Pro Evolution Soccer 2016 might well be the greatest soccer game ever made.
To explain why is something of a challenge. The improvements do not lend themselves easily to snappy back-of-the-carton soundbites. Instead, it’s a game that has been refined in dozens of little ways, all of which have a positive effect that is cumulatively. Pro Evolution Soccer has shaken off the last remnants of PS2-era rigidity, delivering a more unstable, more reactive and quicker game of football. I’m consistently a bit reluctant to make direct comparisons to FIFA – not least as I’ve only played with the demo version of EA Sports game – because the two handle in such ways that are clearly different. For my money, while FIFA more accurately recreates the look of the sport, Pro Evolution Soccer is.
or starters, there’s a much more powerful awareness of physicality this year. It’s most evident when players jostle for possession (and, really, for position). It often felt like results were but it’s no longer quite so foreseeable. Context is everything: whether you lose or win the ball in a challenge depends on several factors, taking into account the ability of the players and their position in relation to the ball and one another. A slide tackle that is clean is particularly filling: contingent on player momentum, they’re among the most concrete demonstrations of your skill to read your competition and the game. By the same token, if you jab X while running alongside an adversary to attempt a standing tackle, instead of waiting for the right moment to step in, then you’re bound to surrender a free-kick.
The assaulting game has been tweaked, too, and it’s here you’ll first see the attempt Konami has invested in individualising players. Anyone with a low centre of gravity – like Sergio Aguero –, Carlos Tevez and Alexis Sanchez is a joy to control, as these players have the equilibrium to skip over challenges, occasionally stumbling when clipped but always striving to stay on their feet.
There’s a clear difference between these players and someone like Raheem Sterling, who has whippet-like pace, but his little build means he’s outmuscled much more readily. Shooting is likewise contextual, and the type of strike clearly varies from player to player. Tevez in particular has a Howitzer of a right foot, and while you’d usually expect the ball to increase the more you press the shot button, it’s a delight to see him thundering a low-bouncing strike below the dive of the goalkeeper, fizzing off the surface to send the internet billowing. Discussing of ‘keepers, they’re reactive and more alert this time around, scrambling across their goal to palm away daisy cutters, and getting up quickly to lunge at loose balls they’ve merely parried.
The notion of player personality goes well beyond the match’s biggest stars. But I was thrilled to see the tenacity of Pablo Zabaleta well represented, while Aleksandar Kolarov’s marauding runs down the left would invariably lead to a cross whipped in from the norm with a palpable increase in pace. One opponent managed to use this to his advantage, frequently locating openings down the channels until I made a change to tighten things up.
The upshot of this is that match management is more crucial than ever. Substitutions and changes of formation can make all the difference in a tightly fought competition. On one such occasion I brought Franck Ribery off the bench in a play to torment a flagging Borussia Dortmund rearguard: in the minutes that followed, a red card and an own goal turned what had been a tight game into a rout.
The movement of your team-mates, meanwhile, is spectacular – to a fault. If you’ve got a full back that likes to get forward, you’ll normally see them streaking down the touchline ahead of your wingers, gesturing ostentatiously to receive the ball. Give the ball away in this scenario and you can end up terribly exposed. You can control their natural instincts by tinkering with strategies, though it’s ’s strengths that are not always wise to ignore a player when you’re able to fix the system.
There’s never any need to remember elaborate button combinations to accomplish your aims. Pro Evolution Soccer discreetly simplifies everything, without leaving you feeling like you’re not completely in control. Sometimes you might use movies and measure-overs to bamboozle an adversary; sometimes you might just need an abrupt change of pace to open up space. There’s a little amount of automation required, but it’s perfectly calibrated: you might not be directly accountable for the miniature hop which allows you to clear a last-ditch challenge, but you’ll believe it was your own mastery that empowered you to get there in the first place. They, and a measure closer to the defender, after all ’d surely have robbed you.
With the skill to immobilize your favourite game types to the home screen, while Master League has experienced an interface overhaul that makes one of the medium’s greatest profession ways even more enjoyable, menus are much more user friendly, away from the pitch. I’m not about to list all the licences that are present and those that aren’t, as you can readily find that information elsewhere; besides, it’s clear that while Konami is still attempting to grab as many as it can, this is one place where FIFA will always have the upper hand. That said, PS4 owners will manage to use option files: assuming the Pro Evolution Soccer community doesn’t suffer a sudden attack of lazyitis, then you definitely should soon have the capacity to import exact rosters, kits, team names and more this year.
If Konami has located the appropriate type of chemistry on the pitch, it’s still searching when it comes to the comment box. The ebullient Peter Drury is a welcome replacement for Jon Champion, but he’s a little overly unrestrained, greeting injury-time and deflected consolation goals scissor kick victor alike with the same rhapsodic, full-throated delight. The contrast with the terminally unimpressed Jim Beglin is particularly stark.
It’s challenging to pick fault with what Konami has reached. I think it’s still too early to say with absolute assurance that Pro Evolution Soccer 2016 is the best football game ever. It ’s in the weeks and months after launch a soccer match can really establish its place in the hearts and heads of its community. Just then can its idiosyncrasies be actually analyzed, and its nuances completely comprehended. Only then will sweet spots and exploits make themselves known. What I can say is this: hand on heart, I can’t recall ever being consistently thrilled, surprised and delighted by a soccer game before.
Though that doesn’t after the rebuilding comes the refinement – do justice to the myriad improvements that help transform a great football game into an all time great. Pro Evolution Soccer 2016 finds the best mix on the pitch while benefiting from some clever tuning off it. What a way to celebrate your 20th anniversary.
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Pro Evolution Soccer 2016 Gameplay:
It’s challenging to pick fault with what Konami has achieved. I believe it’s still too early to say with absolute assurance that Pro Evolution Soccer 2016 is the best football game ever. It ’s in the weeks and months after launch a soccer game can definitely confirm its place in the hearts and heads of its community. Just then can its idiosyncrasies be actually analyzed, and its nuances completely understood. Only then will sweet spots and exploits make themselves understood. What I can say is this: hand on heart, I can’t remember being thrilled, surprised and delighted by a football match before. Though that doesn’t after the rebuilding comes the refinement –, do justice to the myriad advancements that help transform a fantastic football match into an all time great. Pro Evolution Soccer 2016 finds the best mix on the pitch while profiting from some intelligent tuning off it. What a way to celebrate your 20th anniversary.