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pes

via konami.com

Every year I review “PES” and every year I seem to find myself saying that it’s better than the previous year. I explain that it’s more fun than “Fifa” and that it was my preferred football game growing up, although I’ve owned every game in both franchises since about 2000 (along with others like “Actua Soccer” and “LMA Manager”). I could repeat myself this year by saying all the same things again, but that would be a waste of everyone’s time because “PES 2017” isn’t just better than “PES 2016”, it’s the most sophisticated football game ever made.

That isn’t an exaggeration and it isn’t my initial reaction to being able to binge a new football game, it’s just a fact. That doesn’t mean that it’s perfect, because sadly we don’t live in an ideal world, but as far as passing techniques, fluidity of movement, and general AI programming goes, this game is better than any other football simulator has been.

Now, it’s true that at times “PES 2017” doesn’t necessarily mimic a real game of football, because it doesn’t have all the superficial bells and whistles it needs to achieve this, but the gameplay is brilliant. When you shoot you feel powerful – you feel as though if you put the input in correctly you’ll be able to score a goal – and there’s no delay from  the moment when you press the button to the moment when the player on the screen completes the action. This is something which sadly I can’t say about any other football game that I’ve played, and it’s where the gameplay in “PES” significantly separates itself from the opposition.

If there’s a delay between your input and the player on screen performing an action then what’s happening in the game isn’t really reflecting what you’re trying to do, and thus the game isn’t actually working. This kind of thing wouldn’t be accepted in any other type of game, so it shouldn’t be accepted when it comes to a sports game. The game isn’t doing its job if it isn’t simulating the true experience of playing football, so what I’m actually saying is that “PES 2017” is the first football game ever made that works; it’s the first football game ever made that isn’t completely broken!

pes-2

via flickr.com

What matters more than anything when playing a football game is that you’re respected as the player and that your ideas for how football should be played can be implemented in the game. In “PES 2017” this is definitely the case, as you can play a variety of styles successfully (the long ball, tika-taka, etc.), and each team has their own identity. If you play as Stoke with Bony and Crouch up front then you aren’t going to want to play the ball along the floor, so your build-up speed will change as you play a longer style of pass. This makes playing as Stoke feel different than playing as Manchester City, who have a smaller and more skillful team, and thus the game has more variety than other football games without having to actually do anything additional. This all sounds very simple, but in other football games like “Fifa” the AI constantly pass the ball short and try to keep possession no matter whether you’re playing against Barcelona or Accrington Stanley, which ruins the whole experience for me.

Nevertheless, “PES 2017” still has its issues. Whilst the game is responsive, looks great, and plays exceptionally well, there are recurring problems that I’ve mentioned when reviewing “PES” games of years gone by that rear their heads once more. The tackling is still an issue, as you can’t really do anything other than commit assault or prod your leg in the general direction of the ball. You can still win the ball and as the player you learn when to do one thing or the other, but it’s a shame that those are your only options.

There’s also the fact that the game isn’t fully licensed; so league names, stadium names, and kits aren’t as they should be. This isn’t a massive issue from my perspective – it’s a problem with EA and their cutthroat approach to business more than anything else – but it can be a little annoying. I have to say that I’d find it hard to play “PES” every year if my brother didn’t take the time to meticulously edit to the point where everything is correctly named and looks right visually, but I still think that if you like how “PES” plays then it’s worth buying and editing yourself.

Other issues include poor refereeing and a lack of game modes to play, but the former isn’t a frequent problem and the latter is ameliorated by the fact that the game modes that are in the game are made more entertaining by the quality of the gameplay.

So, overall I think that “PES 2017” is a truly excellent football game. I love how it plays and I find it very addictive, which is the most important thing when it comes to a sports game. It isn’t perfect, but it improves on last year’s game and it plays better than the recently released “Fifa 17” demo.

9/10

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