September is the traditional football game month with the releases from Fifa and Pro Evolution Soccer. You can compare it with a match between Man City or Man U, Barcelona against Real. Both have a pretty vocal fan base, one thing is for sure, each year both Fifa and PES make excellent improvements. Let’s take a deeper look into PES 18 in this review!
- Let me start with my one and only comparement with Fifa. This is also the reason why I will always prefer Pro Evolution too, in this football game you can score goals that are not even remotely possible in Fifa’s scripted gameplay. Scoring a goal in this game feels real and you really feel that you accomplished something. Half of the goals in PES are from unpredictable moments, that’s the real magic that you can’t find in Fifa-games and what makes the football sport so awesome.
- The biggest change are the animations, it was already fantastic last year but this year it is really out of this world. Bold statement but Pro Evolution Soccer 18 has the best animations in the football genre, and beyond. It is seriously impressive and it is a little silly to explain it, just play the demo and see for yourself. Real life players move like you expect, shooting towards the goal can be done in unthinkable ways and goalkeepers don’t get stuck in save animations. Goalkeepers in general got a lot of attention and come up with some insane (but logic) saves. For the first time in a football game you have a fight for the second ball too, this was pretty much non-existent until PES 18. All possible with the new and improved animations.
- I read or hear it often that PES is more offline-focused, Fifa did an unexpected but great comeback with The Journey though. This year, one of my favorite modes from before makes a comeback “Random Match Selection” in this mode you can play against your local friend with random football players, stealing the best players from your friends team is sometimes more fun than actually playing the match! Also making a return, is the beloved Master League, a new 2vs2 and 3vs3 co-op mode, myClub and a Be a Pro mode. Some are more fun, while others feel like unnecessary filling. That said, a new legendary difficulty has been added too, giving even more challenge while playing against the AI.
- The overall presentation received a big overhaul, together with an excellent soundtrack. The biggest change is for the menu’s and replays, they finally decided to increase the effort and it is a big positive difference. You still have a few difficult to understand sub-menu for tactics but it really is day and night with previous PES-games.
- Visually the game looks fantastic and runs smooth, aided by the almost perfect animations. The crowd looks more alive, players move and feel real, the grass pitch looks realistic and the stadiums look impressive. I forgot the name but you have a new stadium that left me speechless, I think it could house more than 100.000 viewers.
- One thing I love about PES is the tactical choices. Even the small changes really have an impact, so coaching is equally important as executing it. You have the obvious box-to-box, counter or passing play style, but you can really fine-tune how each player should react or move in a specific situation. It is time-consuming to set everything right, and it is important to know that you don’t have to do it but you have the option to be a virtual Mourinho or Koeman.
- Handling the ball has been improved again, attacking feels a lot more smooth and responsive, passing is more accurate and realistic. One thing that got a red card is the defending. Tackling or keeping up with a player feels a little awkward and harder than it should be. Attacking movement has a lot more weight and control, making it a lot harder to steal the ball. With the X-button you can force an AI player to set pressure and do a standing tackle, it normally works like it should but the problem arrives when you do the defending work with holding the A button. I wish you had a better way of controlling your defender and timing your tackle, it feels a little out-of-place with the other attacking features.
- The overall presentation received a big overhaul, together with an excellent soundtrack. The biggest change is for the menu’s and replays, they finally decided to increase the effort and it is a big positive difference.
- Konami added a lot of new online features but the matchmaking takes a really, really long time. I’m not sure if the player base isn’t playing online or that PES 18 has matchmaking issues but it is frustrating to wait for minutes and minutes to finally play against a stranger. I’m not entirely sure if the developer did a smart thing too, the previous games didn’t have a large number of players and now they divided the player base even more with more online game modes. Time will tell, the netcode is working fine though. From the multiple matches that I played I never had any lag or disconnect issues.
- One thing that remains a big shame for PES is the lack of licenses, sure they have the Champions League and a few real teams but playing with London FC (Chelsea) or Glamorgan City isn’t what players expect after playing Fifa. It is not a big deal for me, but I understand that some people want it differently. Konami is slowly working on this issue though, new stadiums have been added, new teams like Fulham, Valencia and Inter Milan, and more accurate player faces (and movement).
- I had the same complaint last year but the commentary needs to be different. I’m not saying that the two voices are doing a bad job, they simply say the same things over and over again. You get tired of “Neeeymaaarrrrr” or any other striker’s name when you take a shot, they say it in such a cliché way too..
- I’m not sure if it is Microsoft’s fault for not allowing it, or Konami not willing to bring the feature for the Xbox version. But PS4 and PC gamers can fix the licensing kit and name issues with the help from the community and a USB stick. A big shame.. some players really look how they should but the kits are simply terrible.
Konami has done it again, they made a perfect football game even more perfect. The ball control feels even more accurate, animations are the best in the gaming scene, visually the game looks really beautiful and the overall presentation has been improved too. Football fans that like tactical and realistic play should buy PES 2018 IMMEDIATELY!