Gamescom 2014: PES 2015 Hands-on Preview - Back On Form?
Written Thursday, August 21, 2014 By Lee AbrahamsView author's profile
Remember when PES was the king of the footballing world and FIFA was the laughing stock? How times have changed and it seems that, year after year, we hear the same noises from Konami about how the next game is going back to the series' roots and is going to be the one that gets them back on track. It’s never quite happened but maybe this year will be Konami's chance to shine, certainly after speaking to the team and getting some hands-on time with the game there's more cause for optimism than ever before.
First things first, what’s new? There has been a rejig in terms on the online Master League which has now become myClub, the PES answer to Ultimate Team. Only transactions will now depend on the manager you have in place and the calibre of agent you decide to hire. Want to hire Bale and Ronaldo? Then you’d better have a top agent to negotiate their capture. However, it was also mentioned that you would need to use earned in-game currency to make purchases (a la Ultimate Team coins) or even use the dreaded micro-transactions to snap up the players you truly want. Obviously Ultimate Team is a massive draw for FIFA so having something similar in PES makes a lot of sense.
You’ll also have a raft of the usual modes, including Master League, Champions League, Online Leagues and so on. In a first for the series Konami has also drafted in secondary leagues for top countries, so I can finally play as Sheffield Wednesday and get thrashed on PES too. JUST LIKE THE REAL THING! The team hopes that having more leagues, and the chances of promotion/relegation will mean players have more accessibility than ever before. It also helps that the PES team is planning live weekly updates to constantly monitor players abilities, form and injuries – so each team will accurately reflect their real life counterparts rather than having static abilities. You can also take part in Role Control, a unique co-op mode that sees you in charge of either defence/midfield/attack though we didn’t get to give it a go sadly.
All of which is great, but it's arguably still some level below the complete barrage of modes, options and official teams that FIFA still brings to the table. PES is certainly getting closer, and the real meat and drink comes down to how well the game plays and, on that front, things are also looking up. As ever the PES 2015 looked great, and players have been accurately modelled on the real thing and exhibit all of the individual skills and movements that you'd expect. But how does it feel?
Straight away the game plays like it used to and it’s strange to think that the game had to go back a few years to look and play like you would expect a good football game should do. Players feel more responsive and a little faster than they have in recent times, a far cry from the sluggish tanks they seemed to have become. The best updates though, for us, come in the attacking third as shooting feels far more fluid and instinctive. For the last couple of years it seemed like you had to press shoot and then wait an age for a feeble effort to drift towards goal. Now you can take snapshots, long range piledrivers and sweet volleys without forever feeling like you would get dispossessed before the game bothered to react.
To counter this, the goalkeepers have also been given a makeover. In the past, PES always seemed to have a perpetual sweet spot where you could score every time. Over the course of a few games the keepers were exemplary, with finger tip saves, lovely one-on-one shutdowns and, when we played as Germany, Neuer even indulged in his famous sweeper keeper moment as he raced from goal to cut out a through ball outside the box. You can still score if you work the right chance, but keepers certainly feel better balanced and those 50/50 moments genuinely feel just like that.
As a complete package PES 2015 still lags behind FIFA, but on the pitch, and having played both games, it may have finally found the right blend to finally offer some competition. It's been a while since I played PES with the fervour that I used to, but this might be the year that I finally give it a proper run out again. If you want to give the game a go for yourself then the demo will be available from September 17th and Konami is hoping to prove to long term fans that this year they are back in the big time.
PES 2015 launches on November 23rd, a little later than usual, as the team wanted to aim for a bit of extra time to polish the game. Oh, and we did ask about an upgrade to the rather dubious commentary that has been present for the last few years. “We’ll be working on that for next year.” Well, one thing at a time, I guess.