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Pro Evolution Soccer 2014 Review

Has FOX helped make PES a must have once more?

Pro Evolution Soccer 2014 is Konami’s attempt at a major overhaul for the the PES franchise, with the FOX Engine taking a central stand in proceedings. There are also additions in terms of competitions with the Asian Champions League and the Europa League is now a standalone competition. The question is whether PES 2014 improves upon its predecessor, or if it is a runner-up this time round.

PES 2014 is a technically sound game, with the majority of the on the pitch gameplay being very well implemented. The physicality of the players feels solid, especially when they jostle for the ball, mainly thanks to the Motion Animation Stability System, or the MASS effect as I like to call it. This system takes into account a player’s movement, size and strength when fighting for the ball, but it’s done in a way that doesn’t mean the big players will always win out.

Seeing Walcott enter a situation where he is being fought for the ball by Vidić makes you think he’ll lose the ball, but with a quick flick of the right analog stick to push back or wrong foot from Vidić sees Walcott being able to run into free space. It never feels like you lose the ball unfairly in these situations, with mistakes being punished justly.

This MASS effect works in conjunction with TrueBall physics, so the ball will react correctly to player touches. Fail to bring it under control and the ball will bounce away from you but press a trigger and the player will be able to chest down or trap the ball to bring it under their control. Of course, this all depends on how closely guarded the receiving player is and if the defender can put a player off. This doesn’t just mean putting a player off physically but mentally too.

pes

This mental motivation system is called Heart and it can affect a player’s performance during a match. Playing away games, mislaying passes and shots can have a negative affect on a player, but the team can work their way back into a game. The Heart system doesn’t make its presence known right away however, instead requiring some exposure. For me the Heart system made itself known during my UEFA Champions League as North London – full licensing for teams is still not present, though a lot of player licensing is.

The Champions League run had seen my team qualify top of the group table, holding off both Real Madrid and Bayer Leverkusen. I met Porto in the 2nd round and over the two legs managed to beat them too. It’s in the quarter final where my player’s started to falter, drawn against Barcelona. The first leg at home I lost 3-1. In the 2nd leg both I and the players felt worse. Passing was off, mistakes were made in defence and within 5 minutes Barcelona were 1-0 up (4-1 on aggregate). The team managed to rebuff attempted forays by Barca, and then in the 70th minute something changed.

Podolski managed to get the ball and charge down the wing, while in the middle Walcott was looking for space. A through ball to him and Walcott was away, but Puyol was right on him. Walcott shot but Valdes parried it. However, Giroud had followed Walcott into the box and managed to tap in the loose ball. Something changed when that went in, and when the full time whistle blew the score was 3-1 to North London. Extra time and the game finished 6-6 on aggregate, with North London going through on away goals. Heart made its presence known then, and its in these moments where you don’t know how the match will play out where PES 2014 shines.

pes1

Online-wise, the game is a simple affair. There aren’t the in-depth modes like FIFA’s Ultimate team but as a pure gaming experience it works for the most part. You can have general ranked matches, and Master League Online also makes a return. Although the game may falter when connecting at times, when it does it flows very well. The only issues with the online was when I tried to cancel matchmaking, where instead of jumping back to the main menu it took an age to disconnect, so much time in fact that I thought my PS3 had frozen even though it hadn’t. Also, when downloading updates the P2P download was very slow, though HTTP download works well.

The game does have faults, with frame rate issues being a problem especially in replays and celebrations; this is very noticeable and jarring when compared to the smooth running of the main gameplay. The commentary is still terrible, which at times ruins the sporting atmosphere. With the likes of UFC and NBA 2K titles proving that commentary can be done well there’s really no excuse for lacklustre effort in that area anymore. There also seems to be a bit of a slowdown when attacking – the game stutters in some instances when shots are being taken as if it’s trying to catch up. It didn’t happen to me often, but it was certainly off-putting when it did.

What’s Good:

  • Motion Animation Stability System is very noticeable and makes contact between players feel solid.
  • TrueBall movement makes the ball react correctly in situations.
  • The player AI is good, and reacts generally well.
  • Good visuals.

What’s Bad:

  • Commentary is awful, in some cases remaining silent during major parts of matches.
  • Framerate issues in celebrations and replays.
  • Game sometimes stutters before taking a shot.

PES 2014 is a good football game, with very little to criticise on the pitch once you get the hang of it. The MASS and TrueBall elements make the on-pitch gameplay feel authentic, while Heart makes games much more tense and interesting. It’s the things off the pitch that let down the game, as the commentary needs work, and the framerate issues need to be resolved. The squads aren’t quite up to date, with Özil, for example, remaining at Real Madrid, so some updates are required. So, while PES 2014 isn’t a FIFA killer, it is fun.

Score: 8/10

13 Comments
  1. tactical20
    Member
    Since: May 2010

    Is this PS3 only?

    Comment posted on 25/09/2013 at 15:20.
    • tactical20
      Member
      Since: May 2010

      By which I mean, current gen!

      Comment posted on 25/09/2013 at 15:21.
      • KeRaSh
        Member
        Since: Nov 2009

        If I recall correctly, yes. There was something about making sure that they are ready for next gen before they release the game. I’m guessing there was a major cock up with their first PS3 / 360 PES cross gen release.

        Comment posted on 25/09/2013 at 15:32.
      • Wardy-77-
        Member
        Since: Mar 2013

        I think KeRaSh is right,I think I remember seeing on TSA that there is no next gen version planned for the first year.

        Comment posted on 25/09/2013 at 16:09.
  2. Wardy-77-
    Member
    Since: Mar 2013

    The frame rate in the team line up is also horrible,as it goes along the players it judders like mad kinda makes me feel ill,also I started Master League set up my team how I wanted it,and ever match I play it gets changed and I have to load up my team settings,i like a lot of the animations quite realistic but I feel a lot more in control of my player and everything with the Fifa games.

    Comment posted on 25/09/2013 at 16:06.
  3. Amphlett
    Member
    Since: Jul 2009

    I remember way back when I bought the first iteration of PES for the PS3 and was horrified by the stuttering frames, especially in the replays. The fact that this game still suffers with the same issues, either through the same bad code or new engine, is more than a little shocking.
    I know this game won’t be out for PS4/xbox one as Konami aren’t ready to support those platforms. Sounds like they’re still struggling with current gen.

    Comment posted on 25/09/2013 at 16:09.
    • Wardy-77-
      Member
      Since: Mar 2013

      Yeah I think they need to get the guys who made ISS for PS1 back as that was the last time PES ran right. :D

      Comment posted on 25/09/2013 at 16:15.
      • Amphlett
        Member
        Since: Jul 2009

        Ooh, how about the ISS devs working with the devs from Sensible Soccer (original version)?

        Comment posted on 25/09/2013 at 19:29.
  4. leeroye
    Member
    Since: May 2012

    Will they ever do anything about the commentary in this game, i hear phrases in the demo that have been in the game as long as i can remember.

    Comment posted on 25/09/2013 at 20:12.
  5. BrendanCalls
    Post Hoc, Ergo Propter Hoc - YOHIMBÉ!!!
    Since: Forever

    PES isnt going to have to do something unbelievably special to regain its crown as the king of football games. It was the only football game worth playing on PS2, its basically opposite on PS3/XBox.

    Comment posted on 25/09/2013 at 20:49.
    • Airiaen
      Member
      Since: Aug 2009

      This years release is very strong but just a few technical hiccups keep it back, usually I’d been playing Fifa but the latest games haven’t been all that impressive or even worst buggy.

      Comment posted on 26/09/2013 at 02:09.
  6. psychobudgie
    Member
    Since: Nov 2009

    Given some time it gets you hooked. Still no better feeling in footy games than smacking in a 30 yarder in PES. Oh and the new heading mechanics and animations wee wee all over Fifa.

    Comment posted on 25/09/2013 at 22:15.
  7. Airiaen
    Member
    Since: Aug 2009

    Gd review. I’ve been playing Pes 14 for a while its a nice game. Feels better than Fifa and a big improvement from the previous iteration. Though PES has always had the better feels of winning or scoring goals. Animation is also very good, some nice moves now and tackling movement is cool.

    I’ve never had framerate drops during celebrations or replays. Yay, but its disappointing and hardly surprising that the PS3 struggles in that so I’m glad that wasn’t the version I bought. They do need to patch performance for the menus, it can be quite slow whenever you’re at the formation screen.

    Anyways probably means I’d be buying Fifa 14 later in June again but at least the menus are finally different and responsive.

    Comment posted on 26/09/2013 at 02:04.

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