With the game now having been out for a few months, I think worth putting my thoughts down somewhere about it properly, with enough time that the hype for a new game as died down, and long enough that the anger from awful release has died down. For simplicity I'll approaching this in 3 sections, the Good parts of the game, the working, but could be improved and the parts that are just flat out bad and need to be rebuilt. For the sake of comparison I will at times refer to the game's competitor, FIFA 16, but only when needed. This is written from an offline only perspective.

Let's start with the Good, for positivity and all that:

- Fluidity of gameplay: The players move nicely, the passing feels nice, the ball control feels nice, the game in general works very well in this regard and it's arguably it's biggest strength.

- Collision Engine: This would be good for something that has been used for years, but as a first since they implemented it release it's worked beautifully. There's the occasional odd looking moment if you go into the replay, but for the most part it looks natural and adds a weight that was missing form the last game in the series.

PES 2016

- Real Player faces: Absolutely outstanding, and they have an amazing selection of players. Some of the older ones still in use (i.e. some Barcelona players) are looking a bit dated compared to the more recent ones, but overall they look amazing, and put FIFA to shame, particularly in scope of players. FIFA has players like Tom Ince and Jason Shackell with real faces, but players like Martial, Depay, Berardi, Kovacic, and numerous others still have generic faces. In particular having lots of real player faces for up and coming stars helps the longevity of the Master League experience.

- Master League Presentation: Something I didn't expect, but ultimately worked out really quite well. I in particular like that media items actually generate with pictures from the last match, pictures of the players in kit and such. With the number of amazing player faces in the game, this in particular looks brilliant for top teams.

- The Keepers: This is something that will be controversial. The keepers in PES 2016 are actually quite well balanced though, they move like a person, not the shotgun supermen of FIFA. This gives the game more realism in and about goal, and unlike in FIFA they're actually a player and not bandaid for poor AI and design. Like real keepers they can have a poor game, or have an amazing one, and they rarely have the completely brain explosion you'd see in FIFA. They also save what they should (weak long range efforts), but don't what they shouldn't (a forward given the whole goal to aim at from the penalty spot under no pressure). There's the odd thing here and there they could improve with, but they generally are good and add to the variance and realism of the goals you can get in game.

- Player Development: Works well at this time, players develop quite naturally, the breakthroughs work well and are an interesting squad dilemma, the game overall works really nicely in this regard. This of course builds into...

- Squad roles: They are an interesting concept and quite well implemented. The way that they allow older more experienced players to gain more value, even in their decline is quite an interesting way of doing it, and it does give the squad creation and selection an interesting dynamic. Sadly that is backed up by the other long term systems in Master League as discussed below.

Works, but needs work

- Shooting: The shooting still tends to be a bit too accurate at times, even for not particularly great players. It appears part of the issue people blame keepers for is that shooting is a bit too accurate, and whilst you'd generally not expect actual keepers to save those shots (you might expect FIFA shotgun keepers, boy are those animations odd), if too many goals start going in, and PES 2016 can and does have a few blowouts. Generally people start blaming the keeper, and not the fact that Johnny McStrikerface has had 4 half chances and just slid that ball smoothly into the postage stamp on each occasion. It looks nice, but it needs some balancing in the future.

- Balance to player reactions: Players have a tendency to stumble and become a bit unresponsive, this isn't such a bad thing on it's own though. Them stumbling and being incapable of just firing off in a different direction instantly isn't a bad thing, they being completely uncontrollable during it arguably is. It adds an interesting balance, but there needs to be some means to get the player to do something while this is happening, even a desperate falling flailing of the boot at the ball. Adding such desperation elements could change the way that defending works for future versions, and importantly, the risk of fouls from this could also help improve the realism in this regard.

- Celebrations: Looks tacked on, looks outright bizarre at times. Not the most important feature, but it just comes across as something they implemented late in development because they were told to. Needs more variation, needs to actually match up between the pitch and the silly cutscenes better.

- The difficulty: The difficulty of the game saturates far too quickly, and it becomes too easy to demolish the AI at higher levels. The difference between Top Player and Superstar can be very minor, and as previous mentioned blowouts can and do happen at even the highest difficulties. Whilst many players won't have difficulties with this, for those who want to play offline and find the AI to get a bit easy it would be nice to see another difficulty level beyond what's there added in the future.

- Option files: Something needs to be done in this regard in the future. What I don't get is if we can have image importing why we can't have a system that reads instructions for the game to do it all automatically from a notepad file or something. Maybe release a utility for the PC version prior to release to allow that editing to be done ahead of time for PC and PS4 (and ideally the Xbone if it's possible in the future) and have that file basically be instructions for what the game puts where, what colours, construct faces and players etc. That would get around not being able to share the files themselves, and we already know Sony is at least okay with them importing files.

The Bad

- The AI fouls: Whilst they do foul the player more since more recent patches, they still don't at reasonable levels, and they almost never concede a penalty. The AI should give away fouls at some point, they shouldn't be perfect all the time. The odd thing is that in "rival games" they tend to try and break your legs and you do see more yellows and the occasional red, but still almost never penalties. Some have blamed the foul system itself, but it generally works quite, particularly between people.

- Master League Transfers: I like the concept of what they've done with the negotiations, I like the ideas behind it, but the actual decisions on how much players go for, who wants them, etc. is, to be blunt about it, completely and unforgivably awful. I don't know another way of putting it. Players' value seems to be set almost entirely on overall, which means that a young superstar is valued at around the same as a 35 year old journeyman the same age. If I've got the choice between a 75 rated 17 year old Odegaard and a 75 rated 37 year old has been, you'd be crazy to pick the has been. What's more is that the values for any and all players are just out of whack, the whole financial model just needs to be torn down and rebuilt from the ground up.

- AI squad building: The above of course links into this, but it's worth saying that having built a superteam thanks to the awful transfer system, you're now facing the all power Real Madrid, with two 74 rated centrebacks because they sold all their goods ones and never thought to replace them with the 40p they received for them. Adding to that...

- The contract negotiations: Why does pretty much every player start with less than a year on their contract? The system in place is annoying at best, but this just comes across as bizarre. I don't mind the concept, but the implementation of this just needs to be rebuilt.

- The regens: Some people like them, some people don't, but the simple point is we need options and a more fluid way of them appearing. Right now you can potentially see a 90+ rated Totti within 5 years, and they tend to blow the real youngsters out of the water very quickly. There tends to be 4-5+ 75+ rated 16 year olds after the first 1 or 2 regen productions. At the very least I'd hope for some rebalancing in the future, as well as the option for randomly generated names, faces and such those that want them.

- The commentary: Awful, just completely and totally awful. I have no other way to describe it. Thankfully, you can mute that rubbish though.

- Replay angles: Yes game, I enjoy watching the post while the ball is meant to be powering past a different part of the goal.

I've probably missed somethings, but that's just my thoughts on the game after this time. If you want to add more, please fill the comment area.

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General Information

Platform(s): Xbox One, PS4, Xbox 360, PS3, PC
Publisher(s): Konami
Developer(s): PES Productions
Genres: Sports
Themes: Soccer
Release Date: 2015-09-15

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