PES 2017 Review

Richard Walker

Since PES 2015, Konami's flagship footie series has been enjoying something of a renaissance; an ascension back to the good old days of vintage Pro Evo; accessible, intuitive, and about as close to an actual simulation of the beautiful game as it's possible to get. PES 2017 represents the pinnacle of that rise, feeling like the best realisation of digital footie yet. While there's still a relative dearth of proper football licenses in the game, on the pitch – where it really matters – PES is firing on all cylinders this year, with some new features that make for a fluid and remarkably gratifying game of football.

What's new this year then? Adaptive AI is the big banner feature, ensuring your team reacts realistically to certain scenarios during a match, meaning you're surrounded by smarter teammates that adapt to situations as they develop. It's in the name, really, and it all works remarkably well, adjusting the formation, pushing out wing backs if they need to go wider or putting extra markers into space if required, for example. There's a natural ebb and flow to matches too that feels right on the money, context-sensitive passing play in particular much-improved compared to previous efforts.

Put your shirt back on Neymar. You'll catch your death!

You need only play the Skill Games in the Training menu to realise how slick PES 2017 is, its close control allowing for precision dribbling and shooting, while there's still more than ample scope to charge into the box and hammer home a 50-yard screamer. Deft touches and through balls almost invariably hit their mark too if properly orchestrated, making for one of the least frustrating football games you're ever likely to play. PES 2017 just feels completely 'right'.

Simply put, all of the systems and mechanics are perfectly in place, meaning you're free to simply get on with playing a match without having to worry about the AI screwing you over. The sense of physicality in tackles and aerial challenges is also spot on, and even the crappy goalies from PES 2016 have been addressed. In fact, there are so few foibles and quirks rearing their head to ruin the experience for you that we had to really, heavily scrutinise the game for something wrong. PES 2017 is immediate, responsive, boasting enough subtlety and depth for purists, while remaining inviting for absolutely anyone.

Then there's the usual array of modes to indulge in, with Master League still as absorbing as ever, putting you into the coach's shoes at the club of your choice. You'll negotiate transfer deals, manage players' salaries, keep the team spirit up and everyone happy, and hopefully win matches, titles and ultimately the league in the process. Master League is still arguably PES 2017's best mode and the one I find myself always making a beeline towards as soon as I fire up the game each year. It's great. And so too is myClub.

PES 2017's myClub is once again Konami's answer to FIFA Ultimate Team, tasking you with building your squad and then pitting it against other players online or the offline COM AI. One of PES' most in-depth modes, myClub remains enjoyable and involving, as you work your way through your division, while striving to boost your team's chemistry and acquiring other players as you go. During matches and activities in myClub's various menus, you'll earn GP and coins, the latter of which can be used to purchase players and such. And online, myClub works exceedingly well, which is true of the rest of PES 2017's online experience. It's smooth, stable, and matchmaking is quick.

Become a Legend rounds out things, enabling you to take up the mantle of any existing player or your own created footballer, seeing your fledgling career grow as you make a name for yourself with whatever team you end up playing for. Of course, there are leagues and the mainstay UEFA Europa and Champions Leagues stuff to delve into too, which are great and go to show what Konami can do when given the proper licenses. Every licensed team and stadium is incredibly authentic, as is the TV broadcast-style presentation, marred only by the slightly improved but still piss poor commentary from returnees Peter Drury and Jim Beglin.

Get 'im! Trip 'im! Foul 'im!

While the lack of licenses in PES 2017 remains a bugbear, especially in the paltry two licensed Premier League teams available, Konami has managed to bag some good stuff this year, with Chilean, Brazilian, Italian, German and Dutch squads all getting a look in, among a few cherry-picked from other international leagues. But as ever, it's worth reiterating that most of us play PES for how it performs where it really counts; not for the licenses. If that's the only thing that matters to you, then by all means, pick up a copy of FIFA instead.

PES 2017 isn't perfect by any means. Referees are still a bit too lenient when it comes to bone-crunching slide tackles that would put most players in A&E, and sometimes (albeit very rarely) players can display slightly erratic behaviour. Oh, and the achievements are still a load of old toss too. Seriously, Konami. Isn't it about time for a new list by now? PES 2017's is the same old one we've had for the past few years, with a couple of tweaks here and there. In short, it sucks.

Thankfully, PES 2017 doesn't suck. It's easily Konami's best Pro Evo game since PES 2014 represented a depressing nadir for the series. Full marks then to the team for pulling the franchise up by its bootstraps and returning it to footballing supremacy; PES 2017 is simply brilliant and the greatest iteration in the series since its halcyon glory days of old.

PES 2017

Continuing to go from strength to strength, PES 2017 is the zenith for Konami's stellar footie series, representing all of the pieces falling into place to create on-the-pitch nirvana. There are some extremely minor flaws, but all in all, PES 2017 is wonderful.

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With about ten or so songs for the menu, expect to get them stuck in your head as they're on a constant loop. As for this year's commentary, it's a very very marginal improvement, but still total arse.


PES 2017 looks genuinely impressive, as the Fox Engine manages to once again provide some lovely visuals. The atmosphere in the big stadiums is amazing and the majority of the player likenesses are superb. Some of the lesser names' likenesses are a bit shit though.


A truly fantastic representation of the beautiful game, PES 2017 feels sublime. Passing play is excellent and the physicality during challenges is also well-realised. World class.


Pro Evo's core modes return in full force and the front end is pretty darn user-friendly. It's not the most slickly-presented package, but it's all there and it's all brill.


No, Konami. Just no. You're not getting away with this again! The same crappy list for another year on the trot. Just stop it, already.

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