Another year, another PES. This time we hit PES 2018 and the start of a new “3-Year Plan” according to Konami. This means that PES2018 has been worked on for the last three years. That set’s up pretty high expectations, so does the football game equivalent to David hit those expectations? Yes and no, we’ll explain more below.
I’ll start by getting a few things out of the way, namely the visuals and audio of the game. Sports games (bar NBA 2K) have struggled to get the commentary on point. This year in PES changes nothing unfortunately. It’s still clumsy, confusing and lacks passion. The commentators themselves are fine choices, but we’ve heard the same lines over and over and they almost become frustrating to listen to when, for example, they say the foul that was just given against me was a clear yellow despite the fact I clearly get the ball. The crowds still contribute nothing to the atmosphere of the games as well and this is an area where personally I would love to see a lot of development and improvement in future games. The lack of passion and atmosphere in stadiums was specifically noticeable to me during the Champions League mode where regardless of if I was playing at home or away the atmosphere felt the same and relatively flat. On top of this when I scored a last minute equaliser in one of my games I did not feel the crowd responded at all. For a club tournament that is historically so important the lack of atmosphere puts me off wanting to replay the mode.
Visually the game this stunning. However we knew this, but it should still be pointed out that the artists in Japan deserve a lot of credit for sculpting brilliant faces and designing beautiful stadiums. There is an much more to say about the game in terms of graphics, I do not believe that the jump between 2017 and 2018 is so large that we haven’t already spoken about this before. However we should still give praise to the team for creating a brilliantly beautiful game.
Now on to what you have all been waiting for, how does the game play? In the build up to 2018 I was incredibly excited for everyone to play this game. The previous builds left me feeling a lot of promise for 2018. When the online beta dropped that excitement continued to grow. However, when the demo was released that excitement quickly turned into confusion. The game had changed and not for the better. Fortunately the team at Konami listened to the demo feedback and implemented a day one patch, this patch appears to have solved at least my personal major gripes with the demo.
The pace of the game is slow, methodical and calculated. This isn’t for everyone however this is for the hard-core. Previously players were super fast and had a ping-pong style game of football and the pace of 2018 solves this issue. The players feel that they have weight to them and do not fly across the pitch unrealistically. This was one of the things changed in the demo and I am glad that Konami had made this change back.
Goalkeepers have always been a contentious point of discussion in the Pro Evolution Soccer series. From what I have played the keepers have been superb, they have made some incredible saves and are very rarely caught out of position. That is not to say that they have not made any mistakes, as even keepers in real life do, but 95% of the time the keepers have been outstanding for me. When they make saves they tend to parry the ball away from the goal, they cover their near post and they make run outs at the appropriate times. Now everything I just mentioned is dependent on how good your goalkeeper is, if your goalkeeper is rated 64 then their ability to make such saves will obviously be limited.
Passing and shooting are key elements of a football game and it is incredibly important that Konami gets this right. Passing is very calculated but very good. Again in the demo passing felt far too assisted but now this has been rectified. Full manual is still the best way to ensure the ball goes exactly where you want it to however it does take some time to master. Alongside this you can use advance through balls to further control the ball and its movements. The power of the passes are of course dictated by how long you hold the pass button. Once you get to grip with passing you’ll find that the best way to play the game is by creating a attacks through your passes. In addition the added animations for passing is extremely welcome and visually they can create some spectacular goals, including passes and crosses with the outside of the players boot. Shooting however suffers still despite added animations. The lack of variety hampers the realism of shooting and I feel this may be a losing battle for Konami as despite adding more it’s still not enough. A good example of realistic shooting animations has to be drawn to FIFA who just gets it on this specific occasion. The weight of some shots definitely felt underpowered when I had clearly held down the shoot button. Simply put, shooting is a problem Konami need to solve.
The general gameplay however still stands out and is easily the best part of the entire package, as it should be. As previously mentioned the pace is spot on and while I’ve not felt team AI stand out from team to team, the truly exceptional players, Neymar etc, stand out easily on the pitch from their peers. Fouls still do not occur enough from the opposing AI. I had one foul in my first four games which simply put, isn’t good enough or realistic. The great news is that Konami have already said they are exploring ways to improve this. Dribbling is fantastic with the right players and impossible with the wrong ones, which is how it should be. The right stick is still king when it comes to getting past players whilst dribbling and perform little deft touches and tricks. The last negative gameplay element in my opinion is that the promise of auto shielding has shown minimal results. In the earlier builds I was lucky enough to play it was prevalent, however now I see it only a few times in the game and very rarely from the AI.
Modes suffer again this year with minimal changes to MyClub and Master League. Random Selection mode is back though and is a massive addition for a bit of fun. However it doesn’t take away the sting when the modes there for longevity have barely changed. Transfer tweaks are welcome in Master League but not enough and MyClub will be relying on a winning formula from last year.
Konami have increased their licenses this year by adding more partner clubs, Internazionale, Valencia, Fulham among many others. However the lack of the big boys, Manchester United, Juventus, Real Madrid and Bayern Munich will be a blow to PES League players who will be restricted to licensed teams only in the PES League finals. However for everyone else Edit mode will be your saving grace as per usual. By the end of month 1 I am certain that Editing sites like PES World and others will have every single team in the game looking perfect.
As online is unavailable we are unable to cover it, however we will play when it is and update this review.
The changes made in the day 1 patch have saved PES2018 from being the ultimate waste of potential. Overall the game is very good but still needs changes to shooting, fouls, atmosphere and finding some individuality in the teams. Modes still are craving some more attention too, and this ultimately stops the game from being superb. If you are hardcore, you may be content if even a bit disappointed, however for the more average gamer, PES 2018 is a fun and fantastic game of football.