Pro Evolution Soccer 2014 Review: Konami gives up the ball
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A fun arcade experience that goes all-in hoping that all you want to do is kick a ball around. No depth, lack of licensed leagues due to exclusivity deals, and slow menus keep this from being a legitimate challenger to FIFA’s undisputed throne on console soccer.
- Tight ball controls and life-like dribbling
- Graphics that push the PS3
- Scary depth in creating pin-point accurate character faces
- Total disregard to depth in the basic game modes
- Unbalanced and broken economy
- Poorly-designed stamina gauge
Career mode is also a barebones experience as well, with hardly anything for the simulation fan to do. Sign for a team, set your training meter and keep skipping weeks until you’re called up by the manager to play if you chose to start off as a created player. I do give credit and enjoyed the realism of my 65-rated striker not starting every game in the Dutch Eredivisie, but with half of the leagues sporting a roster of fake teams it is not that exciting being stuck on a fake Middle Eastern team to get to play regular minutes.
Getting into the actual match the arcade style can definitely be felt. A simple button layout keeps the game easy, while a couple finesse buttons allow those who want a deeper, more technical experience to improve their game. Passing and shooting felt good, and it was nice to see a big difference between a player shooting with a 60 finishing and shanking the ball wide a lot, compared to a lethal 90 finishing and the ball wanting to rip through the netting. PES emphasizes ball control a lot more than FIFA, as I felt a significant difference in keeping control of the ball with weaker players compared to more elite players.
For those who did not read my Professional Baseball Spirits 2013 review, or have zero experience with the Japanese sporting import market, it would be a bit of a shock to learn that Konami can make quality sports games like EA and 2K outside of the PES series. This is why it is painful to admit that Konami makes EA look like the king of soccer games, even though they are notorious for re-hashing every sports franchise. Although the game’s controls are fine, the rest of the experience proves a bit dull. This is an arcade experience and plays like an arcade experience, but then tries to be something it is not with its game modes. This split personality hurts the overall package of the game, and outside of just playing quick matches there is zero point to play career or franchise mode unless you’re a diehard PES fan because every other soccer series does it better.
PES 2014 is an arcade soccer game that emphasizes tight controls and gameplay for those who enjoy kicking the ball around more than going over spreadsheets. But from a company that created, in my opinion, the best and deepest sports experience every created for a console in Professional Baseball Spirits 2013, it is severely disheartening that they could not put that same insane amount of depth into the PES series. Fans of the series will swoon and enjoy it, but without any tangible depth outside of quick matches or online it might not be worth the money for those undecided on what franchise to choose.
Dane Smith is the Japan editor for PlayStation Universe. When not out on the streets of Nagoya wondering why no one is looking for a Yakuza-style showdown, he can be found cracking open the newest RPG to hit the shelves. You can follow him on Twitter or read some of his past musings.
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