Pro Evolution Soccer 2014 (Available on PC, PlayStation 3, and Xbox 360)
ESRB Rating: E
Number of Players: 1 to 4
Developer: PES Productions
Release Date: September 24th, 2013
Although I know next to nothing of the sport, I’ve enjoyed soccer games tremendously over the years. The last I played was FIFA 11, a game which was simply amazing. My experience with PES begins and ends with PES ’11 and PES ’12 on the Nintendo 3DS. I found those titles to be solid offerings, especially considering the technical limitations of the handheld. If you’re interested, you can read my PES ’12 review right here. Sadly, Pro Evolution Soccer 2014 for the PlayStation 3 is nothing like that. Konami opted to build the game around a brand new engine, and while the game has never looked better, the gameplay took a major hit.
The tutorial mode teaches you everything you need to know in order to enjoy PES 2014. I always wanted something like this because soccer games require a lot of of strategy. There are so many different options and moves you can execute that you wouldn’t know about unless you’re an expert of the genre. The tutorial starts you off with simple enough commands like passing, but slowly eases you into far more advanced techniques like dribbling. The tutorial not only teaches noobs like me more about the game mechanics, but soccer as a whole.
+ The new emotion system puts you right into the game. Players have never felt so alive, and depending on what happens in the game they’ll display anger, joy and everything in between.
+ Online matches are quick and lag-free. I was actually able to win my first bout thanks to the superb matchmaking system. This is something that just wasn’t possible before as I would always be paired with pros.
+ Visually exciting. Matches can be thrilling to watch and take part in thanks to all the little subtle improvements. From the highly detailed stadiums to the player animations and intricate detail in the turf, it’s simply looks brilliant. Fans in the stadium also show great emotion whenever you perform a smart move, or score a tie-breaking goal close to the end of a game. The audio is also impressive, although the commentators could have used more dialogue.
+ Love the defensive system. You can pressure the ball carrier, execute different tackles, or simply force the player to move to a desired location. It’s easy enough for newcomers to use, and a real asset veterans will want to master.
– Broken gameplay. Passes are often imprecise, and throws typically go out-of-bounds simply because the game opted to pass the ball to an invisible player. Having control of the ball is the single most important factor in soccer, and sadly you rarely feel as though you have control.
– The AI is terrible. It seems like your teammates feet are planted in cement. They don’t move nearly as often as they should, which makes it hard to set plays. Passing the ball to an open space where a player will be is called a through pass. Using this is the most frequent way of creating a scoring opportunity. Your colleagues want you to do all the work, but eventually you need to setup a play. As soon as the ball leaves your feet for another player, that’s when the game becomes more about luck than anything else.
– Physics that don’t always make sense. You might be way ahead of your opponent, but the game automatically creates a battle situation. It’s like your both magnets attracted to each other. This was likely done to highlight the defensive system, but there’s a limit to negating offensive situations. Another issue is that your team just isn’t aggressive enough during corners. During all my time with PES ’14, I never once scored on a header from a corner kick as the opposition always got to the ball ahead of me. Crosses are easier to execute to the game’s credit.
– Dribbling works fine on paper but is next to impossible to execute in a competitive game as you’re stripped of the ball almost immediately. Using both sticks in unison requires precise movement that usually ends up with a loss of possession.
– Low amount of game modes. You have your standard exhibition match, a bare-bones career mode and a few tournaments based on different leagues. The online mode is great, but it would have been nice to have a little more variety. There’s also a lack of teams, you won’t find the national Canada team here for example.
Pro Evolution Soccer 2014 does a few things right and I’m hopeful they build on that for the next iteration. As it stands right now, for the same price you should pick up FIFA ’14. It’s hard to suggest PES ’14 for anything else than a second football game to those who’ve already bought the latest FIFA and simply want to experience something different. I’m hoping to score a portable copy soon and see how that holds up to the previous years. In the meantime, PES ’14 should be reserved for the most hardcore fans only.
Final Score: 6.0/10