Every season, gamers get their hands on the latest soccer games. The only decision fans have to make is what franchise they want to go for. After all, Konami’s Pro Evolution Soccer has a fierce rival in EA’s FIFA series.
While EA has enjoyed the lion’s share of success, in recent times Konami has closed the gap. So much so that PES is now seen as a viable alternative to many soccer fans around the world.
The question is, does Pro Evolution Soccer 2018 finally tip the scales in Konami’s favor?
Sports games live and die almost completely on their gameplay. Players can forgive poor graphics, but will not put up with sloppy, unenjoyable gameplay.
Fortunately, PES 2018 did not have to take a massive step forward. Konami had already laid the groundwork in the last few iterations of the series. So, their work could instead focus on refining the gameplay and making improvements to areas that fans still find lacking.
With no story mode to speak of (unlike FIFA’s The Journey), PES 2018 is all about the football. The game feels as fluid and realistic as ever. Dribbling has seen a huge improvement and passes now have a genuine sense of weight to them.
This helps with the new Real Touch+ system as well. A player’s control of the ball will depend on where their first touch occurs and how hard the ball was hit. What is most satisfying, though, is that individuals now feel unique on the pitch. Each has their own characteristics that actually shine through.
There are only two real complaints with the gameplay and these both focus on the defensive side of the game. Defenders often have a hard time staying in position. They also suffer from slow reaction times, taking a moment to recover from a loss in possession. It is almost as if they have an in-built delay when attack suddenly switches to defense.
Goalkeepers too suffer from some of the inconsistency that has plagued the last few entries in the series. Expect them to make breathtaking saves one minute and then let in an absolute howler the next.
The end result of both of these issues is a lot of frustration. Although, there isn’t enough irritation to ruin the rest of the experience.
Konami hasn’t made any huge strides forward when it comes to the game modes on offer. The usual suspects are all still present and there is nothing new to entice players in.
Players have access to Master League where they can take on the ultimate challenge of both managing and playing. There’s also “Become a Legend.” This puts the emphasis on one player, letting you play solely as them as you build their career.
The mode “myClubs” makes a return in PES 2018 as well. Essentially acting as an alternative to Ultimate Team from FIFA, it has improved significantly in this release. Yet, the truth is that it still cannot compete directly with the more popular game mode from EA. It simply isn’t as polished or fun to build up a team from scratch.
Pro Evolution Soccer 2018 better shows its strengths when it comes to fully-licensed tournaments. Both the Champions League and Europa League competitions are here to enjoy.
The presentation for PES 2018 is something of a mixed bag. Stadiums looks fantastic and the crowds within them look and sound great. This helps to foster a sense of authentic atmosphere in matches. A lot of praise has to go to the developers for making the animations silky smooth as well. However, the in-game menus are still disappointing.
Player models have seen improvements, at least in some cases.. Fully-licensed players like the superstars from Barcelona or Dortmund look incredible. Each of these individuals not only looks exactly like their real life counterpart, but also acts like them.
Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for other players. Even full internationals for countries such as England and Spain have players that look like generic placeholders. Although this is not a huge deal, it can bring you out of the immersion.
While FIFA has expanded and updated its commentary team, PES 2018 leaves a lot to be desired. The team of Peter Drury and Jim Beglin just doesn’t work. The two do not seem to have any chemistry. What is worse, the pair even talk over each other at times in what appears to be an error within the game. There is also a lot of repetition, so that you hear the same phrases over and over again. Konami definitely needs to improve on this in the future.
Despite the updates, there are still some issues that hold PES 2018 back. The dodgy defensive issues are infuriating at times, while the lack of full licenses for most teams and leagues will put players off.
If you can get past those problems, then Pro Evolution Soccer 2018 has plenty to offer. Casual players who just want to have some fun playing as their favorite teams with their friends will probably stick to FIFA. However, those who want a more authentic footballing experience that feels right should try this game.