Pes 2018

More tor­toise than hare – and all the bet­ter for it

Games Master - - CONTENTS -

The best un­of­fi­cial team names ever, with South Nor­wood, All Black White, Guillermo Brown, and O’Hig­gins.

Be­ing slow isn’t usu­ally a com­pli­ment in foot­ball, but Kon­ami’s kick­about this year turns a sub­tle dip in pace to its ben­e­fit. Tac­ti­cal con­sid­er­a­tions be­come even more im­por­tant as you fig­ure out how to es­cape de­fend­ers who use their bod­ies to block off routes even more ef­fec­tively. But PES be­ing great on the pitch isn’t news, and that dip in pace is also no­tice­able when it comes to ad­dress­ing off-field is­sues. Let’s start with the good stuff though. When comes to the kick­ing of the ball, the changes here aren’t ma­jor ones but help the over­all ac­tion ben­e­fit from the more con­sid­ered speed.

Take player an­i­ma­tions. While it might seem like a nerdy point to pick up on, the way vir­tual ‘ballers move, pick up the ball and thump it goal-wards im­presses im­me­di­ately. One par­tic­u­larly strong mo­ment where this shines is the way strik­ers move for crosses in the box. On more than one oc­ca­sion, we see our Mas­ter League heart­throb S Coutinho peel off a de­fender so he can run onto a cross and nod it home like a crafty striker would. Through a com­bi­na­tion of su­per smart AI and su­perb an­i­ma­tions, PES plays like the real deal.

Joy di­vi­sion

The joys don’t end there. Thanks to some nifty con­tex­tual shield­ing, play­ers are smarter when it comes to pro­tect­ing or fight­ing for the ball. Ping­ing it into the feet of a striker with his back to goal will see him arch into a mark­ing de­fender in­stinc­tively. There are tan­gi­ble fights for long balls as well, where you need to fo­cus on player po­si­tion­ing more than ever. It’s a small plea­sure, but watch­ing a de­fender time a run per­fectly to nick a high ball off a striker is sur­pris­ingly grat­i­fy­ing in ac­tion.

Plus, every­thing you’ve come to ex­pect of PES on the pitch is as strong as last year. Pass­ing with pur­pose re­mains as sat­is­fy­ing as ever. Trust us, when you man­age in­tri­cate and crisp pass­ing moves wor­thy of cover stars Barcelona, it’s hard not to end up over-cel­e­brat­ing if you man­age to score at the end of it. Sim­i­larly, PES con­tin­ues to ex­cel when it comes to tac­tics. Okay, it takes a lit­tle too much menu-div­ing, but the fact you’re able to set up a team to play the way you want, while try­ing to ex­ploit op­po­si­tion weak­ness gives the ac­tion a depth that’ll keep you com­ing back through­out the year.

For the sake of nit-pick­ing, there are a few blem­ishes here to the on-field ac­tion. De­fend­ers tend to be far too slow in turn­ing, which means that chipped through balls are al­most too use­ful. Ex­pect to see a lot of them on­line this

“we play games with French com­men­ta­tors rather than hear Jim Beglin’s voice”

play­ers through Agents and Scouts (dif­fer­ent forms of lot­ter­ies) and pit your Franken­stein FC against other play­ers or the com­puter. There’s so much in this mode – from the type of matches you can play to how you re­cruit play­ers – yet it never man­ages to be ac­ces­si­ble or ad­dic­tive. But, at least the net­code is solid and you aren’t wait­ing too long for matches when tak­ing on the op­po­si­tion.

If go­ing on­line doesn’t take your fancy, at least Mas­ter League re­ceives a lit­tle TLC this year. There’s now a club owner who sets tar­gets and scenes in the dress­ing room be­fore big games, which helps sell the jour­ney of man­ag­ing a club bet­ter than in past en­tries. But, de­spite the en­dur­ing love we have for tak­ing a cast of fake play­ers like L Giorza and Q Ar­cas into the big time, the trans­fer sys­tem is still far too idio­syn­cratic for its own good; there’s a lot of un­nec­es­sary menu-div­ing that grates and the lack of li­censes can be felt most keenly in this mode. Of course, the paucity of li­censes is noth­ing new and the kits is­sue can be fixed (have a glance over at Fix Up, Look Sharp), but there are other pre­sen­ta­tion is­sues that con­tinue to hin­der the se­ries. Whether it’s the sheer vol­ume of menus you end up div­ing into or just hav­ing to turn auto-save on man­u­ally in Mas­ter League or the UEFA Cham­pi­ons League com­pe­ti­tions, these are ba­sic things that make PES just that lit­tle less friendly to first-time play­ers. Which is why, ul­ti­mately, it’s still not quite a knock­out blow against FIFA. The modes just aren’t as in­tu­itive or com­pelling as the ones you find in its slicker coun­ter­part. Still, when it comes to the thing that mat­ters most – the, er, ball-kick­ing – PES con­tin­ues to be a fan­tas­tic rep­re­sen­ta­tion of the beau­ti­ful game. We just hope it’s a bit quicker in sort­ing out the other stuff.

The game has changed in sub­tle ways, in­clud­ing be­ing a lit­tle slower to en­sure tac­tics carry more weight.

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