SHORT REVIEW: PS4 VERSION
He shoots! He pushes a button to simulate the feeling of scoring!
Earlier in the year I wrote a lengthy monotone retrospective on PES 2016 complete with thick eyebrows, slippers and a dour disposition. You could probably guess from the length and girth of the eyebrows, yes… I rather liked it.
Last year I considered PES 2016 the new benchmark in football based gameplay, and that warm feeling remains. In fact, a lot of what I previously mused still applies.
Oh no, ‘ere we go. Are you ready for it?
“It’s like last years, but a little better, kinda… cough.”
Let’s not waste any time and jump to the most important part of any football game. No, not who’s on the cover, but the action on the well-tended virtual pitch. Hey, I’m a huge fan of muddy shitty pitches, let’s have more of those! Wait, we didn’t jump in and we’re wasting time now. I’ve totally bullsed up this intro.
As you correctly guessed, this years edition is the simple process of refinements and tweaks. You know the ol’ saying, “if it’s not broke, then you don’t do the fixings it up or somethin’, I dunno”.
The animations fluid and snappy, with improvements to the long ball game. The controls are still contextual and crisp. Goalkeepers are much improved, capable of pulling off some remarkable saves, especially from the Manuel Neuer’s. Meaner defences, players capable of finding space. You’ll see a few more clumsy tackles, which is fun. The whole game is a lil’ smarter and tighter. Player roles are just as important as last years, as are tactics and team chemistry. Scoring’s more of a challenge as you’ll really need to break teams down, or bomb up the pitch as fast as possible. Whether you score that beautiful dipping volley or scrappy corner, it always feels like a real achievement.
Like every annual game series, being exploited by new tricks and having your own exploits ruined is refreshing. I was shocked to come across an AI West Ham that pinged the ball at stop speed to a Payet lingering on the wing, who was continually finding space, causing untold troubles. I had to counter this by dropping deeper and man-marking him out the game. Like last years edition, PES 2017 is a game of player skill and using your team’s talents to their full potential. Just like last years edition. You can’t rely on Messi, Ronaldo or Rickie Lambert to do all your dirty work for you.
Attacking wing-backs have become incredibly important to the game of football and our computerised entertainment fantasy boxes have done well to replicate this. Usually the midfield’s a boggy stagnant mess, to be wilfully ignored. With this years edition I’ve been pleased to find that I’ve been able to exploit the middle of the pitch once again. You’ll notice the difference between a play-making number 10 or powerful midfield runner, bursting late into the box.
You’ve been given the tools to set your team up how you want to play. Do you prefer the big guy up front, the counterattack, maybe the winger cutting inside, why not the wing-backs cutting inside, all are all viable tools.
Away from the actual game of football, the same standalone competitions remain. That ol’ champions League theme, the same cups you won’t play, one-off leagues which are redundant next to Master League, the online nonsense. Thankfully, the rosters are up to date this time round, which was nice. Last years was a disgrace.
Master League has been improved with some neat and essential touches. As manager you’ve been given real power to help shape an individual player, as you could train the lucky lad with your favoured skills. Like a pouting, striding Mourinho you can also boost a player by proclaiming him as your favourite and riding him around like a horse in the off-season. Best of all is the inclusion of a transfer deadline day, complete with nerve-racking timer. Each potential deal or renegotiation eats into your remaining hours, as you scramble to finalise your ‘Arry Redknapp bargains. Do you sell that surplus player eating into 3 hours, or renegotiate a lower fee for that new striker? This makes a huge difference as Master League finally entertains the idea of risk and reward, or basic concept of excitement outside the pitch.
I’ve left the best feature till last. Importing an entire league is easier then ever. Goodbye North London Kebab Shop FC. Now you can simply download and import entire leagues in one smooth simple update, provided you can acquire the correct download packs (details below). I shudder to think of the hours wasted inputting each individual team and logo, one after another, until my eyes started to bleed and the voices, the many voices began whispering Robbie Savage quotes…
Of course, for every good feature there are baffling decisions. Namely you can’t have it all, as there is a limit to the amount of pictures you can import. Bloody hell! I’ve a 2TB hard-drive here, let me choose what to waste it on! So after updating your major leagues of choice, you’re not left with much room to play with. You’ll have to read a few guides to swap teams around, an submit yourself to a lot of faffing around if you wish to fill that big German hole. So yes, whilst this is a welcome update, it is one with limitations. Again. Even with these problems, it is a huge upgrade to be to update the Premier League in a click of a button.
Top tip – You could remove all the stadium and manager pictures to import further team strips and logo’s.
This wouldn’t be a yearly update without the same annoyances every bloody year.
Like last years edition the main menu insists on connecting to the terrible servers. Stop wasting my fucking time connecting to a service I won’t use, I just want to start Master League! I’m also experiencing issues using my imported league in local exhibition matches, as the game resets to its default state. Is it me? Do I have to turn off the internet? I’ll have to work this issue out later (I’ll update this here). Whilst I’m having a good whinge, I’d like to see an easy to set up, local player tournament for a group of friends. Give us more customisable choice.
The menu screens need an overhaul. I’ve kept this separate so I can copy and paste it for next year.
The individual player rating are terrible. I know, I know, that’s not a big deal is it? It is, if you create and play as a single player in Become a Legend mode! If the game is incapable of judging your merits accordingly, then it cannot simulate your fake player career. Important stats such as, “chances created”, or “passes leading to goals” are missing. Being given an arbitrary 6 after the striker missed 2 incredible chances doesn’t inspire confidence in the whole endeavour. I could never quite get camera right for me, relying on the boring bog-standard side view to stay onside. Why cant we have a player view that zooms in and out? Even football games from the 90’s had that feature. Become a Legend is threadbare, with poor feedback and immersion. The whole thing comes across as an afterthought.
Top tip – left pad clicks moves the camera from your player to focusing on the ball.
I completely forgot to mention the commentary… I turn it off. Every year. It’s utter, utter shit and I’m genuinely worried at how long Jim Beglin’s been in captivity. Let him free; fly Beglin, fly. Oh, I muted the music this year too. I hope you’ve not thrown away your Hi-Fi systems and Wham tapes.
PES 2017 obviously spent a lot of money on acquiring the Barcelona license. So now the entire game feels a lifestyle choice for the fleeting “soccer” fan, as Barca colours are draped over the entire game; this is incredibly off-putting for us mere mortals.
Tweaks aside, its been the same showing from Master League this whole generation. I would love to see lower league action in Master League, then again, I’m not sure how maddening it would be for the developers to make up 40 new nonsense team names. Oh yes, the less said about the player re-generations, the better.
Online play is still somewhat shit. MyClub remains a poor mans version of that Fifa’s online thingy. Get you’re own voice dammit. I didn’t spend too much time with it, because fuck microtransactions and the random lottery of transfer packs. I did manage to take part in an online game with 6 individual players and it was a laggy shitshow.
Right now the biggest difference between PES and FIFA, comes down to the importance you place on online play and online player collecting. If it’s local play, or you know, the actual game of football you’re interested in, PES 2017 is the choice for you.
The game of football won’t he represented better anywhere else, but the same ol’ niggles and off pitch annoyances remain. How frustrating! All the hard works been done.
These problems could be resolved with a decent patch or two, but I fully expect them to remain for next years annual update.
Guide to custom edit mode
Go here… Have a read of the instructions. Don’t slouch, do your hair nice. Download things, put them in a folder called “WEPES” on a FAT32 memory stick. Import. No really, read or watch the instructions!
There are other sites and forums to check out too. GOOD RUCK KID!