Pro Evolution 2014

September 26th, 2013


History has seen many great rivalries, Thomas Edison vs Nikola Tesla, Tupac vs Notorious B.I.G, Tom vs Jerry but they all pale in significance when compared to football rivalries and the digital representation of this in manifested in the battle for dominance between FIFA international soccer and the subject of this review: Pro Evolution soccer.

PES2014_S_o-PauloThe soccer (or football to you and me) battle has gone back and forth through the years and even across multiple consoles, it all began on the SNES when FIFA stood alone as the choice of the fans. It would be around two years before Pro Evolution entered the battle under the name International Superstar Soccer, but FIFA’s dominance continued until the Playstation until its uncomfortable transition to 3D saw International Superstar Soccer (now known as ISS Pro) seize the initiative in 1998 – bundling it with a demo of the unreleased Metal Gear Solid proved the winning combination for Konami. FIFA languished for years as a clear second to ISS Pro who had again changed it’s name to Pro Evolution Soccer, but as the new console era dawned, along with it came the rise of the western development studios among the top of them was EA. FIFA once again dominated as Pro Evo struggled to recapture the form it once had.

With the 2014 entry in the series Konami have made a conscious effort to improve Pro Evolution and once again try to reclaim the top spot; the biggest feather in their cap is to once again call on the talents of Hideo Kojima’s team, but this time in the form of a new engine. Pro Evolution 2014 is powered by Kojima’s brand new fancy FOX engine that will be used in the new Metal Gear Solid game, and no that doesn’t mean a cardboard box and a two hour cutscene about nuclear disarmament are required to score a goal, what it does mean is that with a brand new engine comes a new feel to the gameplay and improved visuals. Although some of the player likenesses are still a bit off, the animation is a lot more varied and fluid, and the gameplay has been improved measurably thanks to the new physics engine. Everything is taken into account from making the ball a separate 3D object to the players weight, height and speed, which changes how everything reacts from the bounce of the ball to hard hitting tackles.

Konami have made great strides in recreating the real match “feel” thanks to the improved AI and various other factors, the Heart system really helps; the stadiums coming alive if your performance is good cheering you on and giving your player a lift. Likewise if you start to play poorly the fans will left you know about it and player performance drops down as they lose heart.

Konami stated prior to launch that they would focus on this years entry before going next gen to ensure the best possible experience and it seems to have paid off for them. There’s  a wealth of modes from the impressively comprehensive and 44102-pes2challenging training mode to the usual suite of exhibition, championships and, of course, master league.
FIFA may have the presentation rapped up with the visual edge and of course the official license, but Pro Evolution Soccer has nailed it with the gameplay meaning this is one battle that will not end soon and with the next gen looming it’s game on all over again for football fans

Words > Jason Potter

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