It’s that time of the year again where we sit down and tell anyone who will listen why FIFA is better than PES. We’ll shout LICENSING until we’re red in the face and we’ll ignore every other facet of the game. We’ll vehemently stick with our chosen football game and we’ll refuse to accept the other could even come slightly close to our beloved. If you’re one such person you may want to stop reading. Over the last few weeks I’ve been getting stuck into PES 17 and to my amazement, there’s one thing that stands out above all else: it is so much better than FIFA in almost every way (except that tiny little issue of having licenses). Ok perhaps not in every way but at this point in time I’m just so impressed with PES 17 as a football simulator it’s hard to step away from the emotion of it all. I mentioned in my PES EURO 2016 Review that it was the first time I’d picked up PES in years and concluded that I wasn’t sure if I would ever go back to FIFA. Well both games are released and my shelf sits without FIFA 17 – the first time I haven’t purchased a FIFA game since 98.
As with every year all the standard modes are available and they don’t tend to change overly much. What is evident this year is that Konami has made minor improvements and adjustments to the gameplay which is something they do exceptionally well. In terms of gameplay there has never been a finer football game, ever. PES 17 has a slew of tactical options on offer and to truly get the most out of the title you will have to apply them. Obviously the better the player on the ball the easier it will be pull off the moves you’re looking for, but in terms of full team play the tactics are vital. This year the scorelines are far more realistic and I put that down to the incredible AI control. In previous iterations it was a little too easy to score and the AI was defensively lacking. Not so in PES 17 where the defenders will be far harder to break down and a certain amount of patience will be required to get that elusive goal. The goalkeepers have been tweaked this year to create a far more realistic feel to shot-stopping but Bravo is still a spud (relax, I’m joking).
The amount of tactical options available to the player will appeal to fans of the Football Manager games as will the impressive personal data options giving you levels of assistance, from none at all to full assist. Players will be able to save their Personal Data options, assigning the saved set they would like to use before each match. For someone just picking up the title, setting the shot control and through ball type to basic will ensure the ball will be guided to where they want it to go but as you select advanced settings you will find there is far more precision and control required of the player. In-game you will have the option of using simple tactics or more advanced ones depending on the level of control you like to have over the game. Within these options you can choose which players will mark the opposition, how your team will conduct themselves in attack or on defence, level of pressure and much much more. What is cool about these features is the graphic that actually shows you the player movement with each setting and arrows with movement after the ball is played. Graphically Pro Evolution Soccer 17 holds up to scrutiny. Player faces are spot on, the overall look of the game is delicious and what I personally love is the detailed crowds during a match. Konami has made a real effort to create a game where almost everything is as close to possible as the real thing and there is nowhere that this is more evident than in the players.
Suns out, guns out
An array of options
They’ve nailed it
Last year we were given glimpses at attempts to make the players more like their real life counterpart but Konami has stepped it up this year. Players with real world speed are now more likely to use it on the pitch and get past the last line of defence. Players like Raheem Stirling and Theo Walcott can be extremely dangerous going forward if you don’t make a real effort to shut them down. Player celebrations have been closely matched giving players matched personalities in the virtual world. Konami have included a special celebration with Neymar, allowing you to take your shirt off after a goal and as you would expect, he will be given a yellow card for his troubles. This year’s soundtrack has a really nice list of songs ranging from Skrillex and Bieber to Twenty One Pilots and it sets the tone of the game nicely. The only problem I have with the soundtrack is the size of it; coming in at a measly 12 songs, you’re going to hear the same song played a lot.
Now it’s not all sunshine and lollipops with PES 17. Of course you have the major issue of licensing which is the reason most people go to FIFA instead. What most gamers don’t realise is it’s a pretty simple process to get all teams licensed with a quick download of a file that can be put onto a USB and into a PS4. Of course that’s all a bit too hard and after I’ve written about how simple it is I still haven’t done it myself (ceebs). Another issue with this title is the online connectivity. More so than what I’ve experienced in FIFA, PES 17 has real stability issues that go beyond my shitty ADSL1 internet connection (yes, you read that right). Often finding a game is more difficult than you would expect and when you do get one the lag is pretty unbearable. That of course I do put down to my shitty internet connection but I’ve always been able to pay smoothly on FIFA with it. As I mentioned earlier the defensive AI is far more capable this year and goalkeepers attack the ball more realistically. That is until you come to long, straight shots. Time and again I have watched a goalkeeper miss an easy save when it is put right at him. Sure, their reactions to crosses, corners and through balls is far better but I can’t tell you how infuriating it is to watch them miss an absolute sitter. Part of the reason I think this happens is the unbelievable power and accuracy players have when turning in front of goal. It seems like having your back to goal then quickly turning and belting off a shot is a sure fire way to score, however unrealistic that may be.
Pro Evolution Soccer 17 is the finest football game I have ever played. With impressive graphics, customisation and tactical options and most of all gameplay improvements, there really isn’t too much to complain about. Updates to team dynamics, player personalities and advanced tactics make it feel like your team choice makes a difference. No longer will you rely on individual brilliance, with a shift towards overall team dynamic leading the way into the future. Sure, the soundtrack could be bigger and certain player actions may be unrealistic but it doesn’t detract from the overall enjoyment of the title. As we proceed I’m certain the minor issues experienced will be dealt with and further updates will be provided to make the game even better. If you’ve made it this far into the review you must want to hear what I have to say so hear this: put down FIFA and immediately go and purchase PES 17. I promise you won’t be disappointed.