This review is an unedited version of the review written by Zombie Dredd and published in the Tech Magazine: Issue 52 December 2017.

It’s a brand new football season, so you know what that means right? Yes, more fantasy league opportunities and transfer controversies, but more importantly it means a brand new entry into the Pro Evolution Soccer franchise.

Every year of course, the arrival of Pro Evolution Soccer is overshadowed by the release of its great rival in the FIFA-franchise but it’s becoming clear that Pro Evolution Soccer is starting to stand proudly on its own. It’s still a matter of personal choice but to write-off PES is to do it a great injustice.

Pro Evolution Soccer 2018 (PES 2018) has again lifted its game since last year’s entry. The gameplay is generally a fluid and thrilling experience. While the passing feels slick, there are a few moments when the direction you have aimed to pass in has a mind of its own. The dribbling feels more intuitive than last year but there were moments when the player movement seems a little robotic – this is usually more noticeable when changing directions.

The goalkeepers do appear a little like fish flapping around out of water and the defending feels a little more clunky than the previous iteration, but even so, the game feels wholly satisfying after you string a number of passes together, break the defence and score a blinder.

Visible improvements see better graphics than ever before in a PES title. The menu and general presentation is still not up to the standard of its nearest rival, but it is now clear that developers Konami have the gameplay as their priority – and that is perfectly fine. The commentary this year is really spot on and generally immersive with little repetition during a match.

What still remains a disappointment is the lack of officially licenced teams, kits and other football fanatic favourites. I’m talking the sort of things that fully immerse the fan and give them the opportunity to take revenge after their team is defeated in the weekend’s match. It is the one element I firmly believe will hold the franchise back from achieving majority market share. Yes, the community (on some platforms) has you covered with access to unsanctioned updates that offer fan-made solutions, but what we really want is our favourite team already on the disc.

PES 2018 comes packed with a good variety of modes. There is not a story mode but if you’re looking to simply play football, then you are fully covered.  Player and manager career modes are available, as well as online multiplayer and the FIFA Ultimate Team derivative (although only just) MyClub. There are plenty of cup and league options to while away an entire weekend. Random Selection Mode is a new mode added this year is which is both a game of psychology and football rolled into one. It’s likely to become a fan favourite in the years to come if retained.

Konami has come up trumps with PES 2018. It’s their best version yet and if it came down to gameplay alone, it would (probably) be 2017’s best football game.

Score: 8/10
Available for: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 and PC
Distributed by: Ster Kinekor and available at all retailers of games