The beautiful game is back on our screens after a long summer and that usually means several things. The annual calls for Arsene Wenger to leave arsenal are echoing around football grounds all over the UK and a slough of top notch footie games are finding their way to your gaming device of choice. This year is no different and as tradition dictates Pro Evolution soccer 2018 (PES 2018 for the in the knows) is first out the gates. Promising more refined gameplay, slicker presentation visuals and more authenticity than you can shake a lines mans flag at.
This years instalment of Pro Evolution Soccer 2018 certainly lives up to its name as king of the pitch, the gameplay is alot more further refined with Konami taking alot of time and effort to craft true authenticity with close control and measured build up play. The game hosts a swell of new animations and gameplay mechanics that all come together to make the game feel much more true to life. One particular aspect I love is the new close ball control mechanic. Depending on your controller setup a quick tap of the trigger buttons will have you blocking, holding up and shoving opposition players off the ball. This is a welcome addition and goes that little bit further in reversing the horrifying memories of PES 2013/2014!
With slicker close controls comes better of the ball action too, players are more aware of their surroundings, the AI is providing better off the ball runs. You may think we had all this in last years instalment but the differences are subtle but its the precision in which everything you do in PES 2018 makes the experience feel true to life. If you want to fire a cross field ball to your wing backs you can but its how they collect the ball that will have you smiling, the player bodies are fully responsive to the ball physics, players can take the ball on their chest and trap on their foot or collect at full place by a subtle touch by their shoulder. The only weakness I still felt with PES 2018 is that the defending still feels a bit repetitive all too often im lured into having the AI tackle rather than myself in control of another player. The homing missile technique as FIFA fans would call it, this can be altered on PES but unless you want to always give the opposition space this is a must use tactic especially as you progress up the difficulty levels.
In terms of game modes Pro evolution soccer 2018 doesn’t bring alot of new ideas to the table and PES 2018 brings back icon modes such as Master leagues and become a pro. Online Co-Op has been introduced in a couple of areas and Konami are striving for a FIFA Ultimate Team killer and with their MyClub mode PES 2018 has taken another small step towards this, however I would have liked to see them make more of this lucrative game mode, for most if will appear simply as a skin change and the lack of innovative modes within myClub likely wont have you coming back daily despite the offering of plenty of coins. For PES 2019 I would really like to see new innovative modes that don’t just gap fill until FIFA appears.
With all the gameplay improvements there has also been time and effort put into the crowds, stadiums and broadcast visuals. With PES 2018 showcasing more official branding than any version of pro evolution soccer before it, there is improvements across the board. We still don’t have official branding everywhere however and leagues such as the Barclays premier league are still missing. With the authentic licensing brings a selection of teams official kits, badges and stadiums which look stunning in 4K on the PS4 Pro. Out with this then its the usual story of poor player likeness, bland kits and a lack of anything unique about the match day experience. Something FIFA 18 truly has the upper hand with. What is much improved is the visuals outside of the replays. I always found PES to provide average visuals and then knock it out the park during gameplay replays, well on the PS4 Pro it looks just as stunning on the pitch in gameplay as it does during replays and cut scenes. For Pro Evolution Soccer 2018 on the Xbox One I can’t comment but I’m sure on the Xbox One X players will eventually get to experience the benefits however this has yet to be confirmed officially but you can check this link for regular Xbox One X enhanced games.
Despite all the gameplay enhancements experienced in pro evolution 2018 there is still one significant issue that makes me feel the game is going backwards rather than forwards with and that is the clunky old school user experience presented across the games menus. With needless popups for loading and saving, granted less than last years version the menus appear very old in terms of look and feel. With more than a lick of paint required this set of poor menu’s across of game modes and in game options need a substantial overhaul. It’s not to say options and game modes are hard to find but the display technque being used is far too simplistic for a game that oozes sophistication in its gameplay. Commentary with PES 2018 also requires some innovation, it didn’t take long to begin hearing repetition across the dialogue lines and that was me playing across modes and teams. After one full season in master league you will keen to switch teams just to hope that the commentary dialogue gets a little less repetitive.
Overall PES 2018 is a critical step in the right direction but is still being held back by a lack of licensing, this can be minimised by downloading and importing un official option files which can enhance the game cosmetics slightly. However the clunky menu systems are a small price to pay for what is a masterclass on the pitch. With dribbling and player movement significantly enhanced its going to take a sterling effort for FIFA to win the gameplay crown this year.
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