Pro Evolution Soccer 2015 is a big leap forward for the series and should stir up FIFA’s players and developers as a real contender for the throne this year. We checked out the PS4 version.
There is perhaps no genre that has more long-running franchises than the sports game genre. NBA Live might be struggling a little, but there is a huge amount of games out there that have seen new iterations every year for the past 10, 15 or even 20 years. There’s EA’s NHL franchise, 2K’s NBA, and then of course you have FIFA and Pro Evolution Soccer.
Today, we’re looking at Pro Evolution Soccer 2015, which is a huge leap forward in more ways than one. For instance, this is Konami’s first next gen version – something which EA did last year. For Pro Evolution Soccer this means that the game’s graphics have been given a good overhaul with tons of attention to detail, even in close ups. Fueled by Konami’s acclaimed Fox engine, the difference between this version and 2014’s edition is immediately obvious.
It’s a shame that that level of quality doesn’t translate to all areas of the game in terms of production values. Konami’s outing is severely lacking in terms of official licenses, which means that entire leagues are sometimes missing from the game. This is also means fewer recognizable chants, stadiums and shirts – which hurts the level of immersion. It’s worth noting that many of today’s stars are still there though, they’re just hiding in teams called “London FC” or another generic name for a team you’re familiar with but isn’t licensed for use in the game.
Pro Evolution Soccer’s greatest strides are not in its presentation though – they’re in the core gameplay, which is great news for fans of the series and FIFA players looking for something a little different. In PES 2015, careful player positioning and passing are key to unraveling an opponent’s defense, which (if successful) provides a great sense of mastering the combination of skill and tactics. Anyone who’s played a recent version of FIFA will realize how different this is from EA’s adrenaline rush full of trick moves and strings of impossible goals.
In a sense, Pro Evolution Soccer rewards those players who have an understanding of how certain passes create spaces on the field. Passing the ball wide creates space for you to make runs, and waiting for the other team to ‘bite’ first allows for some quick passing that will allow you to gain ground quickly. These dynamics are even more interesting when you play a game using the new ‘role control’ mode. Here, you control a group of players instead of whoever is on the ball, and effectively working together between defense, midfield and forward players becomes even more crucial than before.
In multiplayer modes like role control, a good understanding of your fellow player is absolutely necessary. If you start building a play and your run isn’t understood, it’s not just frustrating but will also break apart your lines if the ball is turned over. It’s an effect that can also be seen in 11 vs 11 matches (or in real soccer!), but being able to control an entire line or group of players allows you to make a bigger mark on the game while retaining the need to work together with other players.
Pro Evolution Soccer 2015 isn’t perfect, but its main shortcomings are in its production values and not in its core gameplay. If it had been the other way around we’d be looking at a completely different story, but in its current form PES 2015 is already a major contender for this year’s soccer throne. We’re wondering what this will mean for next year’s release and if Konami will dare to pick FIFA’s launch window for the 2016 edition. Let the rivalry begin anew!