Pro Evolution Soccer 2017 Review

There was a time when Pro Evolution Soccer was my go-to football game, spanning the early to late 2000s from school through to university. There was no doubt that Konami ruled the genre through the series, especially during the PS2 era, but their crown slipped on the last generation and, just like that, PES was dethroned. Ever since then Konami has been trying to pry that crown back from EA, and last year’s PES 16 was a valiant effort. The question is whether PES 17 carries on its predecessor’s path.

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The most important side to any football game is the way it controls and PES 17 is wonderfully easy to pick up and play, with fluid movements that react well to your inputs. There’s a nice variation where faster players can cut in quickly, trying to pass big, wall-like defenders that can be tough to beat head on. Team and player movement’s do obviously depend on the style and tactics adopted, with each squad having their own pros and cons.

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You’ll have to adapt your play to counter each team you play against, as a blanket approach won’t work. Some teams will employ a high defensive line which is easier to exploit with through balls, while deeper set defences will try to crowd a player with the ball, stifling them and making it really tough to get into the box and score.

The latest ball physics generally feel nice and weighty, with power required to really get the ball moving, but there are times when it can feel a bit floaty. This is especially true when crossing the ball, helping to make crossing into the box and heading an easy tactic to fall back on. It feels like headers are too easy to score with in PES 17, as all keepers seem to have trouble reading and reacting to them properly.

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Scoring is quite easy to achieve on Regular difficulty, so if you have any real experience with football titles, Professional difficulty should be the setting you choose for a fair challenge. No two goals are quite the same in PES 17, where you can get an excellent strike from 25 yards or a scrappy tap in after the ball bounces off a player on the ground who tripped over the goalkeeper. When defending against an attack, you can take more risks as the referees seem to be quite lenient over what’s a foul and what isn’t. I’ve only witnessed yellow cards being issued, despite seeing and doing some tackles that would get a player sent off in reality.

All the various modes in PES 17 will be familiar to those who have played the series before. There’s the tournaments of the UEFA Champions League, AFC Champions League, and the Europa League. There’s also the standard season mode in Master League and the Become A Legend mode in which you try to rise through the ranks as a player. Personally, my preference was for the Become A Legend mode when it comes to the single player modes.

Master League allows you to create your manager and then pick a club, tasked with making the club successful through playing in a league and trying to acquire players. The stakes feel a little higher in Become A Legend, because as a young player you are competing for a place in the team and you need to earn the manager’s trust. Play well and you’ll feature in more matches, but don’t put in the effort and your career and development could stagnate. In this mode you can choose a player or create your own and decide which league to play in. From here you are signed to a team where, to really make an impression, you’ll need to learn to dominate your position and contribute to the overall team effort.

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There are the returning online modes too, with MyClub being PES’ answer to FIFA’s Ultimate Team. MyClub is similar in that you’ll need to put together a team and rise through the divisions to get rewards. There are fundamental differences though, especially when it comes to signing players. You can’t just simply go to auction and search for the player you want and bid on them, you have to bid on scouts and use them to find players for you instead. The players they find depends on their star rating and their speciality. You may have a scout that is focused on particular position or league and can use up to three at once to narrow down the list of players, and then try to sign their recommendations.

The other approach to finding players is essentially a lottery. Using GP or MyClub Coins you can select a Top Agent who is tied to specific positions, and let the wheel spin. You have no control over which player you’ll get and they may not necessarily fill the role you’re looking for. I’ve needed a new right back for a while now, but so far I’ve only got centre backs and left backs through the Top Agent lottery. While MyClub is a valiant effort, it isn’t in the same league as FIFA’s Ultimate Team, especially because of how signing players is done.

Online the connections with other players are generally decent, but there have been matches where the lag has been really bad, making the game look like a bunch of freeze frames. Thankfully I’ve not come across any quitters, and this may be down to matching with players of similar courtesy ratings. Local multiplayer is incredibly fun though, because matches can be so unpredictable.

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The game looks great on PlayStation 4. The more well known and popular players look exactly like their real life counterparts, where Konami have managed to obtain licenses, such as with the extensive partnership with Barcelona FC. The pitches are well detailed with some excellent lighting making them pretty bright. Commentary does still need some work when compared to match other sports games, but there is a lot of passion when the moment calls for it.

What’s Good:

  • Players and teams have their own styles of play
  • Really responsive controls
  • Looks great
  • Become A Legend is a good career mode

What’s Bad:

  • MyClub needs more refinement to compete
  • Some harsh lag online
  • Headers are too easy to score or concede with

PES 17 is another example of Konami’s football series regaining some of the charm and style that made the series so great in the past. The game controls well, it looks good and it’s a lot of fun to play. It’s a big step forward on the path to reclaiming its crown, but it isn’t quite FIFA’s empire just yet. With a few improvements to the likes of MyClub and some parts of the game, the series could be there soon.

Score: 8/10

Version tested: PS4

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Written by
From the heady days of the Mega Drive up until the modern day gaming has been my main hobby. I'll give almost any game a go.

11 Comments

  1. I’m a PES man at heart and thought it was going to be another year of PES for me. I enjoyed the PES17 demo, although it didn’t feel all that different apart from improvements with decisions from referees and the keepers weren’t quite as bad.

    Sorry to say that I’ll be going with FIFA this year though. EA have made significant changes and a lot of improvements, and the demo is great fun unlike the chore that was FIFA16.

    Not surprised to read that the online is once again a lag fest with PES too. Same thing every year. I think PES6 was the last time I remember the online working half decent.

    Another thing I wondered about that isn’t mentioned in the review was about the audio. Has the commentary been vastly improved as Konami stated, or is it still hugely exaggerated and PS2 levels of repetitiveness? It almost seems tactical that they leave it out of the demo’s every year, so that people can’t find out how poor it is until buying :D

    • I’ve read elsewhere that the audio is the usual cliched nonsense. You just can’t beat a ding dong battle!

      Importing option files is back however. Which going by your name and pic, I’m guessing is a good thing. Pro2016 not having Rangers in it was understandable but disappointing. 2017 doesn’t have either of the old firm in it so option files are the way to go.

    • The FIFA 17 demo is just feels the same as FIFA 16 demo lol not much has changed but the engine, even with the engine, it’s still a reskinned FIFA from 2015.

    • It’s night and day compared to last years release. Add to that the return of option files support, improved visuals, improved refs, keepers, general play and well that and pretty much every aspect has been spit and polished, what’s not to love?

      Totally disagree with you, bought it day 1 and haven’t put it down. FIFA 17 plays like FIFA 16 and other than the online servers is completely underwhelming.

      • Improved visuals? PES still looks dated like something from 2009 to me, but its something I’ve not bothered too much with, as the gameplay is what counts. Option files were in 2016 too, and I mentioned the improved refs and keepers.

        IMO FIFA17 feels considerably different to 16 though. I’ve played well over 50 matches on both demos, and with owning FIFA16 and not enjoying it at all, there’d have to be significant changes in terms of gameplay for me to even consider moving to the darkside.

        Visually FIFA has always had the edge, as with presentation in general, audio commentary, and a vastly superior online, but I’m purely talking gameplay here, and that was where PES had the edge. I feel FIFA has come on leaps and bounds this year though, whereas PES feels just like 2016 with a few fixes and the ability to take your shirt off :D

        With FIFA I find the AI players now make far more intelligent runs, giving you options in attack, the passing is so much sharper, and the whole game just seems flows so much better overall.

        Threaded through balls, fake throws improved shielding, collisions look better and all the small touches that add to the experience. Some of the smallest changes can certainly have a huge effect on how football games play.

        It’s gone from being a chore to play more than two matches, to something I actually really enjoy and get excitement out of.

        Just my two cents and an honest opinion. I’ll still feel a bit dirty buying it, but it’s the better of the two games for me based on the demos.

      • Option files were, yes. But you were not able to import someone elses files. You could only edit your own. Not sure about you but I could not be bothered editing full teams in.

      • RFC- clearly you like FIFA which is fine but to say Pro looks dated like something out of 09, maybe a visit to spec savers is required.

        FIFA 17 demo plays exactly like FIFA 16 demo, the only minor very very small change was the fake throwing apart from that, the AI still clueless, goalkeeper is worse than mignolet, all I have to do in FIFA is hold L2 & make it to the other side & score cause once you block the AI from tackling you, the AI is stupid & clueless.

        But hey that’s my two cents & honest opinion. Licenses sell FIFA but overall no improvement get done but hey it’s a decent arcade game. I love pro clubs

      • @kjkg Full option file support is back. First option files had already appeared hours into the release.

      • Psycho, yeh mate, that’s what I was saying. Just not very clearly evidently! It’s a welcome addition back.

  2. I’ve got to say after a weekend of playing the game nonstop a fair bit online and watching people stream online games I haven’t witnessed any lag. I’m loving the game and option files are really easy to do once you know-how. My only 2 gripes is having to do become a legend mode to platinum the game and commentary is still repetitive.

  3. This is actually one of the lowest scoring reviews for PES 17 online, and it’s an 8/10 (the lowest on Metacritic is 75/100).

    I think that should say it all.

    Everyone who picks up this game can see what a huge leap forward it is for football games. Thank God Pro Evo is back on form at long last, especially after recent FIFA disappointments (and easily the most underwhelming FIFA demo for years). It was particularly needed after EA did nothing to address last year’s FUT ratings and chemistry scandal.

    Playing FIFA has felt like playing a game for years. PES just used to feel like playing a slower game. But this year, it finally feels like football again, in a way it hasn’t since the PS2 era. A joy to play. I love it to bits and can’t stop playing.

    For sure, modes like MyClub are more frustrating to use than FUT thanks to the lottery of signing players (so many full backs, but I never get a CB). But EA were literally caught lying to us last year (IFs and other special cards were actually worse than normal versions of cards despite their on card stats and transfer market value) by the community and promised to reveal how chemistry works in response (they still haven’t). I’d rather play a mode with a lottery but consistent gameplay than go back to that mess again.

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