PRO EVOLUTION SOCCER 2018 Review
- Review Price: £39.99
Developing a series for a yearly release must be a tricky business. In the space of just a few months, you need to make everything look nicer and produce meaningful gameplay strides (and even think of some new buzzwords to put on the back of the box). With PES 2018, Konami’s annual soccer game looks and sounds a little too similar to last year’s edition–the presentation is flat and its lack of licenses is an ongoing problem–but some excellent on-pitch tweaks are enough to make PES 2018 the most satisfying football game ever made.
The most noticeable change is a distinct reduction in the game’s speed. That applies to both the ball and player movement, meaning matches have an altogether more methodical pace to them. Players sprint and turn more slowly, and therefore do so far more realistically. Crucially, however, everything feels just as responsive as before.
Combined with a number of new animations, the slower pace lends each kick a greater sense of weight. It also means, when you lose the ball, it usually takes longer to get it back, which can frustrate–especially when defending has not improved meaningfully in a couple of years now. Individual tackles can feel clunky, and opposition strikers are given too much space by their markers when receiving the ball to feet–Mourinho would be having none of it.
The Champions League is licensed, but the magic of reaching it with your favorite team is killed if, rather than playing as Manchester United, you’re actually controlling Man Red.
The lack of attention paid to how kits look is reflected in the game’s presentation as a whole. While PES’s main rival, FIFA, replicates the experience of watching soccer on TV pretty closely, Pro Evo 2018 looks somewhat flat by comparison. Player models look largely fine (and some obscure players have surprisingly accurate faces), but crowds appear like cardboard cut-outs and sound almost as fake as they look–cheers when you score and moans when you miss sound muted, while chants are just a cacophony of noise with no discernible tunes or words. Peter Drury and Jim Beglin’s awful, stilted, disjointed commentary returns, with a cliche-ridden dialogue library that contains few new lines and zero extra excitement. (On more than one occasion I was hit with a bug that removed all the commentary, and let’s just say I’ve had worse glitches.) These complaints are not new to PES 2018 of course, but as EA continues to make strides in these areas with FIFA, PES’s continued poor sights and sounds are put in starker contrast with every passing year.
- Looks great on PC
- One-touch utopia
- High-octane gameplay
- Dedicated co-op mode
- Turns into goal-fest too easily
- Over-powered crosses
- Low on tactical defence
- Lack of cover mechanic in defence
- Passes, set-pieces need bolstering
The same is, to an extent, true of PES’s online offering. MyClub is Konami’s answer to FIFA Ultimate Team, and this year its big new feature is 3v3 co-op online play, a mode in which you sacrifice most of the control in return for some laughs with your friends. You and your teammates each contribute a few players to a combined squad, which the three of you then control in the match, sharing the rewards at the end. However, far too often PES is unable to connect enough human players to the lobby, meaning rather than simply giving me full control or searching again, I was dumped into the worst-of-both-worlds option of controlling one third of an otherwise AI-controlled team. It’s not quite the fun addition it should be, especially when I was occasionally subject to some egregious input lag when playing online.
Rating (out of 10): 7
Crazyjar played a review copy of PES 2018 on PC. The game is available at Rs. 3,499 for PS4 and Xbox One, Rs. 1,999 for PC, and Rs. 2,499 on PS3 and Xbox One ($60 in the US). At the time of writing, the digital version via Steam is unavailable in India.