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Gaming Review

'PES 2014' review (PS3): A game of two halves

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'PES 2014' screenshot

© Konami

PES 2014


Release Date: September 20 (Europe), September 24 (North America)
Platforms available on: Xbox 360, PS3, PSP, Nintendo 3DS
Developer: PES Productions
Publisher: Konami
Genre: Sports

As the current generation of consoles prepare to hang up its boots, PES 2014 makes one last-ditch attempt to win some silverware by introducing a brand new game engine and a stack of new features.

For all of its upgrades and improvements on the pitch, however, PES 2014's path to victory over arch-rival FIFA remains blocked by a lack of options away from the field of play.

As evidenced by Konami's decision to omit rain effects, the PES 2014 development team has been limited by the time restraints associated with building the game from scratch.

'PES 2014' screenshot

© Konami

PES 2014 looks great thanks to the FOX Engine



'Master League', for instance, though still PES 2014's leading game mode, takes a step back from last year, reverting to an over-simplified formula of managing a budget, assigning training points and negotiating transfers.

Gone is last year's equipment system, which saw players earn and equip individual stat and training boosts, in favour of a basic team-based points system featuring a handful of different abilities.

Likewise, touches such as press conferences and post-match cutscenes have also been scrapped, while transfer deadline day once again passes by without any fanfare whatsoever.
    The PES 2014 development team has been limited by the time restraints associated with building the game from scratch.
It's a far cry from FIFA, which lets players talk to the press, criticise individual players and follow transfer deadline day as if it was being broadcast on Sky Sports News.

Ultimately, while we don't mind sacrificing these features for an improved on-field experience, it leaves PES 2014 lacking in the personality department.

PES 2014 does, however introduce international management options and 11-vs-11 online multiplayer, but it's just missing that one killer game mode to rival the likes of FIFA's 'Ultimate Team'.

'PES 2014' screenshot

© Konami

PES 2014 is lacking in game modes



But when you lace up the boots and walk out onto the pitch, the PES 2014 experience vastly improves, all thanks to the brand new FOX Engine.

You'll first notice it within the game's stunning new visuals. Animations are incredibly smooth, stadiums are beautifully recreated and most of the famous players greatly resemble their real-life counterparts, sweat patches and all.

Beyond cosmetic enhancements, the FOX Engine feeds into multiple facets of the gameplay experience, combining together to overhaul the way matches feel.

PES 2014's TrueBall tech and Motion Animation Stability System, for example, work in harmony to create much more open games that emphasise the importance of speed, skill and strength.

Take a good first touch with TrueBall tech and your momentum is much more likely to carry your player through to goal, provided, of course, you've got the strength to hold off a powerful defender, something which is dictated by the physics engine.


Smaller, quicker players such as Lionel Messi are able to make tight turns with the ball at their feet, realistically wriggling past players to give themselves enough room to shoot.

Get the ball to the feet of a powerhouse like Christian Benteke, meanwhile, and you can literally hold off the defender, nudge him back and create that little bit of space for a dribble through at goal.

Unlike past instalments, in which dribbling opportunities (against the computer, at least) were reliant on the space you had when you received the ball, PES 2014 lets you create chances out of nothing.

This marriage of physics and ball control really does transform your style of play and ability to both attack and defend depending on who's on the field.

'PES 2014' screenshot

© Konami

Dribbling and shooting benefits from the FOX Engine



Meanwhile, an expansion of the PES ID feature sees more players than ever behave like their real life counterparts, both on and off the ball.

It starts with the way players such as Cristiano Ronaldo move and dribble, but extends to the intelligence they show in and around the box and the kind of runs they make to create space.

Initially, a more in-depth through ball system makes it much trickier to thread the ball through to an off-the-shoulder striker.
    The action on the pitch is the best it's ever been, rivalling and arguably surpassing that of FIFA.
However, if you are able to master this new system - and it will take time - you benefit from passes that are much more accurate.

On the downside, the FOX Engine seems to struggle during particularly hectic goal-mouth scrambles, occasionally stuttering at inopportune moments, though not enough to ruin the experience.

'PES 2014' screenshot

© Konami

TrueBall tech really impacts the way games feel



Making up somewhat for the lack of official licenses, PES 2014's editing suite also gets a FOX Engine makeover, with the ability to create much more realistic player likenesses and import pictures for customisable kits.

We just wish Konami had spent as much time overhauling the tired old commentary, which felt outdated three years ago, let alone now.

Off-field issues remain PES 2014's biggest problem, lacking that one killer game mode needed to overtake its main rival.

However, the action on the pitch is the best it's ever been, rivalling and arguably surpassing that of FIFA, and setting up a tasty next-generation battle going forward.


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