Who would have thought that the technology in Hideo Kojima’s practical joke at last year’s VGAs in Los Angeles would make its way to this year’s “Pro Evolution Soccer.” While “The Phantom Pain’s” trailer did befuddle many, there’s no doubt the video was pretty impressive and that technology has been harnessed into Konami’s annual soccer offering in “Pro Evolution Soccer 2014.” The result of that development switch means that “PES 2014” is really an entirely new game.
Video game playing soccer fans around the world are split between EA’s annual offering and “Pro Evolution Soccer.” While the rivalry dates back to the early days of the Playstation 2, for the past few years EA has been the dominant force. The size of the company has allowed it to buy exclusivity agreements all over the world and tie up the licenses for most of the popular soccer leagues and their players. While Konami does still hold a few agreements, like the U.E.F.A. Champions League and a diligent gamer can overcome this hurdle, licensing is still an obstacle for the company.
The real question with “Pro Evolution Soccer 2014” is, how does this new game engine improve the soccer experience? The short answer is, drastically. As far as the on the field gameplay, the experience is unmatched. Where last year’s PES’s control scheme was almost unweildly for a novice, the new physics based system is much more contextual and realistic. The assists in the easy modes make the game almost pick up and play. These physics also mean that movement is much more realistic and well known players are distinguishable on the field.
Unfortunately, the rest of the game experience suffers in the “Pro Evolution Soccer” reboot. The menus and interfaces are confusing and resemble trying to use the web browser on the Playstation 3 with a Dual Shock controller for normal navigation. Strangely, while others are rethinking online codes, Konami has included one for this game. The frame rate also takes a big hit on the tighter shots and just about everything except for the field play. The noticeable screen refreshes are severe enough to cancel out all of the graphical improvements made in the new game. That’s saying a lot, because the new character models do look really great, even though the max resolution is 720P.
The other additions to “Pro Evolution Soccer 2014” aren’t significant, but do make a difference around the edges. The new morale system, while controversial prior to release doesn’t change the game all that much. The refs will also now let the game be decided on the field a little more than previously. As I said before, the new controls will taking some learning for “Pro Evolution” veterans, but it should be easier to rope in more casual gamers to a local multiplayer game. While this year’s attempt isn’t likely to surpass its rival, “Pro Evolution Soccer 2014” lays a solid foundation to build the series upon. With a new generation of consoles fast approaching, Konami has a leg up on its chief competitor.
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