PES 2016 Review

Dan Webb

PES 2015 was a revelation. After so many years out in the cold, constantly being outdone by its heavyweight opponent – and once inferior product – FIFA, it ignited the rivalry and turned up the heat in the genre, possibly like never before. FIFA might not have been at the top of its game last year, but EA will surely come back fighting, so PES 2016 needs to firing on all cylinders. Well, thankfully, it is. Okay, not all cylinders, but most of them.

On the pitch, PES 2016 is as good as PES has ever been. PES 2015 was a solid foundation, and PES 2016 has just built on top of those sturdy foundations. It’s nothing too groundbreaking over 2015, but it’s the subtle touches that make all the difference. Konami might be all about praising the improvements made to the 'advanced collision system', which yes, might be great, but it’s the fluidity of it all that's the real clincher.


That fluidity comes around as a consequence of having an unbelievable amount of control over the ball and the player. Not only that, but the fact that there are no real canned animations lends each player their own distinct individuality. A big part of that is the superb animation system. Whether that’s the audacious flicks and touches you’ll see, players looking up before making passes, or something simple like a player rolling the ball out of their feet with their studs, it all adds to the spectacle of the event.

It’s not perfect, by any stretch of the imagination. For instance, the referees seem oddly lenient, allowing for blatant fouls to not only go unpunished, but to go unchallenged. The shooting seems to have lost its fizz as well, with shots feeling slightly more feeble than last year. On top of that, the goalkeepers can’t catch for shit. They punch away shots far too often.

In terms of presentation, PES really needs to be reworked from the ground up, from the UI to the menus. We’ve almost got used to it over the years, but Konami really needs to do better here. It’s muddled and messy, which is a direct contrast to what the game delivers on the pitch.

The commentary isn’t great either, whether you’re talking about its repetition or the over-excitable Peter Dury, it’s all a bit frustrating. If I hear Jim Beglin utter the words “sigh of relief” again, I’m going to brain him. On top of that, unless you’re a world beater too, like Messi or Ronaldo, don’t expect much from their likeness. Sure, some look okay, but others look like Konami has clicked the random player generator button.

You could say that the licenses are still an issue too, but Konami seems to be getting more and more with every iteration. Let’s face it, you’re not playing PES for the licenses – or lack thereof – or the glamour side of it. You’re playing it for the gameplay itself, which is right on the money.

But Dan, what about the modes and all that jazz? Well, it’s the same fare here, whether you’re talking exhibitions, the Champions League, etc. Of course, the core of the game comes from the online, the Master League and the FUT-wannabe, myClubs. From a Master League perspective, it’s still as ace as ever, especially now with its revamped transfer system. You’ll be building your dream club in no time whatsoever. Wonderful stuff.

An incredibly rare moment of greatness from a keeper.

From a myClubs perspective, PES 2016 has moved on, as you’d expect. Not leaps and bounds, no, but it’s enough to notice. Players within your team now improve thanks to their experience on the pitch, and furthermore, you can assign other players as 'trainers' to significantly help another player – the more they share similarities with their training buddy, the more they improve. It’s still effectively a poor man’s Ultimate Team, and lacks the pizzazz that its competitor’s mode has, but it’s getting better, year on year, that’s for sure.

While I might have had more than a few complaints with the online last year, this year’s is just a pure delight. It’s as responsive as playing with your mate sat next to you on the couch, which is as big a compliment as I can pay. Whether online divisons, online competitions or even the chaotic Team Play is your fancy, then you should be in good stead here to face-off against the legion of other PES fans around the world as if they were sat right next to you.

As for the achievements… the less said about them, the better. They’re effectively the same as last year. Boring, uninspired, insipid... that’s all you really need to know.

When’s all said and done though, PES 2016 delivers where it matters most: on the pitch. We can talk all day about its complicated menus, its muddled UI, its lack of licenses, repetitive commentary and the like, but the actual football is right on the money. Had it not been for the can’t catch a cold keepers, PES 2016 could possibly have been the greatest football game in recent memory. Your move, FIFA.


The audio is… well, it’s there. The menu music is a hell of a lot better than years gone by, but not perfect down to a small selection. Then there’s the commentary, which is okay to start with but gets repetitive quickly. Oh, and sometimes really out of context and far too exciteable. “STURRIDGE!” Drury will scream excitedly, for a soft header from 15 yards out.

The visuals are all over the place. Some of the players look fantastic, some look like the dev team have never even seen them before. “Yeah, use “Generic Footballer 101 for that player”… sounds about right. The crowds look a bit naff too.

It’s probably the best it’s ever been on the pitch. Responsive, fluid and beautiful, the only problem is its flappy keepers who have a tendency to punch.

The menus are still clunky and the UI unintuitive, but the game modes are solid as a package. Master League is great, as always, and myClub gets stronger with each iteration, but still pales in comparison to FIFA’s Ultimate Team.

Terrible. Again.

PES 2016 is undoubtedly a great football game, as good as it’s been in years. Sure, it’s better on the pitch than PES 2015, but it’s let down somewhat by some cavalier keepers who couldn’t catch a cold.

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