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Pro Evolution Soccer 2016 Demo Impressions

Pro Evolution Soccer 2016 Demo Impressions

FIFA 16 will outsell PES 2016. In the same way that FIFA 15 outsold PES 2015 and FIFA 14 outsold PES 2014. But the financial ramifications of the sales of both games are best left for the boardroom.

“Is PES 2016 good?” remains the more pertinent question. Or, rather, is it better than FIFA? It’s hard to remember the last time I enjoyed a PES game, or at least it was. PES 2015 was undoubtedly Konami’s greatest effort in the series since 2006; back then, Adriano was on the cover. But the game wasn’t without its problems. Poor presentation, stiff movement, laughably poor goalkeepers and unbelievably strict referees hindered the experience somewhat.

Another year sees yet another challenge from Pro Evolution Soccer on the seemingly imperious FIFA and, if the demo is anything to go by, it’s Konami’s best effort yet.

What’s immediately noticeable is the fluidity of PES 2016. Passing is a lot sharper, with the act of releasing the ball made much quicker. Players no longer have the ball stuck under their feet, and the slight feeling of sluggishness that plagued PES 2015 is entirely gone. Passing is smoother and more varied, too, and an added array of animations serve only to heighten the sense of realism. The speed of the game just feels faster, without straying too far into an arcade-y, unrealistic style.

Undoubtedly however, the game’s biggest improvement is in its AI. I watched an interview recently with Adam Bhatti, PES European Product Manager, where he said, and I’m paraphrasing slightly, “you’ll never have to command the AI to make a run again.” He wasn’t kidding.

To say the AI are smart in PES 2016 would be a gross understatement. Often in football, passing is dictated by the runner more so than the passer himself. The runner moves into space, the man on the ball spots the run and pings it to him. In PES 2016, players make smart runs like these all the time. My full backs are always looking to get on the overlap; midfielders make driving runs into the box from deep; strikers look to play off of the last shoulder of the defender or run into the channels. The players will be there, it’s up to you to find them.

Really, what it all leads to is variety. I’ve spent several hours with the demo, playing on a range of difficulty levels and with every team, and no two games have felt the same -- no two games have followed the same pattern. I score different goals, I concede different goals and I adapt to the flow of the game. Given the limited choice of teams, it’s an impressive feat, one that bodes well when the full game releases this September.

But the demo isn’t perfect. Referees have seen a massive improvement, but I still found myself screaming at the keeper on one too many an occasion; a football fan will know what Manuel Neuer should or shouldn’t be saving, and when it strays into the latter, it shatters any sense of immersion. The needlessly convoluted and difficult set-piece system still remains too, with dead ball situations as tough to execute as ever.

But, aside from that, PES 2016 is…looking pretty good, actually, although the full game still has some important questions to answer. How will the revamped Master League mode look? What changes have been made to MyClub? Will I still have to suffer Jon Champion’s commentary?

EA are yet to release their demo for FIFA 16, but, for the second year running, they have themselves a worthy challenger.



News Reporter

Unemployed and with no redeeming qualities, Socrates now spends his days giving you the la-li-lu-le-lowdown on all things gaming.

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