Kicking it as far as they can.
The developers over at Konami have promised new innovations and interesting new features year after year for the PES series, but after going hands on with the PS4 version of the latest entry, it all still feels about the same. Sure they’ve thrown in some new player mechanics and new faces with a more realistic look with facial scanning on a few extra players, but what does that achieve for the overall gameplay and feel of the game? Not a whole lot, sadly.
At the same time, however, PES 2018 isn’t a bad game either. The aesthetic look of and around the stadiums have gone up noticeably. Now, I’ve never actually been to any of these stadiums myself, but if Konami isn’t possibly exaggerating, the stadiums look like they should be 1:1 of their actual self. I played a match as Liverpool FC against Atletico De Madrid in the Camp Nou stadium. I found it very exciting that I could change the time of day to anything I wanted; along with the weather, season, length of grass, and field conditions.
As the lights came on and the camera panned through Camp Nou, I was astounded to see the stadium lit up while it was dark outside the stadium. The stadium seating was packed with onlookers and fans who were no longer flat (like cardboard boxes) and nothing like they had been in previous versions of PES. These fans were much more diverse than I’ve ever seen before. The stadium walls were jam-packed with onlookers; and the architecture of the stadium itself was fantastic. A real sight to behold.
"The coolest feature that isn’t new but rather enhanced is the additional facial scan renderings many of the players received this time around."
Before the game actually started, it was cool to see the players march out from the locker room with various animations. When my formation was decided it was ready for play. A few closeups of a few different characters, of the ball, and the game goes into its standard isometric angle. While surfing through my athletes, switching between angles and corners, many of the controls felt the same: a little stiff, a little unbalanced at times, but they worked for the most part. Apparently, with the new addition of using the body and head a little more sufficiently, the flow felt better. I wouldn’t consider it a complete success just yet as this was just a preview version of the game.
The coolest feature that isn’t new but rather enhanced is the additional facial scan renderings many of the players received this time around. Compared to the FIFA franchise, players in previous PES players were slightly inferior. This time, however, improvements include sweat that flow from their foreheads and cheeks, actual stubble shadows that fall across their face, and a real geometric shape to each curve of their face. The technology that Konami have embraced is phenomenal and should, if anything, skyrocket this franchise to one of the better looking soccer games out there. And though this facial scanning was implemented to a limited extent in the 2017 edition of the game, PES 2018 has gone a lot farther this time around.
"PES 2018 is shaping up to be a good game but it needs to do more before it catches up with EA’s FIFA franchise."
We’ve also been promised some ultra super stars, some of which aren’t even soccer players (I’m looking at you, Usain Bolt); some interesting dynamic weather mechanics that can change during the game at any given time; beautiful stadium conditions and a good amount of stadium options. Walking away from PES 2018, I’m slightly confused on where they’re trying to steer this massive franchise. Konami obviously wants to surprass EA’s FIFA franchise, but brushing over the stadiums with a new coat of paint, or adding in facial features are not enough. They’ve got to focus on the flow of gameplay, the flow of athletes, and the feel of their body contact. PES 2018 is shaping up to be a good game but it needs to do more before it catches up with EA’s FIFA franchise.
This game was previewed on the PlayStation 4.