PES 2018

Learn to em­brace change and you won’t be dis­ap­pointed

PlayStation Official Magazine (UK) - - CONTENTS - @ian­dean2

Foot­ball sea­son has be­gun, on the pitch and on our PlayS­ta­tions. Could this be this year’s win­ner?

Are you ready to get an­gry? Be­cause it’s that time of year again, when all PES fans look for­ward to a new re­lease with a sense of ex­citable trep­i­da­tion. The love it/hate it first few weeks with a new PES are ones of grit­ted teeth, adu­la­tion, and loved ones ask­ing, “why do you play that silly game?” ev­ery time you throw the pad in frus­tra­tion, only to pick it back up again and carry on re­gard­less. You’re des­per­ate to love this year’s PES de­spite it­self. Play­ing a new ver­sion of PES is like go­ing through a gam­ing detox. You need to un­learn all the tricks, tac­tics, and nu­ances of the last 12 months and grasp how to play this PES. De­spite first im­pres­sions, you know deep down the ini­tial pained an­guish of fail­ing to string passes to­gether or tack­ling a ma­raud­ing mid­fielder will fall away with prac­tice and ex­tended play.

KICK OFF

So what’s new this time around? What sub­tle changes will make us clutch our DualShocks un­der tight­ened white knuck­les un­til we’ve learned the new tricks of this year’s play­ing style? We have two big changes to get to grips with, ‘strate­gic drib­bling’ and Real Touch+ con­trol. They both aim to put drib­bling and deft touches front and cen­tre of PES 2018.

In play this means the pace of the game has been dra­mat­i­cally slowed down from PES 2017. Both play­ers and the ball feel weighty and un­der pres­sure from an un­seen force. As al­ways, first im­pres­sions will make you shrug and be­moan the loss of PES 2017’s su­perb ar­cade-like pace and ping­ing end-to-end matches. But put in the hours with the new game and PES 2018 be­gins to show its true colours.

First, strate­gic drib­bling es­sen­tially means we have greater con­trol over our play­ers than ever be­fore. They’re still gov­erned by un­der­ly­ing stats, so Jor­dan Hen­der­son won’t have turned into Isco overnight, but fun­da­men­tally these play­ers han­dle

with more ac­cu­racy than in any PES that’s come be­fore. And with greater con­trol comes greater re­spon­si­bil­ity to per­form. Whereas in PES 2017 I would launch a strong through-ball up the pitch for a pacey winger to latch onto, now I’m more con­fi­dent to pull in­side and try to drib­ble past a de­fender with a flick and a quick tap of the sprint but­ton.

The fact the AI is slower to close you down means there’s al­ways more space to find on the pitch, en­cour­ag­ing maz­ing runs and drib­bles. That, and we’re not so im­pressed with the tack­ling this year, which feels un­der­pow­ered and clumsy. Per­haps Konami re­alises this, as now a slid­ing tackle in the box doesn’t al­ways re­sult in a penalty, but of­ten strik­ers are booked for div­ing. PES 2018 takes away, and then gives.

The slower pace and greater con­trol means the tricks and feints avail­able on the right stick, which I’ve of­ten over­looked in favour of more di­rect pass­ing, are now more ac­ces­si­ble. The responsiveness you feel now, with the ball at your feet, is mes­meris­ing.

The mea­sured pace is height­ened by the new weight of the ball – it’s slower than in PES 2017. At first it feels slug­gish, like you’re play­ing on a wa­ter­logged pitch, but as is the way with PES, per­se­vere and you be­gin to re­tune to how Konami wants you to play, with shorter passes, more one-two com­bi­na­tions, and a greater em­pha­sis on play­ing through the mid­dle of the pitch rather than spam­ming balls out wide to run­ners.

When it comes to the Real Touch+ con­trol, this is largely cos­metic. Play­ers will now use any part of their body to con­trol the ball; con­tex­tual trap­ping sees them dab a passed ball with their heels or flick the ball on with their hip, chest, or head. It’s great to watch and show­cases the mul­ti­fac­eted an­i­ma­tion we have this year – you’ll be con­stantly sur­prised at the small touches that make the game feel alive, such as play­ers duck­ing from long and low passes so a team­mate can col­lect the ball fur­ther up the field.

PITCH PER­FECT?

PES 2018 throws in some lit­eral curve­balls too, with its dead ball sys­tem. The di­rec­tional guides from PES 2017 are gone; in­stead you see the pitch from a wide view above the player and sim­ply push a di­rec­tion, add power, and af­fect the ball’s spin on the sticks. The change means goal and free kicks are more con­trol­lable – you can pass from the whis­tle to de­fend­ers with ac­cu­racy, which means more tac­ti­cal choice. Speaking of which, the D-pad strat­egy op­tions PES 2017 in­tro­duced for cor­ners have now been added to free kicks too. How­ever, cor­ner kicks feel de­tached, as try­ing to pick out play­ers and di­rect the ball with fi­nesse is a los­ing bat­tle.

There are also ques­tion marks over the strength of some pass­ing op­tions – lofted

“YOU’LL BE SUR­PRISED AT THE SMALL TOUCHES THAT MAKE THE GAME FEEL ALIVE.”

through-balls are an ab­so­lute god­send now. Tap one of these over the de­fence for a run­ner and they al­ways con­nect. Con­versely, cross­ing feels light­weight and head­ing the ball is now a hit-and-miss af­fair.

FI­NAL WHIS­TLE

New con­trols aside, there are doubts over how much new con­tent is ac­tu­ally in PES 2018. The only new game mode of merit is 3v3 co-op, a foot­note ad­di­tion but hardly es­sen­tial.

There are some changes to the game’s pre­sen­ta­tion; dur­ing match stop­pages player stats ping onto the screen – pass­ing, dis­tance trav­elled and pos­ses­sion stats of­fer in­sight into how well you’re do­ing. It’s a great couch­play ad­di­tion as the brag­ging rights are up there for all to see.

But we don’t come to PES for its deep game modes, we’re here for the sublime game­play and in this re­spect you won’t be dis­ap­pointed. PES 2018 does de­mand you re­think how you play, and in do­ing so when play­ing myClub and Mas­ter League you’ll come to favour play­ers you never be­lieved you’d like – strong mid­field­ers and old-fash­ioned for­wards who can hold the ball up have be­come my first-choice picks.

The fact you will come to feel an emo­tional at­tach­ment to these play­ers is proof this year’s edi­tion is work­ing. At its best PES makes us feel con­nected, we build our own nar­ra­tives around the play­ers we un­lock, and this year’s game con­sis­tently de­liv­ers, even if who we’re now con­nect­ing with, and how we per­form, has changed. Give it time, and PES 2018 will win you over.

VER­DICT

It’s as good as PES has ever been, but with enough tweaks to feel dif­fer­ent with the ball at your feet. As al­ways, give your­self time to get used to the new it­er­a­tion. Ian Dean

INFO FOR­MAT PS4 ETA OUT NOW PUB KONAMI DEV KONAMI

Left The new cor­ner kick sys­tem means it’s harder to pass the ball to your play­ers.

Right Goals feel more var­ied this year, with less re­liance on cross­ing and cheap head­ers.

Above You’ll of­ten miss the tricks and flips in-game. Good job the re­plays high­light them.

Right Penalty kicks have been re­freshed with a new dy­namic cam­era an­gle.

Above Kane signs for Barcelona… and Cal­lum Wil­son wins the Golden Boot.

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