One of the bitterest rivalries in gaming would arguably be the one between EA’s FIFA and Konami’s Pro Evolution Soccer – commonly referred to as PES – series of games. These two are hailed as the best football simulation games in the market, and have been for numerous years now. But as to who is actually better may be up for debate until the end of time. The jury is still out with the release of PES 2014, however, as although it was able to tighten up enough features of its predecessors, there were still bits and pieces that makes FIFA 14 just about one up on this particular title.
For one, the licensing war has really made an impact in PES, as it does not feature any Spanish stadiums. FIFA was able to grab the lead when it came to snatching up exclusive licenses which actually left PES in the dirt in some aspects. The game does feature about twenty stadiums, though, as well as different teams from the AFC Champions League, the Argentine Primera Division, the UEFA Super Cup and Europa League, and the Copa Sudamericana, among others. The game also offers multilingual commentaries such as Arabic, Argentinian, and Chilean.
Sadly, rain is an element that will not be featured in the newest iteration of the franchise. This is because doing so would require a complete rehash of the game, something that would not be possible due to time constraints. This is completely understandable as PES is one of the most realistic games that you will be able to get your hands on, and having rain without it affecting gameplay would have really made an impact in the direction that PES was going for.
PES 2014 uses the new Fox Engine, which was specifically designed by Kojima Productions, in cooperation with the Havok physics engine provides crisp and smooth visuals as well as several factors that will affect elements during gameplay. In fact, many have stated that the animations in PES are far superior than FIFA 14, something that could not be said as far as previous years’ game were concerned. Konami has also gone through great pains to ensure that all tussles, collisions, and sprints were as realistic as possible, making you feel as if you are right there in the field yourself.
The game also features a refurbished Player ID system where players are instantly distinguishable not only by their facial features and uniforms, but with the actual way that they are running and carrying the ball. While this has already been done in PES 13 for about 50 players, this number has been expanded greatly in the current installment, further proving PES’ devotion to providing the most realistic experience for football video gamers as possible.
The Heart System as well as the Combination Plan are great additions to the game as well. With the Heart System, momentum can shift to your favor, allowing you to make easier shots and can greatly affect the performance of a player or the entire team. Like in real life, having the crowd on your bag can definitely be a great morale boost and can translate to better play. The Combination Plan, on the other hand, allows for better planning and coordination between players, giving you more control of what’s actually happening in the field.
Aside from the Motion Animation Stability System (MASS) which provides animations as it happens and not just some canned sequences that play out once buttons have been pressed, one of the six key elements that have been made as a mission statement of sorts for PES 14 is the TrueBall Tech, where in the ball becomes an actual separate entity. Several factors can now affect how the ball will go such as how it was passed and received. Even the weigh shifts of the players on either foot as well as the angles by which the make passes or shots are taken into consideration. This provides a whole new layer of challenge in how runs and goals are made, requiring a decent learning curve even for the most experienced of players. it is in these areas where players will need to be a lot patient, as well as in the lackluster AI teammates that you will be forced to team with, something that has plagued any video game in the history of forever.
These shortcomings, however, are actually forgivable, although the exclusion of the Stadium Editor might put off quite a bit of the population that has been following the franchise for several years. Still, the effort in making the best football game by Konami can be seen, and players will definitely be able to appreciate the gesture. To say that PES 2014 is one of the most realistic football games that you will get your hands on is a matter of debate, especially when you’re in an argument with a diehard FIFA fan. Still, this latest installment in the PES series of games will definitely give FIFA a run for its money in the battle for the title of best football video game in the market today.
Tested on Xbox 360. Final Score: 8/10
Pro Evolution Soccer 2014 was developed by PES Productions and was distributed by Konami. It is available for Microsoft Windows, Playstation 2 and 3, Playstation Portable, Xbox 360, and the Nintendo 3DS. It was released on September 20, 2013 in the United Kingdom, on September 24, 2013 in North America, and on September 19, 2013 in other regions.