Pro Evolution Soccer 2017 on the PlayStation 4 allows players to take control of the pitch in Konami’s trophy hunting series and fill your boots with an authentic football experience. PES 2017 delivers improved ball physics, adaptive AI that learns how you play, and hundreds of new player animations, including enhanced goalies making them the most agile keepers in PES history.
- DualShock 4
- Blu-ray Disc
Pro Evolution Soccer 2017 (officially known as PES 2017) is a sports video game developed by PES Productions and published by Konami. The game is the 16th installment in the Pro Evolution Soccer series. It was released in September 2016 on PC, Xbox 360, Xbox One, PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 4.
A Pinnacle on the Pitch
The soccer genre has long been dominated by the PES and Fifa series. While the occasional sidebar like Mario Strikers makes a little noise, the genre has been focused on hard-line sims that incrementally improve year to year. They compete for licenses, player likenesses, and playability in a way many sports genres don't due to the presence of two legitimate competitors. This is obviously to the benefit of gamers and this year's version of PES is one of, if not the, penultimate soccer experience released on any console this generation.
Starting with the gameplay, Konami has had years to tinker with their engine to match the pace of the pitch, but also manage the weight the ball and players in a way that creates a unique realism not achieved in Fifa. What this has summated into is a slower paced game that captures the intensity of real football but also accentuates the importance of every aspect of the game. This means deliberate offense, flexible defense, and an understanding of the importance of the field's geography. Soccer, unlike most sports, has a strategic and perpetual playing field that demands usage in patient and creative ways. Konami has perfectly captured the importance of spacing in this title and understanding how and why players need to devote effort to every aspect of their team's field.
Aside from this, the game controls with precision and great comfort. Reticule passing is brilliantly fun, goalkeeping is sensible and somehow (stressfully) fun, and there's a general exhilaration captured in all of the player movement. This excitement is created by Konami placing an emphasis on rewarding player skill as a ball handler or as a midfield decision maker. Longtime or skilled players adept with the ball handling tricks or 'moves' can perform all sorts of acrobatics on the pitch in fun but continually realistic ways. This reward completes a gameplay cycle in PES that stretches fun to every aspect of the play so there's literally no dip in the quotient during games.
Now aside from this tight gameplay and streamlined control system, Konami has delivered a robust simulation mode that not only encourages players to create their own narratives but rewards investment and thoughtful planning. Master League is as detailed as ever but it's also more approachable and inviting to newer players curious in investing some time into learning the more complex systems. From scouting to training to negotiating and organizing your roster; the mode improves in virtually every way from the prior iterations. The presentation and menus, the game flow, and the even the tutorials are more sensible and easier to approach. The other notable 'deeper' mode beside this is the Be A Legend mode, which hasn't seen the same change or level of improvements. Thankfully, this solo focused mode was already a standout that allows you to create your own avatar to work your way through the ranks and excel on the pitch. The RPG-like stat building encourages players to really find a 'class' aka their position and stick to it early on. Making the decision to be a world-class defender, goalie or striker will appease different sorts of players and each of them, in my experience, has been equally rewarding.
None of this content and quality gameplay would amount to much if the performance, presentation and aesthetic quality weren't top-notch. The game is pure and looks as clean as it gets, with great textures and distinctive faces, and a streamlined look that accentuates the spectacle as you'd expect. The sounds of the game and crowd noise create a complete and great atmosphere as well, channeling in chants and all sorts of aural elements to enhance the experience. Lastly, the game runs at a 60 FPS clip without fault and while not essential to a sports game, it's incredibly satisfying to play something so technically sound. In short, PES isn't a stunning beauty of a game, but its a perfectly and functionally pretty one and it never takes a moment off.
There are a few quirks worth noting that can drag the experience for some. Refs have become a little more fickle and aggressive which can affect play styles and slow down the pace a little more than desired (0-0 ties are not uncommon). As well, there are some minor issues with the cursor passing system that arrive when the camera is pulled back to scope the larger field. These happen too often and can be one of the few interruptions to an otherwise sublime experience. Lastly, it's important to note there are no licenses in this game and this is the biggest selling point for Fifa over PES. So, if you're intent on playing as Messi, and you're adamant about hearing the Chelsea chants, you may have to look elsewhere.
On the whole, PES 2017 sets the new standard for soccer simulations. It has the best control and gameplay on the market and it flows nearly perfectly. All elements of the gameplay are a joy to play and the depth of its modes is up there with Fifa. Despite the absence of licenses, any and all fans of the sport will garner great enjoyment from this title. Don't miss it.