On the surface, PES 2016 looks practically identical to last years’ iteration, simply diving into the menu system, it is exactly the same as it was last year, and the visuals look the same albeit with some tweaks that have improved things in a minor way. But somehow, Konami has managed to tighten up the gameplay and added deeper mechanics that make a fantastic experience for any football game fan.
This is the second year that Pro Evo has appeared on the glorious FOX engine, and it looks even better than last time, whether it is the better lighting, or the improved shaders, something has made this game stand out visually, and I can’t explain it, perhaps the physics have been improved. During replays, you can’t help but ogle how every touch on the ball causes it to spin naturally, fluidly from one kick to the next. I know that this was also the case in previous games, but this time it juts out like never before. The frame rate is better, no longer do you experience the small hiccups during the replay as it’s all smoothed out and runs brilliantly.
The AI is now far more realistic, not only of you opponents, but your team-mates seem to react better to their surroundings, and will act like their real-life counterparts. Whether that is screaming at a team-mate for shooting at goal instead of passing, or throwing their hands in the air when tripped by an aggressive pass. The transitional animations appear so natural that an on-looker could be fooled in believing that they were watching a football match on TV. You will never play two matches in the same way, and with the difficulty cranked to the highest setting you will undoubtedly end up with sweaty palms after even a short 10 minute round.
The game modes are what you’d expect to find, there aren’t any quirky additions like you’d expect from a Virtua Tennis title, which is a little disappointing. This is a simulation of the beautiful game, and unfortunately this seems to stop the developers from having a little fun with it. The training mode seems practically the same from the last game, so there is little reason to play it. The majority of the tweaks will be found in the Master League, it is even more in depth than ever before, giving you monthly breakdowns on your team, in some cases more than is necessary. However, the football managerial aspect of PES 2016 is far better than any other game to date. No longer do you simply purchase the best players to create the best team, they have to be “compatible” and the game shows you this using a “Cohesion” meter. Putting 2 great players that don’t get along together, or don’t have a similar playing style will have consequences, and this really allows you to dream up scenarios in your mind when certain passes fail, or why a certain player missed the goal opportunity of a lifetime.
Commentary is top-notch as usual, and the tone of the commentators really picks up when a long distant shot finds its way into the back of the net. This may be due to the addition of Peter Drury, but I will leave that for you to decide. Music leaves much to be desired, but that is down to personal taste, I simply muted all the tracks, and you can select which ones you want to hear, and which ones you don’t. The roster isn’t fully licensed as you’d expect, but there are ways around that. This is of course always a disappointment, but with FIFA owning the license for all the players, it’s one issue that Konami can’t really get past without forking out a lot of money.
Everything in this game is better than the last, from load times, AI, physics, graphics and gameplay. But each improvement is minute, and isn’t the sole reason why this year’s PES is the best one yet. I haven’t played FIFA this year, but it will have a tough time beating it! If you skipped PES last year, and are looking to come back to the game, you are in for a treat this year.
This review is based on the PlayStation 4 version of the game.
- Replay Value