Pro Evolution Soccer 2017 Review

PES 2017 is the ultimate package for the most realistic footballing experience.

By RON, Posted 24 Sep 2016

Football is not just a sport, it’s a global language. To all the football fans around the world, both FIFA and PES have been two renowned names for many years. Each year these two games compete with each other to win the hearts of these many fans. Last year, while reviewing PES 2016, I mentioned that it’s close to being one of the best football simulation ever. With the release of PES 2017, Konami has just confirmed my statement. PES 2017 has brought revolution to football simulation with its realistic gameplay experience and improvements in its many features. While FIFA 17 released earliest this week, I had to wait to compare both the games and say that PES 2017 has finally surpassed FIFA. What an incredible journey this is has been for the Pro Evolution Soccer series since 2001.

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If you have been playing PES over the past few years the improvements made in the gameplay will immediately come to your attention. The pace of the game feels just about right and so do the movements and reactions of each footballer. Konami has improved every aspect of the gameplay a bit; from receiving the ball, to dribbling, passing and scoring goals. Footballers varying in attributes perform differently in all these aspects. Individual players are now more and more like their real selves as well. The way Bastian Schweinsteiger dribbles on a football pitch in real life, or Antoine Griezmann receives a long pass, turns and take a shot towards the opposition’s keeper, is the same in PES 2017. And the same can be said about the most renowned footballers. It’s massively impressive how such an experience can be put into a simulation. Unlike last year, your fast paced winger or striker can’t just run past the opposition defenders and score goals, but performs in a more realistic way. Those who are used to fast pace gameplay might have difficulties adjusting with PES 2017, because this year, it’s more about having the patience, build, implementing the gameplay strategies and mostly realizing how football is played on a real life pitch.

The most impressive change this year is the opposition’s AI. It’s undeniable that you get the feeling of playing against a real human opponent most of the time. The opposition’s AI is more intelligent this year, and it not only adjusts its gameplay strategies based on the situation, but also adjusts the pace of their movement. If a goal down in the second half, the opposition moves the ball faster, plays longer passes or higher balls, and also impressively makes substitutions based on fatigue. The AI goalkeeper is also an improvement this year, and will surely challenge gamers in most occasions when playing in higher difficulty modes. In 2016, even at the World Class or Top Player mode, goalkeepers were miserable, not being able to react according to your shots, or make the simplest of saves, and even passing towards a player knowing that you have the 100% chance of winning the ball. This year keepers know what they are doing and when to make longer or shorter passes. These improvements sure do make the gameplay experience testing, but there’s where the joy of football lies.

Feature wise, PES is almost the same game every year. It’s however, not a matter to complain, as there’s nothing much to add to it. But still, there are some tweaks here and there to make this a bit livelier. myClub has a new feature where you can bid for scouts, and sell your scouts too. How this bidding is controlled is still a mystery, but it’s pretty effective if you’re trying to sign specific players for your squad. Speaking of myClub, last year Konami made it a free to play feature which has been a massive hit. If you’re not playing PES yet, I suggest you try out this feature. To those who are new, myClub is a place where you manage your own club and build it from scratch. From hiring a manager, signing players, training them, there are tons of activities to keep you busy for a long time. Speaking of signing players, in PES 2017 myClub it’s utterly frustrating. There are five types of footballers presented by white/copper/silver/gold/black balls that can be signed through regular/top/special scouts. Black ball footballers are the super stars while white ball represents the average ones. During the time of signing footballers, players go through a lottery system where these colored balls circles in pace and after you press a button the circling stops the you get the ball that stops in the spotlight. In most cases being able to sign a black ball footballer is impossible, because unlike last year, in PES 2017 you can’t see the complete circle of the ball but only a portion of it. So judging the location of black balls during fast circling is quite difficult. However, there are top and special agents who offer numbers of black ball footballers, and each cost 10,000 GP (game points) which is a lot compared to the GP players get to earn though playing this game. However, the myClub store offers you the option to purchase Coins, which are equivalent to GP, with real money and you can try as many of these top/special agents to sign more star footballers for your squad. Last year Konami introduced a more RPG-like feel for myClub where footballers earn points after each match and grow their levels. Players can also convert footballers from their squad into trainers; mostly those whom they aren’t using anymore and train younger or newly signed footballers. This year players will find special trainers who give a massive 500-1000 point’s boost for each player, increasing up to 4-5 levels depending on the footballers is trained.

Building a squad in myClub does not just require patience and time, but gameplay skills too, because players must win matches to earn GP and uphold the micromanagement. Those who find such feature difficult can try out the Master League, where you take the role of a manager of a club and your task is to make your club number one in the world rank by winning trophies and the Champions League. And at the same time you are able to manage a country team simultaneously.  Master League this year, is pretty much unchanged except for its interface. It will be interesting to see managers facing the press and replying to their questions in a conference in a future PES release. Perhaps this is something left for Konami to introduce in this feature of PES series. However, in Master League, players don’t have to worry about the cash flow as it’s been granted by the AI owners of the club, while their only job is to manage and build up the team. One simple change noticeable this year is the last day of transfer day. Unlike before, this year the transfer deadline day progresses in hours. Each hour you get a notification if there are pending transfer issues.

myClub and Master League both requires the players to pay significant amount of attention to the squad members, specially their developments. Players who find managing teams a complicated task, can take the role of single player in Become A Legend mode. In this mode players either create a new footballer or pick an existing footballer from any available team. In Become A Legend (BAL) the player’s task is to become the ultimate footballer of the world and win as many individual trophies as possible from different leagues across the world. However, to win the World Player of the Year, a player must become the MVP (Most Valuable Player) in the Champions League. During each season, players can train their footballer to increase their abilities and at the same time learn new skills too. This requires a significant amount of time to acquire all the skills for any footballer, so it’s best to stick to the ones that suit your playing style. What felt missing from Become A Legend that players earnings don’t make any sense. There could be stores from where players can buy new boots or accessories to boost their performance, or somewhere they can spend their money to have more activities. This can break the monotonousness when playing throughout a year.

Other than these three special gameplay modes, there are Divisions and Division SIM features. In Divisions players play against human opponents online in 12 leagues of 10 matches each, totaling 120 matches. Once they reached the final league, players can keep playing to avoid being relegated, while different leagues require certain number of points for promotion. In Division SIM this same system is done in managerial mode. Players don’t get to control the gameplay, being only able to adjust the squad and their tactics. In Division SIM matches it’s wise to keep a higher team spirit, because no matter how many super star footballers are in the squad, team spirit matters the most. This applies not just against the AI. Team spirit is an important aspect when playing online against human opponent as well. Speaking of playing online, players can now forget about their experience from the PES 2016. In PES 2017 the online is much better. There are still improvements that can be made, but it’s considerably better this year as there are no sudden disconnection, and streaming is considerably better. Anyway, both types of Divisions are somewhat challenging. So, to take a breather, players can spend time playing other modes such as Quick Matches or matches against COM or Versus with friends. However, from myClub to Division the gameplay remains the same and it’s always very challenging.

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Other than gameplay, graphically PES 2017 has made several improvements. Footballers look more realistic compared to their real selves. Pitches don’t look too glossy, and if you’re playing in the South American leagues, some of the stadiums looks astonishingly real and lively. Weather conditions too have improved, and their effects on the pitch can actually be felt. In general, the stadium crowd simulation or pitch sideline entities haven’t really improved much compared to the past games. The commentary by Peter Drury and Jim Beglin has improvements too. Now they talk about new signings in Master League and myClub and even mention if you leave them out of the squad for a match. When you sign a new manager in myClub they mention that too. In BAL they talk about your footballer’s development at the beginning of the season. During the gameplay they, sometime, criticize your tactics and suggest what could’ve changed the situation, especially when you aren’t scoring goals. What feels missing from the commentary is that they don’t talk about your performance from the last matches or about your history when playing against an opponent for the second or third time. This could’ve been a more realistic addition to the commentary. All these minor issues are ignorable but the lack of license with the major teams isn’t. This issue has been bothering PES fans for a while now and Konami can’t seem to do anything about it. This year Konami announced official partnerships with Barcelona, Dortmund and Liverpool and new licensed teams are Arsenal and Atletico Madrid, alongside the France and Germany national teams. On the other hand, their licenses with Juventus, Bayern Munich, Manchester United and Real Madrid are not there anymore which is sure to be a big disappointment for the fans. Whenever playing, I usually choose Manchester United and Real Madrid and both the teams don’t have their real names in PES 2017.

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Despite the lack of licensing, Pro Evolution Soccer 2017 brings nothing but sheer joy to players. Fans of this series now can be more confident that PES is getting better than FIFA, and if improvements like these keep taking place every year, there won’t be any more competition left between these two games. FIFA 17 has thrown a story mode to bring something new to the plate, but the core will always remain the gameplay, while PES is the ultimate package for the most realistic footballing experience. PES 2017 is undoubtedly the best football situation I’ve ever experienced so far.

Sarwar Ron, NoobFeed
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General Information

Platform(s): PC, PS4, Xbox One, Xbox 360, PS3
Publisher(s): Konami
Developer(s): Konami
Genres: Sports
Themes: Soccer
Release Date: 2016-10-30

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