After last year’s disappointing edition of Konami’s football series; the developers of Pro Evolution Soccer 2015 decided to completely overhaul the entire game and move to a new game engine. We have seen the FOX engine in action on two games now, Metal Gear Ground Zeroes and P.T. and suffice to say we were stunned with the visuals on both games. So when we heard Pro Evolution Soccer 2015 would also be running on the glorious new engine we were preparing ourselves for something special.
Usually sports games are iterative, and this is also the case with PES 2015, apart from the new graphics engine. Over 1000 real life players have been recreated in the engine and not only their likeness, the developer claims that even their emotions have been simulated so that their digital counterpart will react to fouls and goals in a similar fashion to the real life player. The lighting is simply stunning, with the real time shadows adding a level of realism rarely seen before in the series. However, at times it can look hyper realistic, with some things looking a little too bright or out of place. The players are detailed, but Konami has not stopped there, the 13 stadiums are also beautifully detailed, although the pitch itself is simply a flat grass texture, but it still seems to work well together. The spectators are possibly the most realistic crowd I have ever seen in a sports game, everyone is modelled in 3D and have unique animations that help them all blend in seamlessly. No longer will you see the same animation across a crowd dozens of times over.
So, we have established that it looks great, but more importantly does it play great? Well, it does, it really does. Pro Evolustion Soccer is back on form, and it still has all the nuance you want to see in this multi-tiered game. You can pick it up and play, or you can dig through the near endless small manoeuvres and skills to master it and play at the highest level. The gameplay mechanics are well-designed meaning both amateur and professional players will be able to have fun with it. There are five difficulty settings to choose from which give you all the challenge you want, and at the highest “Super Star” setting I found it hard to distinguish the AI from a real life player. The speedy passes and the exploitation of my mistakes was scarily realistic.
Animation has always taken priority in the Pro Evo games, and this year is no exception, with even greater animation. Not only do players move the way they should, you can now expect more player to player collisions. Also, don’t expect to be able to run through players; 2 players sprinting at each other will both fall down in a realistic manner. Ball control has been improved too, especially with penalties, free kicks and corners. Now you have full control of the direction and curve to the ball, with the on-screen guides more accurately display what the ball will do when you kick it. So the guess work has all but gone and you can truly feel like a professional footballer, although this does depend on a player’s statistics. So the better the player is at free kicks in real life the better and easier he will be to control in the game.