Pro Evolution Soccer 2016 Review
Sony PlayStation 4Also available on Microsoft Xbox One
It’s impossible to talk about Konami’s Pro Evolution Soccer 2016 without first addressing the elephant in the room that is the FIFA series. For a long time now, there have been two great football franchises that have gone head to head almost every year. FIFA, for the most part, has dominated the competition, but this season has seen a dramatic reversal in fortunes. This is as a result of Konami’s willingness to keep altering its formula, whilst FIFA continues to stagnate.
There are plenty of areas that have improved in this year’s edition of PES. One of the biggest success stories is the increased individuality of the players, reflected in how they pass and receive the ball. In previous games there was very little distinction between the players beyond speed, shot accuracy, and flair. This time around, player individuality is expanded upon and can be seen demonstrated by how they move with the ball, as well as how they handle their first few touches. A Championship player, for example, won’t be as adept or as impressive at knocking the ball down as Lionel Messi or Neymar Jr. They’re also less likely to perform a trick when coming into possession of the ball. This adds a heightened sense of realism to proceedings that becomes even clearer as you spend more time with the game.
There’s also been a drastic leap in relation to the graphical performance in PES 2016. This year’s offering features significantly improved character models, which are more faithful to their real life counterparts. Lighting effects are also more noticeable this time around, as well as moisture on the player’s faces, giving the game some welcome polish. This contributes an added layer of authenticity to the action on the field.
Another newfound improvement present is the physicality of the game. Older PES entries rarely focused on replicating midfield battles or players jostling for the ball, allowing you to merely walk through the defense. This has changed in the new release, forcing you to pass more often to create space on and off the ball. The effect this has is that it makes creating chances a much more satisfying experience, whilst also adding fluidity to the play.
There are also a bunch of other smaller improvements to the game that should be touched upon. These include the decision to incorporate a dynamic weather system into matches and the ability to choose your method of celebration. Both are only slight changes to the formula, but they improve the experience nonetheless by packing in a lot of variation.
There have also been significant adjustments made to the legendary Master League mode with it undergoing a new makeover, making it much friendlier and more visually compelling. This allows you to get an even greater enjoyment out of carrying your team through a full football season, because it reduces the amount of time spent getting frustrated with the menus. This easy accessibility applies elsewhere too. Regardless of whether you’re a veteran of sporting titles or a relative newbie, you can pick up and play PES 2016 and get some amusement out of it.
Other modes available in the game include licensed competitions, such as the UEFA Champions League and the UEFA Europa League, and an excellent online setting. If you’re curious whether you have what it takes to lead your club to victory these will make the answer abundantly clear. Furthermore, the existence of online play means you’ll never get tired of competing or be short on opposition.
Sadly, there are some areas where the new release manages to fall flat. This is in regards to its commentary and lack of licensing. As always, the commentary in the game gets repetitive fairly quickly. This isn’t so much a problem when playing with friends or online, but it does get annoying when you start spending time with the more lengthy campaigns.
Licensing is another area of concern. The game only has the license for a handful of big name teams, including Manchester United and Bayern Munich, and a few international competitions. Others teams are therefore known by stand-in titles, like Merseyside Blue for Everton or London FC for Chelsea. This is upsetting as you have to work to rename the teams yourself, a problem you simply don’t have playing FIFA. It’s one of the few areas where the latter game still has a lead over its rival.
Nevertheless, Pro Evolution Soccer 2016 is still the superior football title released this season. It is a fantastic sports game that every avid football enthusiast should own, packing a nice variety of modes, satisfying gameplay, and tons of potential for customization. Whether you’re looking for a humorous game to play with friends or something to chip away at in your own time, you can’t go wrong with PES 2016. In the future it’ll be interesting to see whether Konami can keep this lead up.