Right About Now
Latest editions of PES weren’t up to its name. They weren’t Pro, Evolutioned or well, Soccer.
PES was always more arcade than simulator, but last three installments of Konami’s powerhouse were a disaster of sorts. A number of random events made those games way below the standard Konami had put it when PES was a serious contender (and even above) of EA’s FIFA. They weren’t “Pro” at all. If anything, PES hadn’t evolved but went backwards. Latest PES looked from previous gen. A total shame for a saga that had PES 6 between its ranks. Football fans around the world told themselves –giggling- ‘What could you expect from a game that calls ‘football’ by his American name’. And they weren’t so far from the truth. PES, from their origins as Winning Eleven (or International Superstar Soccer) was always a game to have lots of fun, but never to be fully immersed by the experience. It all changed when Konami steer the wheel to a more FIFA approach.
We are glad to say that after the lasts pieces of wrecks, Konami made a Homer and PES 2016 is actually pretty good.
GAME: Pro Evolution 16
I remember being a 12-year old and turning on my Sega Genesis. I had a lot of cartridges bought along the years, but two of the most appreciated were International Superstar Soccer Deluxe and FIFA 96 (the other one was ‘Heavyweight Champions of the World’, an Evander Holyfield rip-off that was totally better and you fought against Mike DIXON on the last fight). When I wanted to make impossible shots and played against friends, I loaded the International Superstar Soccer Deluxe. When I wanted to play a solo league, a tournament or whatever, I loaded the FIFA 96. This dynamic hasn’t changed at all twenty years later. It’s still like this. PES keeps losing this fight because its one they shouldn’t have fought. FIFA has a huge budget from EA and they use it in order to improve realism in every new installment. You can hit a cameraman in FIFA 16. PES has Ray Jay Johnson. Oy.
That’s why I really loved the effort Konami put to make this PES 16 a game that takes last editions in a white van to some farm in the country.
Of the Present
Let’s see. New stadiums. New licenses. New and improved mechanics that, while pointing to simulation, don’t reduce the fun. It’s more agile than ever. The controls are responsive and adjusted and overall, the game in-play it’s more fluid. Konami failed a lot on trying to make PES an excellent game beyond PS2. They were barely good until FOX Engine. In the meantime, FIFA devoured all PES fans out there, not only with cosmetical issues like licences, stadiums, and game modes, but with everything else: visuals, sound, soundtrack, gameplay. This new PES 16 have improved so much in everything that people now is seeing that FIFA has been stalling.
Let’s start with visuals: FOX engine gave PES a new edge. While some textures are still lacking (the grass), the players design is superb. The movement of the players, their shirts and their faces is splendid. That was a huge improvement that was seriously needed. The rendering of the skin and cloth while in movement it’s really impressive. Take note that I’m only talking of the famous players. Don’t expect that kind of detail on the right back of a small team of Chilean league. It won’t happen. But it won’t happen in FIFA neither. Twelve licensed stadiums with good amount of detail join ten of unlicenced ones.
Gameplay: The players AI has been significantly upgraded. The ones you control and the ones controlled by the computer. They act on their own following the tactics given and they even have gestures that go with their real life counterpart, like being too ofensive or too agressive. The controls, as said before, are responsive and fast to the touch. Some things have been tweaked, like the through ball (now it’s not instant goalie face to face). Others haven’t. Shooting from outside the box results in scoring 7 out of 10 times.
Sound: in this section, maybe while better, we can really say that tops FIFA’s. Commentaries by John Champion and Jim Beglin (and the addition of Peter Drury) are dull, boring and repetitive and sometimes even inconsistent (dude, that’s not what is happening on the field).
‘We Will Rock You’ of Queen makes a return to the soundtrack with the company of a lot of bands I never heard of, but I don’t play a football game for the music so, meh. Madeon, Joywave and others enrich the 13-tracks soundtrack.
As for the game modes, everything is back, but there’s a special focus on the myClub mode (that also happens in Ultimate Team of FIFA) and certain upgrading on the collection of XP points. To sum up, the general feeling is that Konami (and EA) are focusing on their respective online modes because there’s a lot of money to be made via microtransactions.
If you are a long time PES player and you suffer last years editions, cheers. PES is back. They’ll never be at the same level of simulation than EA’s FIFA, they shouldn’t try either. PES was always about the in-game experience. The players inside the field. And this new installment of PES is top-notch. Some will even say that is better than FIFA. Maybe. And that’s saying a lot.