Pro Evolution Soccer has, in recent years, offered one of the best football video game experiences available, but it was always in close competition with FIFA… Now that PES 2017 is here, though, we can say without a doubt that the Pro Evolution Soccer franchise is better than FIFA 17 on just about every level, and it will definitely be considered not only one of the best football games of all time, but one of the best sports games period.
The best thing about this game is that it doesn’t try to do anything flashy in order to outshine previous iterations. There are no crazy new game modes or major control overhauls; no gimmicks and nothing that’ll be worth noting on the back of the box. So what’s the point of upgrading your PES experience? The changes in 2017 are undoubtedly minor, but there are so many that come together to make the overall experience so much smoother and more enjoyable. Konami has realized that by simply tweaking instead of totally revamping, they can perfect the football game genre as we know it… and they’ve done an excellent job.
PES 2016 made a lot of strides in giving teams and players their own unique personalities. 2017 takes that concept and expands on it greatly- the real world playstyles of almost every star player is mirrored on the virtual pitch, and you can truly feel the difference in their handling when controlling them. Players’ personalities are present in a big way, too- Neymar, for instance, can tear his shirt off after a big goal. It’s a delight seeing these little touches implemented so perfectly, as it helps the game to feel that much more real.
With that being said, the one and only downside I noticed in PES 2017 is the continued lack of full licensing. Teams like Real Madrid, for instance, aren’t filled with their real-life players, and it’s a bit odd to play a game against their modern team without seeing players like Ronaldo.
Keeper AI is integral to a football game, and while it’s something that PES may have struggled with in the past, those problems don’t persist in 2017. Keepers do their job this time around, whether it’s holding onto more shots, recovering quicker from deflections, or knowing where to move and when. They will occasionally make mistakes, but these mistakes seem more human than the game-breaking blunders we’ve seen in the past.
Passing has always been a strong suit of the PES franchise, and it continues to feel buttery smooth. Shooting feels better than ever, and you will basically never have to blame a missed shot on the game- either you didn’t have a good look or you didn’t make a good shot, and that’s all there is to it. The pacing has been slowed down a bit, so the game as a whole feels more tactical, where every movement is more deliberate and every successful bit of footwork is a thrilling victory. The refs are a little more lenient than in the past, but if they do make a call, it’s rarely a bad one.
A lot of the minor changes mentioned earlier are basically polish, and it shows. The UI is friendlier, the commentators are a bit more colorful, animations are smoother, and the graphics are as stunning as ever. You’ll rarely come across a glitch and even online is lag-free almost ninety percent of the time. These little changes add up to make the game more immersive and ultimately more fun than ever before.