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Shocking embarrassing comprehensive failure from Konami
on 28 September 2013
If you read my previous reviews on PES you'll understand that I am a hands up "fanboy" of Pro Evo. Like many others, I have played the series since the ISS days, and I have always had a bit of respect for a franchise which holds up so well against the licence saturated FIFA series.
Well anyway - on to my review. And boy, where to start?
The menus for PES2014 are garish, ugly, clumsy, slow and have a totally pointless 'mouse pointer' which deepens the annoyance of using them. It is a design disaster - honestly the worst user interface of any 360 game I have played. I have literally no idea how a games company could approve such a completely awful farce of a design like this. An unmitigated failure. And sadly it get worse.
The 'upgraded' look of the players, stadiums etc. The stadiums look nice, and the strips look fine - but I'm not going to pretend I could see that much of a difference. Assuming that future patches will correct faces (lets hope so)is going to be required, because the standard faces are a joke. Even the unlicenced faces of old usually bore a passable resemblance to the real players without resorting to patches, but the unlicenced faces in 2014 are a horrific collection of scary clones - I mean you have to go back a long way to see players who were all this identical. Plasticky blank generic faces, right out of a Sci-Fi B Movie script. The animation of the players is still ok, but all the hype about the improvements is simply an exagerration. It is not a leap forward, and is not the saving grace of the game - oh no...
I could forgive a reduced number of stadiums, and a reduced number of licences - after all in the early days it did feel as if PES was almost completely unlicenced - but we could always overlook those deficiencies given the 'core', the 'heart', the 'SOUL' of Pro Evo was very much the main attraction. And that is what I have previously referred to as the "on pitch action".
ON PITCH ACTION.
PES used to be able to allow you to get on the pitch, tweak the tactics, make a couple of subs and win games by thinking your way to victory as much as playing your way to victory. When it worked, it worked really well.
Now without resorting to a swear-word infused rant (which is how I feel) I will simply say that the new FOX engine, which powers the game, ruins that classic 'PES feel' and must be the worst tested product in the history of gaming. It clearly cannot keep up with the demands of the movement and pace of the 22 players, the ball and the advertising boards, and it CANNOT have been tested to the point where the developer thought "this is acceptable". It is not acceptable - it is a massive, unforgivable point of failure, and the game should never have been released in this state. Konami should have bitten the bullet and delayed for a Xmas release at the very latest. The game would still have sold, and they just might have had a chance to iron out the blatant performance issues of the in-game speed, lag times and overall feel. So what exactly is the problem?
To define it as clearly as I can - just imagine switching between players either when attacking or defending. The game lags by maybe a couple of tenths of a second. So the player you are trying to switch to doesn't actually do anything for that time - which means you are always playing catch up. The CPU opposition is always a step ahead. To add to the frustration, the old problem of momentum amplifies the issue. It feels like your players are on wet sand, in welly boots - yet the oposition can turn and twist effortlessly - making a mockery of any player skill or trickery. To test the limits of the problem, I edited a few players and ramped up their agility/explosive power score to maximum and replayed the previous match. The players were certainly quicker off the mark, but not nearly quick enough to negate the lag times from the FOX engine. I won the game 4-0, but it was a miserable, stress inducing experience. Set pieces are in my opinion slightly better - I actually quite like the HUD style display for the balls projected trajectory, but we are still unable to send any more than 3 defenders up into the box (useless if you have a 6ft 5 centre midfielder wanting to join in etc). The tactics are broadly unchanged, but again the interface for changing player positions and roles is an embarrasingly sluggish affair - and the icons representing the players form are a garish mess which is a pointless change, benefitting nobody.
Curiously - when taking a goal kick Konami have decided not to allow you to select a player and pass directly to him. It's amazing - some of the simplest fundamentals of the game are removed - for no reason whatsoever. Shooting and passing do look as if they could be a really big success story and it's a travesty that none of these elements are allowed to stand out, given the outrageous inadequacies of FOX.
There is not much else to say. It is a colossal let down and Konami should be universally condemned for selling what is (in my opinion) the worst game I have ever bought for my 360. Last years edition had a few small flaws, but was otherwise the pinnacle of football for this generation of console. This year, for whatever badly tested FOX related issues have transpired - Konami have removed all the fun, removed basic functionality and produced an abysmal disgrace of a footy sim. In broader terms of sports sims, I've had more fun playing tennis in GTA5.
Footnote to give you a laugh: I traded in PES2013, Halo 4 (which is rubbish) and Arkham City in 'Game' and paid £25 for PES2014. I have now traded PES2014 back to Game and bought my old copy of PES2013 back, which cost me £14. So I have spent £25 and traded 2 games for absolutely nothing - just to get my old game back again (and a £3 gift card - thanks 'Game'). I have lost out big on a truly awful purchase. But do you know what? Even after that, I still feel HAPPIER that I have PES2013 back - and I will absolutely settle for playing it another year to give Konami one final chance to fix this horrific mistake.
If I sound like a jilted lover, then please do yourself a big favour and try before you buy. Please do not give Konami your money until you are sure - that's from a bona fide PES fan.