Every year the footballing world is split between the two available football games,Konami’s Pro Evolution Soccer and EA Sports’ FIFA. However, throughout the past five to six years, FIFA has prevailed as the go-to football game after an era of dominance for PES in the early 2000s. 2018 may prove to be the start of a turning point in FIFA’s dominance over the football gaming world.
Konami deserves much praise for the massive jump achieved between PES 2016 and PES 2017. This year, the improvement in performance and visuals isn’t as massive as before. For those who liked PES 2017, this year’s iteration will definitely feel familiar and slight improvements will be noticeable. Pro Evolution Soccer’s main difference from its EA Sports’ counterpart in terms of gameplay is its slower pace and tactical approach to the wonderful game. The game’s pace was toned down from last year’s even further, allowing players to spot runs and make pinpoint passes and crosses. The tactical approach to the game makes for some very satisfying moments where you score some extraordinary goals after instructing your fullback to overlap, 1-2 with the near player, cross into the box with your striker cutting inside from behind the defender to strike it home with a breathtaking volley. As much as I play FIFA, PES’s tactics and slower gameplay genuinely feels like the true football game the fans deserve.
Although Konami continuously improve and focus on simulating real-world football as much as they can, the game still suffers from a long persisting problem that takes away the realism and suck the fun out of the game, and that problem is licensing. Over the past few years, Konami managed to acquire the rights to some of the biggest names in football, including FC Barcelona, Borussia Dortmund, Arsenal, Liverpool and a couple more. However, most of the teams are named under their location or just a similar name to their real one. This takes away a great portion of the game’s realism because you can’t get yourself hyped up to play a match between East London and London FC, which are Arsenal and Chelsea respectively, two of the biggest Premier League teams. This licensing issue is one of the biggest problems holding PES back from really competing with FIFA.
FIFA’s rise to dominance started with the release of their massively successful online multiplayer mode with TCG elements, Ultimate Team. Since then, Konami has been trying to implement a similar mode in their game but continuously fail to replicate what their rivals achieved. PES’s MyClub mode allows players to create their own dream team through ranking up divisions, both online and offline, winning cups, participating in tournaments and spending the points earned to sign players using “Agents.” Before using an Agent to sign a player, the game displays the probability of getting a Bronze, Silver, Gold or an Elite player, resembled in bronze, silver, gold and black balls. You are presented with a continuous belt of moving balls and you have to press the button prompted respectively depending on your console to stop the belt from moving so it can slow down and finally settle on the player you are getting.
After a few scenes showcasing the player’s boots, some fancy flicks and shots, the player you got is presented to you with his name, position and rating. However, the lack of a transfer market makes the game a bit stale, obliging players to play games and obtain points in order to improve their team. Speaking from personal experience with the game last year, it doesn’t take that long before you are playing with a top tier team with mega stars on your side if you are lucky with a ball or two on the start. Last year, I got Cristiano Ronaldo in my second attempt at signing a player, keep in mind that was extremely lucky but shows how easy it is to get world class players.
New additions and modes were introduced to the game, including a new Online 3vs3 mode and a Random Selection Match mode. The online 3vs3 mode lets you play with three other friends or get teamed up with random players to take on three other players to see who is better. This allows for some very exciting build up play and runs if you are playing with friends and know each other’s style of play. It was honestly one of the most enjoyable modes I played in a football game.
Another new mode introduced in PES 2018 is Random Selection. The mode lets players to choose four search parameters, set to team, nationality and even an entire league, then the game builds an entire team for the player to play with based on the set search parameters. Of course if you set the four parameters to make up a team combining players from Barcelona, Real Madrid, Dortmund and Manchester United for example, you will have a super team on your hands. The fun aspect is when you and your friend decide to pick ridiculous parameters, letting the game choose players with the following parameters for example: Argentinian league, Lithuania’s national team, Palermo and Toulouse. You are either going to discover a hidden gem player within the game or it will turn into a completely unplayable team but both experiences are fun and lets you drift away from the serious aspect of the game for a couple of minutes.
Konami is slowly but surely making its way back into the scene, with its main problem being its lack of licensing and a real multiplayer mode to compete with FIFA’s Ultimate Team mode. If you like to play a slow paced football game with set tactics and strategies clearly affecting how the match unfolds, then make sure to give PES 2018 a try.