When you think of gaming's biggest rivalries down the years, you probably think of Mario vs Sonic, Call Of Duty
vs PES if you're a football fan. Year after year, these two footballing titans trade blows with each other to see who is the best recreation of the most popular sport on the planet. Pro Evolution Soccer 2017
takes the first shot this year, but is it a light jab at its counterpart or a knockout punch?
Not a bad view to start off with, I must say
On the pitch, PES 2017
is up there as one of the best football games on the planet. For those that played the franchise's instalment last year, it's essentially the same but with added improvements. There's the 'Real Touch' system that allows a player to make space in a variety of ways after receiving a pass and the 'Precise Pass' system that gives more control over the weight and direction of a pass. Those that may have been annoyed at goalkeepers last year will be glad to hear that they've been improved this time out. They'll still make mistakes, naturally, but they feel like errors that their real-life counterpart would make themselves.
For those who are new to the series, your favourite team and players feel like they should thanks in no small part to the game's Team and Player ID systems. Barcelona likes to have as much of the ball as possible, whereas the likes of Leicester are better suited to counter-attacking. It may feel a bit slower overall than rival FIFA
, but that also means that it feels more measured and more satisfying to correctly pull a move, whether it's a last ditch sliding tackle or an injury-time winner.
It's not quite the same as watching your team win in real life but there's definitely an adrenaline rush with each goal
Almost every part of the controller is used in one form or another with more complicated manoeuvres generally requiring a combination of inputs. While this may sound overwhelming, particularly to those new to the game or sport, there are training drills that will allow you to get used to most of the skills away from the pressures of an actual match. From simple actions like moving and passing the ball, to the more complicated techniques like lofted through balls, each drill starts off easily and then increases in difficulty providing everyone old or new with a good way to get to grips with the game.
Unfortunately, there is a lack of innovation with the game's selection of modes. This may seem initially strange when there's a decent amount of choice on offer both online and offline, but many of these modes have remained the same as they have for years. With rival FIFA 17
adding to their variety with the intriguing (at least in concept) story mode and other games like the football-based Rocket League
having taken the world by storm, PES
seems a little uninspiring on this front this year.
This isn't actually from the opener, but from a match. And yes, Neymar - true to real life - did get booked for the celebration
Before all of that, though, the first thing that is seen when loading up the game is a short video of the Nou Camp and some of Barcelona's finest strutting their stuff. It's an impressive opener, even if main man Lionel Messi isn't sporting the blonde locks that he does nowadays. Using a variety of moves that are possible in-game, albeit with changes in camera angles that would be rather jarring whilst playing, this short video really showcases PES 2017
at its best graphically. Everything to do with the Catalan club is beautifully recreated from stadium to the players, both in terms of how they look and how they move. Even in that short space of time, you can tell the attention to detail that Konami can put in when they have the licenses to do so.
This makes it such a shame that licenses are still such a big issue by and large. While there have been small improvements in that regard with the likes of Liverpool and Borussia Dortmund teaming up with Konami alongside a few competition licenses, like the UEFA Champions League and Europa League, large swathes of teams and leagues remain unlicensed. This leads to the oddity of some great player models that are stuck on teams on teams like LONDON FC in a kit that looks nothing like the team that it's supposed to represent. This isn't necessarily the fault of Konami, but this lack of licenses will turn off those that want a level of authenticity in addition to a good football game.
So I know this is not particularly great... But it's a lot better than this
This issue is compounded by a lacklustre editing suite. While you can edit the names of pretty much everything that you need - bye bye LONDON FC in the English League, hello CHELSEA in the Premier League - the kit editor isn't great and there's no logo editor whatsoever. This process can also be rather time consuming, especially when you take into account the amount of teams where editing will be needed. Changing everything about LONDON FC into a basic version of Chelsea took half an hour. Expanding to the other 17 unlicensed teams in the league, the process of creating a semi-reasonable facsimile of the Premier League takes multiple hours; this is with some mercifully easy kits to recreate and ignoring goalkeeper kits entirely. The added salt in the wound for the Xbox owners is that the PC and PS4 versions have the ability to import perfect recreations that are made by the PES community, something that is missing on Xbox.
Finally, we get to the achievements. Those that played Pro Evolution Soccer 2016
last year will be very familiar with this year's list, save for a few new achievements for doing specific things in a match. While some will be earned for simply beating the AI in a few of the game's modes, you'll need put a lot more time into some of the others for a full completion. In addition, there are a few online achievements to collect; with somewhat lengthy waiting times of a minute or so for each match already, it may be worth aiming for those sooner rather than later.
For those who are simply looking for the best football game around, there are few better than Pro Evolution Soccer 2017
thanks to additions and improvements all over the pitch from the previous entries in the franchise. However, with only a small range of licenses and a lacklustre editor, those that value authenticity, an entirely reasonable demand considering that the aim of these games is to recreate the sport to its fullest, may want to wait a few weeks to see how the new FIFA fares before making a purchase.
- Great gameplay on the pitch
- Player models are great
- Licensed teams are spot on
- Lack of licenses overall harms authenticity
- Lacklustre editing tools
- Modes on offer may feel tired to long-term fans of PES
This reviewer earned 21 of the game's 48 achievements of offer, playing for roughly 14 hours. A physical copy of the game was provided by the publisher.