With FIFA dominating the football game market over the past 4 years Konami have been slowly working their way back into the fold with Pro Evolution Soccer 2015 – The decision to make the 2014 version last gen only was not only brave but possibly quite clever too. Could this be the year that PES could send the game into Extra Time? Quite possibly.
I’ll be the first to admit that I am very Pro FIFA, but that came off the back of being firmly in the PES camp. Year after year PES played the better game, but EA worked hard to make FIFA into an excellent game, this year though it’s a very buggy affair, being able to score from kick off with complete ease, and keepers performances at times are shocking, there is plenty that needs fixing and it’s a good opportunity for PES to get a foothold back in the market.
PES is much more of a simulation of football, patience is key, when you are attacking your passing needs to be accurate, you may have to pass 20 times to break a defence down, looking for the one defence splitting pass. Whereas when you are defending you are waiting for a mistake to nip in and nick the ball, trying to keep you back line organised so that you are pushing your opponents back.
My FIFA brain struggled with this at first trying to sprint past players was not as straightforward and I struggled with defending, my first five games had five sendings off so I needed to learn to be more selective with my slide tackles. When I finally starting scoring goals I felt like I had worked really hard to get them, only to discover that I was no longer in control of my player so had to watch a forced celebration.
PES productions have worked really hard to improve player likenesses and in most cases it does look really impressive, and their movements on the pitch are too, the players feel weightier so when you are putting pressure on a defender they have no choice but to slow down, some players may be able to shrug you off, while other will be forced to turn back on themselves to look for other options. Shooting is good for the most part, although the finesse button I found very awkward. It may just be but if my player is good enough he should be able to strike the shot without breaking his stride, but in PES the momentum seems to force the play to stop before striking the ball, it just never felt very natural.
Appearances aren’t everything but with the big campaign about how good the player models and faces were I felt a bit let down by the overall presentation again. The commentators in Jim Beglin and John Champion are good but their scripts are very limited, it wasn’t long until I heard the same lines again and again. The atmosphere in stadiums has improved greatly, the roar of the crowd as a shot just goes wide is great, but it still falls short against FIFA presentation. The official licensing is important to me, as an Arsenal I want to be playing in the latest kits, in our stadium with the roar of our crowd, so it’s a shame to have to play as North London with stripy kits; however there is plenty of licensed action in there too.
Fans of the European competitions are in for a treat with fully licensed UEFA Champions League and Europa Cup competitions, you can also take part in the Asian Champions League and some foreign leagues such as La Liga. It was great to actually have Arsenal win something…(Editors note – I thought you said it was realistic Dave)
There are plenty other games modes to play through such as MyClub, a feature that has been heavily requested by the fans. It’s essentially an alternative version of FIFA Ultimate team but with a PES twist. Instead of packs you can purchase agents to sign a specified player based on the criteria given to them, the better the agent you sign the better quality player you will receive. As you play through the mode you’ll earn GP points which allow you to purchase all sorts of extra to lead your team to glory. I actually enjoyed this mode a lot more than I thought I would so I would encourage you to try it out.
Taking the game online has been good fun too, it seems standard these days for the multiplayer features of a game to only turned on a day or so before an embargo which is a bit frustrating but eventually I had time to take on and ultimately take a beating from people all over the world. 11 vs 11 lobbies are worth taking art in but unless you are with friends you’ll spend more time chasing your own team for a slice of the action.
The menus in the game are much easier to navigate, and a nice features has been added where you are able to ‘pin’ you favourite modes to the front screen, making moving around much quicker. The soundtrack to the game is also much improved, with the likes of Imagine Dragons and Ellie Goulding.
As a die hard FIFA fan I’m pleased to see PES getting good again, there are so many improvements on the past few years that the game has become fun to play again. Personally I prefer the in your face action of FIFA but if you are PES person, you are going to be very happy this year.
MLG Rating: 8.5/10 Format: PlayStation 4/ PlayStation 3 / Xbox One / Xbox 360 Release Date: 13/11/2014
Disclosure: Midlife Gamer were provided a copy of PES 2015 by the publisher for review purposes. The title was reviewed over the course of 1 week on a Xbox One. For more information on what our scores mean, plus details of our reviews policy, click here.