. Nevertheless, competitive gameplay is frustrating and online gameplay is absolutely broken, meaning that although “PES 2016” takes a solid step forward, it isn’t quite the game that it promises to be.