Distributor: Ster Kinekor
Reviewed on: Xbox 360
Also available on: PC, Playstation 3
If we had to give it a numerical score: 8/10
What I liked
- Visuals up to date
- New licensed leagues
- Smoother gameplay
- Gameplay speed spot on now
Not so much
- Online broken
- New simulation gameplay doesn’t work for me
Gameplay and Features
Let me start by saying, wow, what an achievement. The FOX Engine brings the PES 2014 bang up to date and the speed is perfect now. The ball doesn’t feel to heavy and glides across the field. Konami were listening. The menus no longer look like they were pulled from the Xbox days, the sound effects are modern and the players movement and animations have finally caught up.
Konami are clearly moving to offer a full simulation. This was started previously with the manual passing, the manual shooting, but now Konami are giving you the opportunity to manually controll just about everything. This might work and please fans, but for me, some of the new ‘simulator’ like controls actually detract from it all.
What I love so much about football, is watching the team put together a glorious attack. Finding that gap, that through-ball, that space along the wing. Or watching a defense fall into formation, closing that gap, shutting the play down. I found with these new standard “simulation” settings I was too busy watching the ball targets of where my pass or through-ball was going, or trying best to get the power and direction of the shot spot on. This was detracting from me concentrating on the bigger picture, getting a great play together and trying best to get it to unfold in the manner I envisioned.
Fortunately all the issues I had were fixable. You can adjust just about everything and turn off the manual elements. So after actually turning off most of the new elements, I found the PES I used to love. Importantly, the speed of the game no longer feels arcade like, and the game flows more realistically. Konami has not only bragged, and rightfully so about the realistic ball physics, but also the players’ motion animations. This is an area where PES lagged way behind Fifa in the past, and while I still think Fifa still renders more “impressive” animations! PES 2014 has improved greatly on the games before it. The way players react and move in the different situations has been greatly improved as has the AI in general. The only department with the AI that I still disagree with is the defending. The AI still manages to catch my back-line completely off guard, resulting in these massive gaps or leaving my defence for dead. I mean this just doesn’t happen that often in reality. A striker getting through the defence, with the defensive line two, three meters behind. This happens all too often in PES and not even necessarily when I’m playing for the offside trap. The defensive physics are about the only aspect that I have an issue with. The shooting, the dribbling, the passing both high and low, the player movement and animations, all look an feel spot on for me with this latest PES.
Game modes again include the fully licensed UEFA Champions League, UEFA Super Cup and now you can play in the UEFA Europa League without entering Master League. Become a Legend since it’s inception, or variations thereof is still a complete swing and a miss for with sport games, and then there’s the tweaked Master League, which again allows you to take the “unknowns” or real team’s squads from the start. The Master League is deeper than ever, intergrating the best aspect of managing a team. But it’s the cups and licensed new leagues that are actually becoming my highlight of the PES games, as I must admit, I do love the authenticity of it all – the official song, the visuals – all very enticing.
The game modes that actually took me by surprise is the new exclusively licensed AFC Champions League and the Chilean Primera División. The South American’s play a different brand of football, and whilst I have played with Brazilian teams, never Argentine or Chilean. I actually loved giving the leagues a go complete with authentic commentary and all.
The online code has never been the best with PES games and this one is no different. Konami are actually experiencing issues preventing Xbox 360 players from playing online matches as we can’t a download a particular file to ensure all players are on the same options file. Online matched just do not work at this point, making PES 2014 a complete singleplayer experience on the Xbox 360.
Sound and visuals
The theme song this year is a famous, dramatic opera song (don’t ask me the name), and it sets the mood beautifully. The soundtrack in general is a worthy one, and even those cheesy in-menu sound effects have been totally modernized, making PES 2014 feel fresh and I impressive on the aesthetics side of things.
The headliner, the use of the FOX engine, also completely brings the game up to date. Even the menus have been improved. The players look realistic and true to their real-life counterparts. Their animations are smooth, way less clunky than pervious games. The goal-celebration video bits are absolutely stunning, better than the competition actually, selling the drama of it all. Overall the FOX engine helped bring the desperately in need series to the modern day.
My opinion on which football series I prefer is becoming ever more skewed as the two series progress. At the end of the day, I used to lean to the series which I favored on the technical side of things, and this used to be PES. And while PES 2014 delivers the best, technically, that it has in a long time, so does Fifa nowadays. PES 2014 even looks bang up to date thanks to the new FOX engine, so I should be round about now, shelving my Fifa 14 copy. But I’m not. Fifa 14 ensured I would be playing all season long with its trump card – Fifa Ultimate Team. So while my preferences between the two series, technically, becomes ever more skewed, it’s the game modes where PES 2014 falls short for me. PEs 2014 is still a must and will probably always be in future, thanks to its technical merits the European tournament licenses. I also applaud Konami for moving ever forward with delivering a full on simulation, even though I’m not a fan of where these aspects currently stand.
Read about our ratings here.