Do not prepare your self for a revolution. This is not a revamped, restyled PES. This is a refined, polished, smoother PES. However I am quick to say this is not PES 2014 1/2. This is a new game, ready to utilise the power of the fox engine. I’ve said previously that 2014 was using technology on consoles that couldn’t cope, now the same technology is on far superior machines and the difference is clear.
This is an extremely early code, what we saw at E3 is not what will ship out to the public come it’s release. Having said that, if the game did ship like this, I could be happy in the knowledge it played a decent game of football, not great but decent and more importantly a fun game of football. I played against the AI and against my human brothers. I had fun on all occasions. This fun element was missing entirely from PES 2014 and yet it was the word thrown around the most in the beautiful Konami booth/bar.I think it is fair to say that no one was overwhelmed by the game, but at this stage, it being Konami’s first next gen attempt and the fact that PES 2014 ended up so poorly received, the mere fact that the game kept bringing me back to the Konami booth says a lot. I wanted to play it, and the difference in game play is most definitely noticeable and improved. Passing was much crisper and while I initially had an issue with the way players turned, that quickly evaporated with more time with the game. I even called Mr Adam Bhatti over to show him the problem I was having and while trying to reproduce it realised that it wasn’t as bad as I thought it was. Shooting is improved but is still not quite snappy enough. Keepers pluck things out of the air too easily for my liking but that may be just me. Keepers can throw far too long, but this is something that has most definitely been fed back. Dribbling has been improved, I had a huge issue with the fact that it felt like you could only walk or sprint. Now it feels much more natural and the pace is just right, you can also no longer spam the sprint forward mechanic of pressing R1 repeatedly to push on as spamming it will more than likely cause you to either run it straight into the keeper or out for a throw/goal kick. I felt the AI was improved too, with teams playing according to the score in the games I played against them. At the start of games the teams would retain possession and try to carve out opportunities to score, but if they were a goal down and running out of time they would push on and try to equalise with much more intensity. Of course, as only two teams were available to us (Juventus & Bayern Munich) we could only test out so much but I am very excited to play with different teams with different playing styles.
My main game play gripe is that while the game is fun, I felt like it wasn’t… exciting. I hadn’t once experienced periods where the game was end to end, frantic & a little bit crazy. That is not to say that you can’t have them, but in my time with it I didn’t. More time/different teams/opponents/situations are needed to truly see if it is possible.
My main game play plus however kind of contradicts the last paragraph. PES moments are back. While the last paragraph was my dismay at lack of exciting periods, you can most certainly have exciting moments. We had those beautiful moments where everyone jumps up with enthusiasm and watch back the replay 100 times before actually continuing with the game. They were not just there, they were there in abundance. That fuels addiction, the same addiction I previously stated I had lost.
Graphically, there is not a huge leap, that much is true. But remember one thing. How impressed have we all been by the graphical power of the fox engine in PES 2014? We all said that the graphics were not the issue we wanted Konami to be looking at. Faces look pretty stunning, and 2014 was spectacular when it came to player faces, the newly released faces are impeccable. If there was one negative thing to say about the graphics it would be from the mouth of our own Gari Clark. He made the very good point that the lighting just didn’t look natural, and that it gave the game almost a cartoony feel. This is the case in 2014 too so most of you will know what we mean already. I will readily accept though that the leap to next gen was small even if I believe we have a beautiful game.
We can confirm though that Konami are back to looking at the minor details too, little things like player names returning to the bottom of the screen are back and to the pleasing of every single fan! Hopefully we will see more little touches like this as more information gets released.
I won’t go as far as to say PES is back, because it’s not. What I will say say is that it is on it’s way if it carries on down the path it’s on. It was so encouraging to see Konami listen to us while we played, take videos of problems we had with the game and give us their honest thoughts on PES 2015. There is only more to come before we can truly say whether or not 2015 is a success in any shape or form and it is still very early days, but I am personally pleased with the progress I have seen. Cautiously optimistic is perhaps the best way to put it. PES has promised so much in recent years and failed to deliver, could it be creeping back in to the homes of many who had lost hope by the end of the year? There is a lot of time left until we know what type of game we truly have on our hands but initial signs are promising, even if just a little.