PES 2016 now all action and goals galore

Screenshot of Pro Evolution Football 2016, a football simulation game.
Photo: Konami

This year marks the 20th anniversary of the Pro Evolution Football (PES) series.

PES lovers have always liked to boast about how realistic its gameplay is and scoff at the Fifa series' all-action arcade style.

Well, the tables have turned this year.

This year's Fifa 16 has become more like the Italian Serie A, which is all about movement and tactics.

On the other hand, PES 2016 is the English Premier League - all action and goals galore.

The gameplay now flows faster than in previous versions.

A pass no longer takes an eternity to reach a teammate. You can play "tiki-taka" style, or short passing and movement, and pass around your opponents all you want.

One killer through pass to an offside-beating striker and it is a certain goal.

It is now so much easier to score a goal, and from any position. I scored by striking from outside the penalty box. I scored by turning in a pass in the six-yard box.

And for the first time in a PES game, I scored from a cross whipped in by a winger. I cannot even manage that on Fifa 16 any more.

As if to counter this new goal-scoring ease, the linesman will flag offside even when your player is only a hair's breadth ahead of the last defender. And the referee does not seem to blow the whistle for any fouls except for the most blatant ones, just like in the English Premier League.

I found that scoring first can make it easier to win a match. Once a team starts scoring, it seems to gather momentum rapidly.

I played the same team twice at the same difficulty level with different results - lost 3-1 and won 5-1. I won when I scored first.

You need a good understanding of the game to do well. Changing formation and tactics to counter your opponent's style of play helps immensely. For example, using the 5-3-2 formation with overlapping full backs takes advantage of the exposed flanks a team playing a diamond 4-5-1 formation might have.

But the game's menu interface remains a mess and the monotone soundtrack is hardly inspiring. The commentary is laughable at times; a misplaced pass might be described as a wayward shot.

The graphics are superb, with the players' faces realistically reproduced. Jerseys are equally true-to-life, but only those that are licensed.

This point matters because PES 2016 continues to lack the rich licensing of Fifa. So, my supported Liverpool team continues to be called Merseyside Red and has a really ugly kit.

Furthermore, team rosters are not updated. While it is great to still have Steven Gerrard and Raheem Sterling in my Liverpool side, the realism is just lacking.

On the bright side, you can change the names of players, teams and managers to the correct ones. There are also fan-made kits and team badges that you can replace, but you have to do it one by one. It is an arduous process, to say the least.

The PES 2016 has the licences for continental competitions that Fifa 16 lacks, such as the Uefa Champions League and Copa Libertadores. So, I can enter Liverpool in the Champions League.

There is also another thing that PES 2016 does better than Fifa 16. The celebrations after scoring a goal are more authentic.

Mario Balotelli will do his folded arms pose, while Francesco Totti will whip out an iPhone to take a selfie. But you do not get the match ball after you score a hat-trick.

9/10

RATING

PRICE: $75 (PC), $79.90 (PS4, version tested), $72.40 (Xbox One)
GENRE: Football simulation


This article was first published on October 15, 2015.
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