Pro Evolution Soccer 2017 has improved its core gameplay to the extent that it has become, after years of trying, a legitimate threat to FIFA’s crown as the best football video game in the world.
FIFA, a little bit like Barcelona in the football world, has dominated the football video game market for as long as anyone can remember.
Of course, Pro Evolution Soccer as a brand as well as a football video game was always hanging around at a distant second place but that order looks set to be changed this year.
This would be the first time Pro Evolution Soccer 2017 could genuinely displace FIFA as the premier football video game in the market.
Pro Evolution Soccer 2016, of course, closed the gap to such an extent that many considered Pro Evolution Soccer 2016 to be the greatest football video game ever made.
Pro Evolution Soccer 2016 was exactly the type of game fans of the long-running series were waiting for and in all fairness, it was because Pro Evolution Soccer 2016 delivered on all fronts. It offered tremendous gameplay value along with a deep system for scoring goals.
Pro Evolution Soccer 2016 returned Konami at the forefront of football video game industry and planted the company alongside EA (the company that releases FIFA on a yearly basis).
So this time around, the only expectation from Pro Evolution Soccer 2017 was not to lose its composure and tweak the game enough to improve on its winning formulae.
Make no mistake; a lot was riding on Pro Evolution Soccer 2017 edition football video game. It was widely anticipated that the 2017 installment of the game would decide if Pro Evolution Soccer was a contender who was here to stay and duel it out with FIFA or just another one hit wonder.
It comes as a relief then (perhaps to most if not all) that Pro Evolution Soccer 2017’s quality is even better than the Pro Evolution Soccer 2016 edition.
Konami has evidently put in a lot of work in the critical elemental mechanics of the game and has made significant changes to the actual match day experience, which should have been the focus from the start.
However, fans who want to see Pro Evolution Soccer compete with FIFA on brand names and logos would still feel disappointed since FIFA has that all locked up.
There are hardly any official licenses that Pro Evolution Soccer can get a hold on to, so most fans will have to content themselves with a presentation that is a little less than what some might call an authentic television design.
And of course, there is the fact that Pro Evolution Soccer isn’t really trying to compete with FIFA on that front. The company behind Pro Evolution Soccer, thankfully, has understood that in order to break FIFA’s stranglehold on football video games market, it needed to develop an immersive atmosphere instead of just an excellent gameplay and an assortment of game modes.
With that said, Konami hasn’t entirely given up its efforts on acquiring more licensed content for its football video game.
This time, PES 2017 will feature FC Barcelona along with its Camp Nou stadium (which is the biggest football stadium in the world) and its entire roster (which includes the likes of Messi, Neymar, and Suarez).
People who have had hands-on experience with PES 2017 have reported that the licensing has improved PES 2017’s gameplay experience in any discernable way.
And that is precisely because, PES 2017’s strength is in its gameplay mechanics and not in whether a team’s name is Arsenal or North London Football Club.
As far as aesthetics are concerned, FC Barcelona’s Nou Camp (some like to refer to it as Camp Nou, both are correct) has been remodeled from top to bottom and the attention to detail is astronomically impressive.
You’ll be able to feel the crowd inside the stadium when you, eventually, get to play with your favorite team inside Camp Nou.
The atmosphere of the surroundings areas hasn’t been neglected either as Konami has made sure that fans of the series can enjoy the spectacular view of the city that reaches out to the ocean.
From the pictures that form in the crowd to the chants and day/night surroundings, everything has been given a lot of care. Of course, that care only extends as far as FC Barcelona and Camp Nou since it is PES 2017’s exclusive partner this term.
Konami really has taken it up a notch by 3D scanning every athlete that is available on the Barcelona roster. Even legendary players who have retired from the game such as Puyol, Ronaldinho and Ronaldo have very realistic looks.
Fans will also be able to enjoy Classic Barcelona kits which would be available in My Club and Master League mode of the game.
The great attention to detail that Konami has given to the game, as far as football club Barcelona is concerned, can be judged from the fact that FC Barcelona actually gave Konami exclusive access to the club’s academy areas and training facilities.
As a result, Konami managed to reproduce players and their likenesses on and off the ball accurately down to a tee.
All indications are that this painstakingly slow procedure will be applied to a lot more clubs in the future but at the present moment, Konami has confirmed that football club Barcelona is the only professional club that is involved in this process.
In the actual game, all this hard work would translate to players pulling off their trademark moves and dribbling skills such as ball flicks, impromptu finishes and other behaviors that are unique to individual players.
Hands-on experience with the game showed Mascherano visibly agitated on being booked by the referee.
Other areas where Konami have made a lot of systematic improvements include animations and controls. These improvements have instilled excitement and exhilaration into events that happen on the pitch during actual football matches.
A new feature called Real Touch allows players to have more refined control of the player when that player receives the ball.
The game will give you options like performing a dummy or changing the ball’s’ direction with the first touch while dribbling with the ball.
Player motion and movement look very fluid and the controls are simple enough so that players of all skill levels will be able to enjoy attacking their opponents on the break.
There have also been reports about the game allowing you to employ tactics such as Barcelona’s Tiki-Taka style passing without much effort in order to frustrate your opponents.
PES 2017 will also enable players to choose between simple and advanced tactics. Previous iterations of the game were marred by the lack of accessibility when it came making tactical choices during a football match.
Because even though the game presented you with a lot of tactical options, there was no easy way to implement them on the field of play.
But now, players will be able to change their team’s style of play on the go with ease. All the game would require you to do is to map your custom tactics on the D-Pad by going into the Game Plan menu and save your settings.
These settings could be as simple as push forward to as advanced as the real Tiki Taka style (or in contrast, you could use Gegenpress for your defensive tactics).
FIFA has had this feature for a long time so there is nothing new about what Konami has done here but the ease with which you can deploy your tactics actually widens the scope of what a player can achieve in a given match.
While the overall package is great, some issues remain from the previous PES game (or games since PES 2015 was able as far away from a perfect game as you can imagine).
The menus don’t look modern and it is reasonably difficult to navigate through menus when you want to access advanced functions.
My Club and Master League modes have always been popular among the fans but their presentation style has not changed much.
Of course, to actually overtake FIFA as the best football video game on the planet, PES will have to strike up more licensing deals with other clubs.
Currently, Konami has licensed Barcelona and UEFA Champions League but there have been reports of Konami reaching out to other clubs for licensing rights.
This year will be a transitional year as far as FIFA is concerned since EA changed the game’s engine for its 2017 installment.
This development allows PES to have a crack at the market without any competition and become the most popular football video game.
PES 2016 gave a strong foundation to its successor Pro Evolution 2017 and because of the many minor modifications made to the game, this looks like the year when PES finally overtakes FIFA as the most recognized football video game in the world.