Pro Evolution Soccer 2014 (PS3) Review
I have always preferred Konami's Pro Evolution Soccer series over EA's soccer entry. Harkening back to my days as a youth, I spent countless hours glued to the screen playing tight matches against my buddies. The Pro Evo series used to be called Winning Eleven, and it was always vastly superior. The controls, the graphics, and the little nuances always made it the best choice for soccer simulations. The playing field has evened lately, with the EA entry garnering more attention, but my stance remains the same after playing PES 2014. Konami's footy is simply superior. True to its consistent form, PES 2014 delivers beautiful graphics. The players look remarkably real, from their highly detailed faces, to the textures seen on the pitch, this sims graphics are second to none. Most notably, the stadium crowds have come alive and the pitches are absolutely rocking. Detailed banners and active crowds really replicate the authentic soccer atmospheres found in the massive stadiums in Europe. Make a poor tackle and the crowd will let you hear about it. Score a beautiful goal and you will be their hero. The colors are grounded and realistic, all lending to the authenticity of the simulation. The sound effects and music are excellent. Given your taste in music, you will either love or hate the soundtrack. I am a big fan. The sound effects are good, not great. The crowd is rocking and that is a big improvement. Jim Beglin reprises his role as commentator and does his job well. His calls can be repetitive at times, but that is par for the course in sports simulation. It is never as good as live, real commentary, but that is a standard restriction which is prevalent in these types of games. It is no fault of Konami's.
Now on to the game play, the bread and butter of the Pro Evolution Soccer series. I always preferred this series over EA's entry due to the fact that the game played as more of a realistic simulation than an arcade game. Soccer is not and has never been an arcade style game. The game is called the beautiful game for a reason. There are precise passing plays which more often than not do not lead to goals. 10 - 8 games are the exception, not the rule. Scoring on a good team should be exceptionally difficult, not something that happens on ever second possession. This is what draws me to the PES Series and it rings true to this day. Getting close to the net isn't too difficult, but striking the ball directly into the top left corner is rare, and when it happens it is a thing of beauty. Shooting in the game is easy enough, but scoring at will is terribly difficult. You will want to watch your pretty goals over and over again because there is no guarantee that they will be replicated.
The new physics engine creates a sense of realism that was never present before. The characters can dribble through defenses and look like their namesakes while doing so. Dribbling is much tighter than it was before, and that is hefty praise given the fact that I have always found it to be tight and accurate.
The new MASS system is an attempt to bring more physicality to the game, while keeping it within your control. I had some difficulty keeping players under control, and as in years past, the slide tackling system lacks a certain degree of refinement. Red cards can be abundant!
On the whole, PES 2014 is a worthy successor to the series. It delivers the nostalgic game play that has defined the series, while adding minor features which make it even more realistic. The atmosphere is incredible and will have you cartwheeling across the room when you score winners in stoppage time.