Ah, Pro Evolution Soccer 2014…some like to think of it as the only viable alternative to the dominating grip that EA and their FIFA series have solidly maintained. However, the truth is that there’s much more here than meets the eye. All in all, PES 2014 is solid offering which clearly shows that developer / distributor combo PES Productions and Konami can create a decent title that’s forward-thinking, yet still remains true to the roots of the sport. While some might be inclined to think that PES 2014 is a bit lacking, perhaps not a clear upgrade from 13, make no mistake – this game is still plenty of fun to dive into.
Part of the major focus of PES 2014 was on ball physics or M.A.S.S. (Motion Animation Stability System). In short, the work they’re done has helped to create a more realistic true to form rendering of specific elements like the way players contact each other or tackle. There’s also TrueBall Tech, which really helps to create a much more realistic feel for the entire game with regards to player movements. While it’s not completely perfect, it’s definitely an improvement over previous core elements of the PES formula. The truth is, PES 2014 is a bit of a mish-mash of realism and more accessible arcade-like features, which actually works rather well when you actually let yourself enjoy it.
Most noticeably, this new installment for the franchise features an entirely new engine. Yes, the Fox engine greatly enhances all visual aspects of the game from that of its predecessor and was designed by none other than Kojima Productions (of Metal Gear Solid fame). The action looks splendid in this offering whether we’re talking about simply moving down the field or analyzing facial animations. Everything has been either re-skinned or rebuilt in fact, with noticeable upgrades in the department of stadiums and lighting. Moreover, when you look at a player, you really get the sense that you’re staring at a familiar face and not just a haphazardly assembled bank of generic character models. Of course that doesn’t mean that everything’s perfect either, there are still some frame rate issues to contend with. This is especially true for moments where the action grows quite intense, with stutters appearing which sort of disrupt the continuity of play just enough to annoy you, but not enough to break the game. They really did a nice job with this release; it’s clearly a cut above the expectations of many in terms of its visuals.
Of course the heart and soul of any great sports game is its gameplay, which needs to offer detail-oriented control as well as be able to offer players accessibility. Luckily, PES 2014 achieves this goal, with particular focus on passing (as with previous titles). A lot of gamers might find themselves becoming frustrated by the difficulty of scoring in this game, but it is all part of its charm. This is one of the reasons why actually placing a shot feels so good, and when the crowd goes wild, well…that only serves to add further drama to the equation. As far as innovations go, combination play has been added which allows you to allocate precise plays to key areas of your pitch, so it’s possible to do more basic strategizing “on the fly”.
Anyone who enjoyed Pro Evolution Soccer 2013 will absolutely love this game. Sure, it’s perhaps not as polished as its FIFA counterpart, but this is by no means a slouch title, it’s quite a lot of fun and certainly capable of drawing the interest of serious football fans. Definitely check it out.