PES 2014 Review

With the FIFA vs PES battle now largely a critical rather than commercial one (that war has been long-won), PES 2014 finds itself in the position of competing with itself to satisfy a loyal and not-so loyal fan base. To its credit, it does so with gusto.

A new engine underpins proceedings, and this Fox-powered PES is initially both dazzling and daunting. The physics-driven animation system is superb – there are countless ways in which players bounce off one another or shift their weight between their feet that look almost real. At first, though, this feels like it has caused the series’ famous responsiveness to suffer, making dribbling tough and passing moves laborious.

In fact, it’s just a learning curve rather than something rotten within PES' core. Studious use of the run button makes dribbling different, but now even more effective. It’s all about judging and reacting to sways in momentum, rather than belligerent sprinting. Players being hassled by tenacious opponents will struggle to act with the same speed as those in open play, too, so it pays to know when and where to attack.

That’s the thing with PES. It’s never been a game where you’re immediately excellent. Have you previously conquered online, or strolled through PES 2013 on Superstar difficulty? It’ll still take weeks to adjust to every nuance and alteration. And with this being the most dramatic update the series has had in years, it’s no surprise the first few matches feel off.

Crucially, though, that intangible PES magic remains and expands with the potential of the new engine; matches take on their own personalities (helped by new player emotions – perform well and your play will visibly improve during the game) and you’ll discuss great goals for years, especially now that shooting and heading are weightier, more natural feeling. Even Master League is better. Streamlined and slicker than last year’s bizarre cut-scene driven noise.

The best football title this year? We’ll have to wait until FIFA appears. Until then, Konami’s back on top of the heap.


Two days left before the big PES final in London!

504,367 goals scored, 189,917 PES games played, 12 finalists, 2 tickets for the UEFA Champions League final! The biggest tournament in the history of PES is coming to an end in a few days and the upcoming weekend should be legendary!

On the 25th of May, 12 of the best PES players in Europe will be meeting in London for the final tournament of the PES UEFA Champions Festival. The contestants will be divided into two groups of six for the group stage; the top two will then go through to the semi finals and the two finalists will play on the main stage of the Champions Festival in London’s Olympic Park. The grand winner will get two tickets for the UEFA Champions League final at Wembley Stadium for a unique experience he won’t forget.

And because we don’t want you to be left out, we will be offering all our fans live coverage of the event on our Twitter @officialpes and updates on our Facebook page throughout the day so you can share this unique moment with all the PES community.

The 12 contestants for the final tournament of the PES UEFA Champions Festival are:

Wide (Germany)
Wuao88 (Spain)
John95200 (France)
uzaki_pesvn (UK)
akisgt (Greece)
akkalicious (Netherlands)
AssCandy- (Nordics)
artkiller94 (Portugal)
RusVenom2013 (Russia)
Simegal_Erman (Turkey)
rayon–x– (Rest of Europe – Belgium)
Thanks to our sponsors UEFA and PlayStation, all of them will be receiving an epic goodie bag with a PS Vita, an Official Jacques Lemans Champions League watch, a year’s PlayStation Plus subscription, an official match ball and few extra items to remember this unique day.

Don’t forget to follow the final tournament of the PES UEFA Champions Festival this Saturday on our Twitter @officialpes and Pro Evolution Soccer Facebook page. Get ready to cheer for your favourite contestant! They will need your support!

PES 2013 review: At last, Konami gets it right...

Over recent seasons, Pro Evolution Soccer has imported an increasing amount of its DNA from fighting games. Scan PES 2013's move lists and you're left wondering if your Master League team would be better served signing Ryu over Rooney, such is the volume of button-and-stick combos for flicks, tricks, shimmies, special shots and off-the-ball manoeuvres.

While PES remains perfectly playable on lower difficulties, if you ignore all these fripperies, you're found out when you move up to the Pro levels or venture online. It's a far cry from the simple days of ISS Pro 98. However, even if you find learning Cruyff turns a turn-off, in PES 2013 there's one button that it's crucial to get to grips with, and that's R2/RT. This one button unlocks a whole new way of approaching PES, in both attack and defence, and almost singlehandedly makes 2013's offering the best of this console generation. When you're in possession, R2/RT is used to trap the ball, and, if you've timed it properly, will buy you a yard of space to prise open any defence.
It sounds (and is) relatively simple but once you've mastered its contextual application, it's a revelation. For years, football games have banged on about their 'unprecedented levels of authenticity', but coupled with masterly ball physics and contextual player animations, this really is a genuine step forward, not a nebulous claim.

If you ignore the depth of options, you'll be found out on Pro levels...
In defence, R2/RT is used with X/A for hold-up play, a counter to the new attacking wizardry. Pressing the buttons together makes your defender stand a few yards off the attacker, which gives you a few moments to assess the threat they pose and time your tackle judiciously. Again, it's fairly simple stuff, although you will need to practice pretty hard to nail it. Either way, it makes the footy you play seem that little bit closer to the game you watch on a Super Sunday.

For those who can be bothered to delve into the vast training menu, there are additional (if fiddly) new moves like double touch, nutmegs and instant flick ups, bolted on to the core R2/RT mechanic. Also new and of note is the 'dynamic one-two', where you can use the right stick to guide the player initiating the move in any direction you like before they receive the ball again. We found this fiddly to learn and stormed off the training pitch in a huff before getting our heads fully around it. More the fool us, as normal one-twos are now less effective, defenders tracking the move closer than they used to.

Keepers are more adept at parrying shots to safety, not into the path of strikers. Sadly, those of lesser ability are often 'megged or beaten at their near post. Player ID makes star players more effective. Messi's centre of gravity allows jock-strap-tight turns, but you'll need to learn player's styles properly to take advantage in the heat of battle.

Football Life returns with Master League, Become A Legend and Master League Online, while 2012's Club Boss mode is quietly - and sensibly - retired. The Champions League and Copa Libertadores are again present as standalone competitions for up to 32 players (32!) and the Copa now includes fully-licensed teams from the Brazilian league. We'll have to wait to find out how the online options, such as ranking matches and social communities, pan out after the game is released. As a package, PES 2013 offers hundreds of hours of value.
Inevitably, it's almost a given that the commentary is naff and lags way behind FIFA's. We're sick of writing the same thing about it every year so let's just leave you with this pearl from Jon Champion: "This is what threatens to kill football. Negative tactics. These managers should be ashamed of themselves." Jon, that's the least of football's worries.

Other minor niggles grate, such as the ref sometimes wearing an identical kit to one of the teams, Iniesta looking like he's been dead for six months and replays showing balls passing through body parts. Ultimately though, none of the complaints are game-breaking - they will, however, need ironing out in the next generation of Pro Evo (built on Kojima's Fox Engine) if, like R2/RT, it's going to offer that additional yard.