PES 2014 doesn’t let you perform a certain goal celebration after scoring. It doesn’t have an Ultimate Team mode. It doesn’t have Legends like Bergkamp and Pele. And it still doesn’t have decent commentary.
But to me PES 2014 is the game that will return the once renowned football game franchise to a standard it can be proud of once again. Here’s my thoughts on Pro Evolution Soccer 2014 and why I’ll be playing it instead of FIFA 14 this year.
One of PES 2014’s marketing slogans is ‘A New Beginning’. This is especially fitting, given that the title uses a brand new Fox game engine, but also that it marks a return to form for the series. Where PES 2013 introduced some better gameplay, PES 2014 has refined it further.
Gone are the dodgy passes and awkward player movements from previous PES games . The ball now feels like it’s well weighted, so passes are firm and players feel like real, solid humans which make more exciting runs and crunch into one another realistically, whereas FIFA has began to feel more like pinball in recent years.
You feel like you can actually initiate a move and make an impact on the pitch, rather than having to wait for the perfect opportune moment to create a chance in FIFA, which these days seems less likely to lead to a goal, anyway.
MOVING THE GOALPOSTS
In the classic PES and ISS games of old, scoring was hard. A lot harder than it was in earlier FIFA titles. This made it more of a challenge to bury the ball in the back of the net and thus more rewarding when you finally did. However, what I’ve noticed now is that the reverse is true (when playing against the computer on harder difficulties, anyway). You may get one or two goals in a FIFA 14 match against a tough computer opponent, but in PES 2014 there seems to be a greater amount of exciting goal-scoring opportunities. Both teams may be scoring more in PES, but it’s also much more fun.
FIFA’s goals, on the other hand, have become staid and tired. They seem to either be down to luck (an annoying rebound tap in, one-on-one goal after a defender loses a tackle to a charging forward, or another boring header from a corner – which I’ve seen happen more times than Nicolas Anelka has changed football clubs), or the same type of goal (the cross-goal top corner strike, straight shot into the bottom corner or “sweaty” two-on-one pass and goal). Of course, you’ve still got your bicycle kicks, volleys and long range smashes in FIFA 13/14, but no two look entirely different – they’ve lost their magic.
PES 2014, on the other hand, has somehow captured the unpredictable magic of football. In the demo I’ve scored a diving (more like falling) far-post header with Milner, which hit Neuer’s gloves so fast he fumbled the ball onto the underside of his crossbar before it ended up curving back into the net. I’ve scored a beautifully placed, slow side/back-heel with Gotze which trickled around the outstretched keeper into the far corner, from a long Lahm pass near the corner flag (yes, you can play a long pass into the box and it will have a chance of leading to a goal, unlike FIFA’s cross-focused system). I’ve scored a curling free-kick from Pierlo and a super-fast strike into the centre of the goal from Walcott, which was too fast for the keeper to unrealistically punch out with both his hands (like they do in FIFA).
Goalscoring chances are a lot more varied in PES, which means you’ll have more brilliant goals to share with your friends. In our first three matches in PES 2014, they finished 2-3, 2-1 and 1-0; in FIFA they were 0-0, 1-0 and 2-2. We’ll let you guess how many of those 5 were from corners, tap-ins and the usual low ball-placed-into-corner goals.
Remember when FIFA 12 made tackling really hard a couple of years ago? Yes, we all eventually got used to it, but it doesn’t have to be that way. PES 2014’s ‘pressure’ button (A on 360, X on PS3) seems to work a lot better than FIFA’s, as when it’s held down in FIFA, the player leaves too much distance between the guy with the ball, and tapping the button too much will result in a foul. In PES the pressure feels more realistic, and you just tap the button at the right time to make a better tackle to win the ball. There’s no need to press a different button to tackle, like you have to in FIFA, and your player won’t make it slower than a drunk Per Mertesacker.
Again, PES 2014’s tackling system just works. It’s more enjoyable. You can even make your player dive in PES (and actually win free kicks) – how cool is that? Sod the “believing in fair play” nonsense – this is a game and should replicate real life while being fun to play. PES is certainly more arcade-like without being unrealistic – and I’m all for that.
Another thing that I love about PES 2014 is its new ‘Heart’ mechanic. “Defining what makes football so riveting is difficult,” says developers Konami. “It isn’t a technical thing, but more of an emotional hook.” Players now have mental attributes and will be affected when having a poor game. So when this happens to a player, his teammates can rally around him to support him – meaning no two matches will be the same.
The referees are also less harsh in PES – there’s more free kicks without cards dished out, keeping the game flowing, while the player stats also seem more realistic than FIFA 14. They’re slightly higher for some players, without there being such a gulf in class between some 80-rated and 86+ rated ones like there is in FIFA.
THE BEAUTIFUL GAMES
We’re not denying FIFA isn’t a good game. But to say it’s better than FIFA 12 – arguably the best FIFA ever – would be questionable. It’s been tweaked and if you like what FIFA offers over PES this year, then there’s no reason not to go for FIFA 14. It has the licences (though PES has the Champions League), realistic player faces and more sophisticated presentation, with impressive commentary, menu songs and a raft of modes. But it’s the gameplay that counts, and for me PES 2014 edges FIFA 14 on that front this year.
So no – I can’t get Giroud to moonwalk when I score in PES 2014. But I don’t want him to. Because I know that when he scores in FIFA 14, it’s a goal. In PES 2014, it’s a beautiful one.
PES is back at last. I urge you to be bold and give it a try this year – I’m sure you won’t be disappointed.
PES 2014 is out in the UK on September 20th, while FIFA 14 hits shelves on September 27th
Dom is an award-winning writer who graduated from Bournemouth University with a 2:1 degree in Multi-Media Journalism in 2007.
A keen League player and WoW RPer, he has written for a range of publications including Games TM, Nintendo Official Magazine, games industry publication MCV as well as Riot Games. He currently works as full-time content director for the British Esports Association.