Earlier this month Pro Evolution Soccer 2018 hit the high street, so we’ve taken it for a kick-about as West Glamorgan City, or better known to us as Swansea City.
Anyway who is familiar with playing football on any games console or PC, will be aware of the reputation enjoyed by Pro Evolution Soccer (PES), as THE most realistic simulation of the beautiful game that money can buy.
Many will argue that EA Sports FIFA is the better video game, but the truth of the matter is that both PES and FIFA are distinctly different and excel at what they do for their target markets.
However slick the appearance and club name licences are that EA Sports FIFA may boast, it is without doubt the easier game of the two to play, but perhaps crucially – for the purists at least – it isn’t as realistic as the offering from Konami’s Pro Evolution Soccer.
Our initially impressions of the latest version are that it is, at the very least, in keeping up appearances and building on the success of the 2017 version.
Some subtle adjustments have been made to the game, such as more reactive artificial intelligence (AI) for computer players, thus making every game against your opponent feel like a fresh challenge and improved player animations, making things look even more realistic.
The Real Touch system first seen in PES 2017, has been further improved and moves things even closer to the real-thing, as each player’s touch is taken into account, whether it be with their chest, thigh, shin and makes every mis-timed pass, deflection and bounce just like the real thing.
This is a hugely significant when you consider how static and predictable the players in most sports video games simulations are.
The realism provided by the system was evident when controlling our the Swans old school centre-back Mike Van der Hoorn, who was great at clattering the opposition centre-forward and getting the ball, but not so hot when it came to his passing, even allowing for us making the odd stray pass through poor control!
The realism of the gameplay was one of the biggest pluses of the game for us. In fact, the more we played the game, the more realistic and often unpredictable (in football terms) it all felt, both in terms of the gameplay as a whole but more importantly each players characteristics.
Which is very much in line with the “anything can happen” sentiment in the game of football.
Renato Sanches in midfield seemed to glide past lesser players, but was prone to losing the ball in the tackle, whereas Tammy Abraham was very quick around the field but lacked the fine ball control displayed by Jordan Ayew.
As fast as Martin Olsson is flying down the wing from full-back, shooting isn’t his strong point, as is shown when you let fly from just outside the box and the ball balloons into the crowd!
There is little doubt that PES takes into account actual player abilities/form and you really get a feel for who you’re controlling at any one time. It’s this attention to detail that creates an incredibly accurate feel to the players you control and matches overall.
The player stats are updated on a regular basis so that each player’s form is as you’d expect, so you can just imagine how frustrating it was to control Leroy Fer when we were reviewing the game!
These players stats or abilities as they are referred to, cover 6 different aspects of the game – passing, shooting, physicality, defensive, speed and dribbling. Each one of these attributes combine to make up a player’s overall rating.
In terms of the top-rated Swansea players in the game, that privilege falls upon Renato Sanches, Roque Mesa and Łukasz Fabiański, all of whom have an overall score of 80.
Although the likes of Federico Fernández, Ki Sung-Yeung and Wilfried Bony all come close to being up there with them, with a rating of 79.
It probably comes as no surprise that the Swans old guard of Leon, Wayne Routledge and Nathan Dyer are all rated at 74, but in fairness Leon does have a pass rating of 85 – the highest in the team!
Of course, on occasion, this reflection of a player’s ability can be frustrating, as sometimes a counter-attack would break down seemingly due to an under-hit pass to a team-mate less than a few yards away.
The reality is of course that 9 times out of 10 the passing player could make such a pass in his sleep!
Thankfully this sort of behaviour is the exception rather than the rule, as players of all abilities make simple mistakes, without it purely being down to a difference in the actual players ability in real-life e.g. Iniesta v Fer.
It seems crazy when you think about it as we are talking about a video game, but whilst playing as West Glamorgan City (i.e the Swans), there seemed to be a vulnerability to concede from set pieces, which suggests that the AI built into the game is aware of each teams strength/weakness, as we found when playing against other Premier League teams, such as Manchester Blue (Manchester City) and their prowess in front of goal!
Nothing is perfect however and as with any video game there are a few small annoyances with PES 2018.
Whilst the official club name licensing issue has been a long standing one, it remains annoying for many players of the game, even though it can be quite easily overcome with an option download file from one of the many PES fan websites.
Our biggest gripe however was around the visuals for some of the players during gameplay.
Not a showstopper in terms of gameplay we know, but a little irritating nevertheless. For example, Jordan Ayew is sporting Tammy Abraham’s early season bleached blonde look and we think the guy behind Lukasz in the pre-match tunnel cut scene is van der Hoorn?!
Of course in all seriousness, how much the players actually resemble themselves isn’t really that great a deal (well not to us it wasn’t), especially as Konami to their credit do periodically release updates to not only players form but their appearance also.
If such niggles are of little irritation to you, then you’ll enjoy the many other features of PES 2018, not just the single player mode, which is what this review has covered.
The game as a whole offers you a myriad of other modes of play, such as 2v2 and 3v3 co-op, online leagues, online co-op, random selection match and of course myClub – where as the name suggests you control a club of your choice and everything associated with it.
The bottom line is that PES continues to play a beautiful game of football, regardless of whether you choose to play together with friends or play on your own, and the little subtleties when controlling the players combine to give the gamers a real sense of realism.
To finish off our review, we thought that with the Swans visiting West Ham United this weekend, we’d play the game out on PES and here is how both teams lined up, in what turned out to be a comfortable 2 nil win for West Glamorgan City.
A similar result this weekend and all us Jacks will be happy!
This review and screenshots were done playing the Pro Evolution Soccer 2018 – Legendary Edition on PlayStation 4.