It has come to that time of year once again where Konami and EA take to the field in search for football glory. I pretty much moved from FIFA to PES a few years ago and can count on one hand the amount of times I actually played FIFA in the last year or so. When it comes to PES however I have sunk many hours in to the games since back in 2015. So can PES this year continue to grab my attention and will I go search for glory in the Champions League?
The main attraction in all Pro Evolution Soccer games has and always will be Master League. Over the years this mode has seen subtle changes but this year there has seen more changes than usual. There is now pre-season tournaments to take part in as well as a couple of new stats screens. You now have a screen that hits you with player stats as well as the club owners confidence level in your role, and they will say what they expect of you with each game. For those wanting more of a challenge it seems Konami has listened with the new challenge option available. This option will make it that more difficult when dealing with players and transfers. In this mode if a player isn’t happy then they could very well just leave the club. There will be other obstacles thrown at you to overcome and you could even get fired as manager. It’s great to see Konami working to implement some new ideas which I will always welcome.
Over the last couple of years I have to say that Konami has really upped their football skills and have outshone EA on the park by a country mile. The gameplay just feels more like football and certainly brings the added excitement of spectacular shots from outside the box. The work you have to do on building up to a goal as well play safe all reflects what it is like in real life. I am happy to say that Konami have built upon this even more and the game certainly feels better than last year. When you lose a match it doesn’t feel like you have been cheated, it really feels your own fault. The game speed has seen a massive improvement and I am very happy with how it plays. From slowly building up an attack, creating spaces with your defence and midfield players, to hitting on the counter of a poor corner from the opposing team. It has all the fun and excitement of the real thing.
When you have the ball there is certainly a feeling of being in control thanks to a few new tweaks and features. The strategic dribbling allows pretty much players of all levels to wrong foot defenders with fake moves. Their is of course the various combination presses that need mastered to really shine on the pitch with rainbow flicks and body swerves etc. This will be needed to take on the best of the best the world over. I noticed straight away that ball shielding has really come on with it being much more realistic with you being able to shield the ball against multiple players. The A.I has been vastly improved on team mates and the opposing team. I found my players being backtracked having to play the ball back to defence etc. so they are much more aware than last year.
Set pieces, corner kicks and even goal kicks have also been completely revamped. They guideline has completely been removed to make way for a much greater skill and a more natural control. This is one thing I personally am having some issue with since the guideline with for me was a God send. I have though went through the training for set pieces and I do find that you have way more control and a better chance of at least hitting the target from thirty to forty yards out. I am still however trying to get use to goal kicks and corner kicks. When taking a corner you have eight options of different set pieces at you finger tips. Overall the new features and tweaks to the gameplay still makes PES the premier team on the park. The games A.I has seen improvements and I am finding it slightly more difficult than last year.
When you have won all there is to win in Master League you will want to jump in to the multiplayer side of things and this year has seen many improvements. We have seen the return of 2v2 and 3v3 matches but the biggest surprise quickly becoming a favourite of mine is the return of the random selection matches. Here you are presented with a completely random team as is your opponent but that’s not the end. You will get a couple of rounds of trading with each player selecting one player from the other team they want as well as selecting one player from your own team you want to keep. This mode is great for a laugh and it does put both players on quite an even playfield. One thing that needed addressed for multiplayer was the matchmaking, last year it did take a while at times to find an opponent especially on certain options. This year has seen a big improvement and the time waiting doesn’t feel as long. It may not be perfect but it is certainly no where near as bad as last year. You will also be able to take part in the PES League and you don’t even need to register.
While EA has their Ultimate Team mode for creating your ideal team, Konami has presented us with their own version called myClub over the last couple of years. I will hold my head up and say that for me personally I prefer this over Ultimate Team every time. Yes myClub relies on the use of micro-transactions, however I feel it’s not as pushy as Ultimate Team. You can spend real money to obtain specific players via the scout system. You can also play the tournaments that will give you special agents. Yes the scout system works on chance but this allows all player levels to compete. This year has seen large improvements in all areas really. For the first time PES League has been integrated in myClub so if you think your team is the best this is the place to see if they really are up to the challenge. There is also co-op and clan matches that you can arrange offering some fresh challenges. I feel there is slightly more stuff awarded on the daily login but A.I tournaments have the slightest feeling of scripted matches but only slight. But when the prize is a special agent that is to be expected.
When it comes to the graphics pretty much everything has had an overhaul although some more noticeable than others. The games menu system has seen subtle changes but nothing spectacular, it still feels familiar but looks more up-to-date. To be honest I was happy with the menu system over the last couple of years, at the end of the day it serves it’s purpose, to get you from A to B in the shortest route possible. The biggest overhaul of graphics comes in the form of player animations as well as the stadium environments. Player look that more lifelike than before with special attention given to the teams in which Konami has the licensing rights, this includes tattoos and skill moves etc.
When it comes to the audio department the menu soundtrack has been cut in numbers. I can however forgive Konami on this front as they managed to secure a Blondie track “long Time” from their new album and I am digging the Coldplay track as well. Every football game when it comes to commentary always suffers repetition, but it is an improvement over last year. The environmental sounds are spot on and you really do feel you are in a football game with fans reacting to the action on the pitch. There is something special about walking out of the tunnel at Anfield hearing the fans sing You will Never Walk Alone.
The Good Things
- Still the Premier team when it comes to gameplay on the pitch.
- Challenge Mode in Master League brings a fresh challenge.
- myClub now has PES League, co-op and clan matches.
And The Bad
- Small Soundtrack list.
- Still can’t get all the licensed teams in the Champions League, doesn’t bother me though.
- When it comes down to gameplay PES 2018 comes out on top every time and its the reason I have favoured this over FIFA for a few years now. Yes it may not have all the official licenses but I can look past that. Master League and Become a Legend just keeps me coming back for more. There is just something special about having Europe’s elite competition to aim for throughout a season. It’s just a shame that you can’t import option files on the Xbox One, hopefully Microsoft will allow it at some point. The overhaul and new features of the gameplay is instantly noticed and the new system for free kicks does feel good once you get use to it. myClub has also seen some vast improvements and now features PES League integration. FIFA may have the licences but PES 2018 has the gameplay.
Still the top team of choice for me.