Pro Evolution Soccer 2014 Review (PC)

very good
key review info
  • Game: Pro Evolution Soccer 2014
  • Platform: PC
  • Gamepad support: Yes  
  • Reviewed on:
  • Written by: Andrei Dumitrescu
  • Show system requirements
Football time

Football is a game of many nuances and the money that has recently poured into the various competitions all over the world means that there are more opportunities than ever to watch superb matches almost every week.

But the sport is not only glamor and spectacle. It also involves a lot of work for the players, a lot of thinking and plenty of luck.

Pro Evolution Soccer 2014 understands that football is a varied experience and delivers a framework that allows each gamer and fan to try out his own style and see how well he can perform against the best teams in the world.


Story


Pro Evolution Soccer 2014 is a game about teams you love and the matches they’ll play on the road to a trophy, be they internal or continental.

The game allows players to select from a wealth of potential clubs and then focus on the tactics, the formations and the player roles that can be tweaked to extract the best possible performance from them.

Unfortunately, the series still lacks licenses for a great number of teams, which might be a turn-off for those gamers who really want to control their favorite players from the real world.
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Champions time
Tactical switch
The good news is that the Champions League of Europe and the Copa Libertadores for Latin America, the best club competitions in the world, are fully simulated and allow players to achieve a level of virtual glory that many will never encounter in real life.

Konami has worked on the presentation of Pro Evolution Soccer 2014, especially for the big matches of the Champions League, with some interesting lead in commentary and beautiful shots of the stadiums that are playing hosts.

At the same time, the series retains its original focus on the football as a game rather than a spectacle and the entire look is somewhat more somber than that of its main rival FIFA.


Gameplay


Pro Evolution Soccer 2014 is a game that locates the heart of football in the interplay between star players, the teams that support their skills and the fans that chant for or against them when they take the pitch.

Developers at Konami deliver an experience that asks much of gamers when it comes to time spent learning the mechanics, but can deliver impressive matches, with plenty of crunching tackles, cool players and goals from the best attackers playing the game.

The big innovation is that the ball is now its own physical entity, governed by gravity and momentum, which makes passes and shots more unpredictable than before and more satisfying when they reach their destination.

The increased focus on real-world physics is also visible in the movement and the actions of the various players, which makes it more important to protect the ball with big players, learn when to run when using fast ones and how to deploy tricks to beat defenders.
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Tunnel atmosphere
Happy players
Pro Evolution Soccer 2014 also wants to separate the superstar players, the likes of Ronaldo, Messi, Pirlo, Ibrahimovici, Ribery and Ramsey, from their teammates, showing how their impressive skills can be used to turn a play and a match around.

A true midfield wizard can take apart a defense by spotting and exploring the run of a winger of central forward, but at the same time, a solid defender can simply use his weight to separate a lighter attacker from the ball and deny him an opportunity.

Both attacking and defending phases are fun as long as the player knows the core concepts of PES 2014 and deploys them wisely.

That means abandoning the idea that two passes and one feint can move the ball from goalkeeper to attacker and deploying sensible solutions for the small tactical puzzles that the game delivers at each turn.

Aside from physics and player skill, Pro Evolution Soccer 2014 also focuses on Heart, a system that’s designed to show how the crowd interacts with a team to lead it towards success or support it when it’s not performing well on the pitch.

All these three features come together to create a football sim that celebrates the game, its quirks and its superstars while never moving into arcade territory.



A good team needs to pass the ball well, with the gamer carefully calculating where and when he wants to deliver it, while preparing runs and moves into space that can lead to a shot opportunity, hopefully using a good striker who can deliver a goal.

Getting good at Pro Evolution Soccer 2014 requires time, but the team has made the process easy by introducing a full range of training exercises that explain most of the fundamental elements of the simulation.

Outside of matches themselves, the Konami title feels a little too simple, especially given that the Master League now actually has a smaller number of features available than it did last year.

This makes sense given the radical rebuilding of the core sim experience, but leaves the game at a disadvantage when compared to the complexity that FIFA has introduced lately.


Graphics and audio


Pro Evolution Soccer 2014 uses the new Fox Engine that Kojima Productions is creating for Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain, but the team probably needs at least another year in order to use it to its full potential.

The movement and animation of players is pretty good, especially when they react to a new event in the match, but the faces of some of the most recognizable stars of the game are weirdly twisted, like they were first painted with oil on canvas and then applied on the in-game models.

This is especially jarring considering that the team is recreating the way they move and their special skills much better than before.
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On goal
Wing action
It’s unclear whether this is tied to the licenses for certain players or teams or just to a problem with the actual game.

The small cutscenes that punctuate a match, from the moment the teams enter the stadium to celebrations after a goal, also seem low quality and tend to stutter, which takes players out of the game and break their immersion.

The Pro Evolution Soccer 2014 team also has issues creating an user interface that’s easy to use and informative.

The commentary is a little unimaginative, but I rarely actually listen to it while focusing on the action on the screen.


Multiplayer


Gamers can easily set up multiplayer matches in Pro Evolution Soccer 2014, but the overall design of the game means that it’s imperative that skill levels are similar, otherwise the weaker gamer will have no fun and no opportunity to learn new moves and tricks.

At the same time, the series has nothing that can compete with the Ultimate Team mode that FIFA offers, which is a big problem for the coming years.


Conclusion


Pro Evolution Soccer 2014 is a good sign for the series, because it takes the elements that fans liked from last year and integrates them with an entirely new engine, which creates a solid platform for further development.

Konami has only launched the game on home consoles this year and it will be interesting to see exactly how the game will look on the Xbox One and the PlayStation 4.

The focus on careful passes and well-timed movement might seem a little too slow for some football lovers, but PES 2014 understands the core elements of the modern football game and manages to replicate them well.

This might result in matches where a solid defense and a creative attack cancel each other out and result in no goals, but this is how plenty of games in the real world end.

Konami still has some work to do when it comes to presentation, player faces and some of the physics implementation, but Pro Evolution Soccer 2014 offers a good experience for those who have the time to learn its unique mechanics.

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story 6
gameplay 8
concept 9
graphics 9
audio 7
multiplayer 7
final rating 8
Editor's review
very good
 
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