PlayStation Universe

Pro Evolution Soccer 2014 Review: Konami gives up the ball

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on 4 October 2013

Some people claim sign language is the world’s first true universal language. Those people would be right if those signs involved all the dramatics involved in the real universal language, soccer -- or football in the majority of the world that isn’t called Canada and America. Strap on your boots, limber up, take some acting classes and get ready for Konami’s yearly production of the most popular sport in the world.

Pro Evolution Soccer 2014, or Winning Eleven as it is called outside of North America, is to Konami what FIFA is to EA. Due to EA doing what EA likes to do by getting exclusive deals for their sports franchises, see Madden as an example, PES can’t be fairly judged using a strict comparison to FIFA. The lack of licenses automatically takes away from the shine and splendor for those seeking the highest amount of authenticity and realism. Outside of the teams in La Liga, Serie A and Brazil, if they were not in one of the major continental championships like the UEFA or AFC Champions League then they won’t be present in the game. Instead the players are present but they are all put on a fake team to represent their real life counterparts. Go Man Blue!

The graphics in the game do an admirable job at pushing the limits of the PlayStation 3. The players look detailed and life-like even when sprinting past everyone in a blur, helping to immerse the player in the realism of a sports game. Creating players takes scary depth to a whole new level with pinpoint modeling of character’s faces to help anyone who wants to team a dream team of Pele, Ronaldo and Socrates to have their wish. The crowds have too many similar models being repeated to help bring the graphical immersion to the next level, sadly, especially when they look faceless a lot of the time.

The meat and potatoes of the game are its Master League and Be a Legend modes, essentially franchise and career mode. Master mode lets you take over any team and put them in any league to allow you to achieve world glory. Set the rosters, give a game plan, buy and sell players, all the staple elements are there. Legend mode lets you take control of a real or user-created player in an attempt to reach the heights world soccer as the best player, through staying with one team your whole career like the ironman Francesco Totti or by being the mercenary and picking a new team every year ala Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

While on paper it sounds like any other staple mode of a sports game it lacks a real identity, especially in franchise mode. The in-game pop ups give off a more grandiose, micromanagement sim-like experience but instead the player is left with something barebones that serves to push an arcade experience. The game’s economy doesn't work by being unbalanced, trying to sign players is based entirely around luck and is like pulling teeth due to design oversights, and the menus are stiff and clunky making it a chore to do something as simple as re-signing players to new contracts. It is not a fun experience for those who enjoy any kind of simulation or depth in their franchise modes.