Konami have opened their doors to the PES community. Fan sites from all over Europe, including ourselves, got the chance to step inside Konami HQ and play the latest build of Pro Evolution Soccer 2014. For some, this wasn’t the first time they were able to get to grips with the game, with our own Asim Tanvir (@AsimTanvir) getting a hands on at E3. For others, like myself, we went in to this with a fresh opinion and open mind.
I want to start on what I felt was the best improvement, and a reason why 2013 just doesn’t cut it anymore. Pro Evolution Soccer 2014 captures the natural, free-flowing feel that a real football match provides. The brand new set of animations play a massive part in this. Gone are the days where a run and a pass were two separate entities, now the pass flows naturally off the run made by the player, just as a shot will, or a cross. For example, in a match against our own Suffwan, I went 1-0 up with a delightful, dinked chip. The chip was one of the best finishes I have seen in a PES title, as it looked as natural as a real life game, think a Messi style finish. When I went back to PES2013, I could see a massive difference, I could really tell that each action you chose was separate from the last one. Another thing that was extremely impressive were the animations when receiving and taking the ball under control. You can’t take the ball under instant control everytime, it can happen but not on every occasion, sometimes players needed to take a few touches, even with their knee. Along with that, there are many many more new animations that help the game flow. PES ID will play a big part in animations for specific players, such as Robben, who had his own shooting, dribbling and passing animations. Tackling as well has had an overall, with tackles looking more natural and diverse.
Game Speed & Strength
I believe an area of the game many fans will be pleased with is the tempo of matches. I found the tempo to be much more realistic to it’s real life counterparts, providing a more calculating match, where you can’t just bomb down the wings and out pace your opponents. The pace is much slower, however to address a concern of a member of our forums, this does not mean that players them selves are just slow. I found that using players who are fast, translates across to how they play, meaning that the slowed down tempo wouldn’t remove advantages that stats provide. Of course pace and speed still play a part in how you will play but so too will strength, and in a big way. In the games I played, I found the strength of players to be very accurate and this helped dictate games. For example if you use Yaya Toure, he will do very well when powering through opponents in real life, however use Giovinco and you will not be so successful. What is fantastic though is the fact that these smaller players don’t necessarily lose the ball as soon as they come up against a stronger opponent. Many times with Neymar I was able to hold off defenders to get my shot away, and the animations in replays I watched, really showed the struggle between the players fighting for the ball. This should be good news for those who picked up on the fact that players like Messi didn’t have a lot of strength in the past game despite being very difficult to get the ball off of.
New Control Settings
There are some new control settings for PES fans to get to grips with, which are very interesting. Advanced Through Ball was the stand out for myself, which allows you to really place where you want your through balls to go and even put curl on them, something you couldn’t do before. This is due to be a highly used setting for PES2014. I was also informed by Asim before our first match to try out the pass assist settings on level 4 and see how I feel. I had to agree with him that even on level 4, passing still felt pretty manual and you had to really think about how and where you passed the ball.
Shooting is the next section to get a load of new animations. Going back to the dinked chip, that is just one of many new striking options. One of the boys playing the game hit a beautiful out side of the boot finish to score, but a very different and more natural finish than what we have seen in past PES titles. Just like with keepers there are a large variety of new animations that are bound to please fans. One problem I did have with the shooting was that I seemed to either hit the bar/post a lot or come extremely close to the goal. There was never a time where I hit a shot far wide or far over, which to me while good for my chances of scoring, isn’t very realistic. However I must say I am excited to see what other animations we get in this department, as the ones I have seen so far are fantastic.
Headers are a main talking point due to the demand for improvement over 2013. While I personally didn’t score any in my time with the game, I did witness a fair few from others. Again it comes back to the animations, you can really see the neck muscles being used to put power behind the headers and they are much more effective than in 2013. In the past year headers have been very rare to score and Konami have clearly answered the calls for change. These changes are not just for attack but also for defence, with defenders managing to get headers away further, and more realistically, than in the previous game.
Goalkeepers are another major complaint from 2013. However there has been a significant change in goalkeeper positioning, reaction saves and one on one situations. Keepers make themselves big when in a one on one situation making it more difficult for attackers to get the ball past and also forcing them to really think about where they shoot, be it at the near post where you could catch the keeper out or at the far past where you can try to curl the ball around the keeper. Keeper reaction saves were a wonderful sight to see. One handed, two handed, even saves with their legs! A big variety of different animations were on display and it was really refreshing to see goalkeepers so heavily improved.
An area of the game that I was not impressed with were referees. There was far too many yellow cards for small fouls that would never be considered a bookable offense in a real match. In a game I observed there were 5 red cards, which clearly shows that there are some issues when it comes to the referees decision making. There was also an instance, although it was only once, where a player was very clearly offside and yet the decision wasn’t called. Wether that is a part of the game, error in decision making is common in real football as many know, or just a bug, we don’t know but it is something that should be removed before the final release.
Heart is a feature that has been mentioned a lot since it was first announced. I did notice that when I did a trick with Neymar that came off, the crowd made more noise and the team pushed on to try and build on it. However, I felt that in what I can only describe as the most understated way possible. Heart was there, but it didn’t stand out, I never at any point felt like heart was taking over. That is the way it should be. When you feel it takes over is when the fears of scripting becomes a reality. I am very happy to say that that was not the case and I only noticed it was even there when I really thought back to certain moments.
I know a lot of you are interested in how the new collision system works and unfortunately at the moment it’s a bit hit or miss. I found that the collision system provoked a lot more fouls and in response, a lot more cards. Hopefully that is something that is being looked at going in to the final version. When players collide is not the main issue though, for me it was when the players didn’t but still made an action that indicated they did. In one instance with Neymar and Nuer, Neymar shot, the ball hit the post and while Nuer was on the ground after failing with his diving save, Neymar ran after it to poke in the rebound. The issue here is that before Neymar could tap in what seemed an inevitable goal, he was forced to jump over the keeper, despite the fact the keeper was not actually where Neymar jumped. What resulted was me watching Neymar jump over the ball and missing the opportunity to score the goal completely. This was something that I brought up with Adam Bhatti, PES European Community Leader, who reminded me that the game is still only at 75% completion.
Set piece guidance is probably the most controversial topic to come out of PES since the “magic boots” from last year. It is understandable to see why many feel this would become an easy exploit for online players, especially after hearing from those at E3 that scoring from corners and free kicks were extremely easy. We could see immediately that that was no longer the case, from corners especially it was plain to see much better positioning from the goal keepers. Instead of being able to score on demand it is more likely those cheeky corner shots will get tipped over or punched out. Free kicks were definitely not easy to score in this latest build, which is more to do in my opinion with how difficult it was to predict how much power you were going to put in, as the power gauge filled up far too quickly for me to be able to accurately input the power of the shot I wanted. I did see some free kicks scored though and they seemed fairly more realistic, although there were a few where I still felt the ball was too central to the goal for the keeper to not save it. I have to say though, I was impressed with penalties, the run ups were always the same for players but the finishes depended on how much power you decide to hit the ball with.
Graphically the game already looks incredible, and that is with out the final layers of polish being applied. The atmosphere and details of the stadiums were fantastic and I spent a fair amount of time watching the entrance cut scenes. Player faces are the best I have ever seen in a football game and the FOX Engine really does not disappoint on this front. There were some frame rate issues when you went from close up replays to normal camera angles during play but that has been fed back to Konami and we hope to see an improvement. Expect to be wowed by the visuals of this game overall though as it is very impressive.
Overall I was impressed, seriously impressed. There are some issues, but thats why we were there. To play the game and feedback the issues we do have so Konami can try their best to iron them out before release. They already have addressed many concerns raised after E3 and it shows the understanding that Konami have got with the community. I am thoroughly looking forward to see what the next playable code at Gamescom brings before we all get the chance to trial the game with the inevitable demo. Konami are very confident they have prepared themselves very well for 2014, and after finally getting my chance with the game, I would be hard pressed to disagree.