Throughout history epic duals and contests take place, David & goliath, trump vs Clinton, Diaz vs McGregor. For all the duals there can be only one winner and with Video games rivalry few come close to the yearly showdown played out by Konami’s Pro Evolution soccer series and EA Sports FIFA series. This year Konami have fired the starting gun launching Pro Evolution 2017 ahead of FIFA 17. However, does this year’s instalment in the Pro Evolution series build on last year’s success or cement itself firmly in the shadow of FIFA for another year. Here is our Pro Evolution 2017 review.

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Pro Evolution 2016 was a massive success, for many including myself it brought the series back to form and delivered what football fans have been crying out for a worthy competitor to FIFA in the gameplay stakes. So after years of miss steps and license failures Konami have a huge opportunity to control the park after FIFA 16’s much maligned release.

“PES 2017 the best football gameplay experience you can get of all time.”

Well if it ain’t broke don’t fix it, I’m delighted to say that Pro Evolution soccer continues to have the fluid and superb gameplay seen in the 2016 version. There is no whole sale changes and that’s a good thing. What Konami have done is implement some much appreciated gameplay updates to really enhance the gameplay’s authentic feel. The control reality system adds to the already great first touch and turn system ensuring a real feel of unpredictability within each game. That’s not all Pes 2017 has to offer on the pitch as the rather woeful goalkeepers of 2016 are gone and in their place are more assured goalkeepers with sensible AI, there’s no crazy Fabien Barthez moments to worry about every time the ball gets past your defence. Now that’s if the ball does get past your defence, The AI has progressed to enhance defensive movement both on and off the ball ensuring it’s as equally tough to carve with a slow Metersacker as it is to play Messi and dribble through the minions. Perhaps next year Konami will work on the dodgy referee decisions.

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These subtle improvements all culminate in making PES 2017 the best football gameplay experience you can get of all time. I’m not kidding this game is incredible everything now feels fast, authentic and tuned to perfection. I don’t think there has ever been a sports sim that’s managed to get the balance between AI and player controlled interactions tuned to work in tandem.

Just off the pitch, well on the fringes there’s a bit of cosmetic improvement to be seen also, crowds look more alive and have more detail, cinematics showcase tunnel archways and more subtle stadium enhancements to bring each game to life. This is on show none more so when you play as one of the licensed teams. Available are teams such as Barcelona, Liverpool, Arsenal, PSG and Borussia Dortmund and a few more. I say a few as this is no licensing dream fest like FIFA but when PES get a license they really showcase the power of the FOX engine. The Nou camp looks simply stunning and the detail on show is a visual feast for the eyes. Sounds also add to the stadia authenticity with chants ringing round the Nou Camp really making you feel like you’re in a cauldron atmosphere on champions league night.

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What’s still the biggest weakness for PES 2017 is the lack of licensing across the game, although the inclusion of Champions League and Europa League overlays and music really add something special it’s a bit of a let-down when your group is full of Man Blu and East London’s. PS that’s Man City and West Ham in PES chat. These are not game breaking things but it does ruin the immersion a bit. However, this doesn’t take away from the gameplay however and that is king.

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Returning to PES 2017 this year is the many modes that have either become the staple of the series such as Master League and returning new favourites MYClub the direct competitor to FIFA’s Ultimate Team mode. For both little has changed of note, the experience is still great and for Master league I feel it makes a real mockery of the Career mode in FIFA 16. There is now more choice, better player interactions through the inclusion of Skill training and authentic scouting and transfer negotiations. The real treat here is that building your team is reactive to your decisions. Play a player out of position for a few games and over time they will adjust to become more capable in role. So now you can spend hours being your very own tinker man with a slight hit to team chemistry.

With MyClub the setup appears identical to last year with some overall smoother interactions. The biggest addition is the auction system which now enables players to buy and trade players, scouts, managers. It’s just another sign of the mode growing to compete with FUT on EA Sports monster.

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Performance wise I need to salute Konami on another brilliantly smoot game, the menus to pitch all run buttery smooth. The biggest enhancement can be seen on Xbox One, the game is much smoother on the pitch there’s no longer a bit of juddering during gameplay as the console try’s to struggle the Fox engine’s needs. I’m not sure if its 1080p on both consoles but it certainly feels like a locked in 30fps on both. If anything on the visuals the outer blurring around players appears a little less on the PS4 version of the game. That being said I’m enjoying the feel of the game more on Xbox One. I’ not sure why but hopefully our friends at Digital Foundry may do some digging into the technical bits and bobs. Online functionality also appears to have improved, load times and matchmaking are a lot faster this year and thankfully there are a lot less of those nasty pop ups, that being said give Konami time they cant help but speak to us on a daily basis.

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In terms of sound there is another great soundtrack to look forward to and match commentary is back from Mr Jim Beglin the synonymous voice of Pro Evolution Soccer. Unfortunately it feels like many of the lines have simply been regurgitated for this year’s instalment but there is the odd new moment such as my favourite which is “Vardy’s having a party” off course in homage to the phenomenal season Jamie Vardy and Leicester City had last season.

So abit sick fed up of FIFA and want a change, step right over here and join the PES 2017 bandwagon. PES was back last year but this year it really owns it across all departments, it’s the ultimate Football game for sure and FIFA will need to do something special or it will be left out in the cold with a bit of Frostbite……

Pro Evolution Soccer 2017 was reviewed on both Xbox One and PS4 on supplied copies from Konami.

Pro Evolution Soccer 2017 Review
9.5
Gameplay
8
Narrative
10
Graphics
9
Sound
10
Value
Our Score 9.3
You think (0 votes) 0
Verdict
Simply the greatest footballing simulator out there. A game that encourages you to think about your build up play rather than play a basketball back and fourth across the pitch.
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