PES 2015 – Did it reach the EA bar?

I recently bought Pro Evolution Soccer 2015 in the Black Friday Amazon sale, for the lovely price of £25, after weeks of thinking long and hard about it. I’ve had time, now, to sink my teeth into the biggest competitor to FIFA and EA sports for soccer/football… and I was pleasantly surprised. I’d heard mixed things about the demo from guys I play FIFA with, but I’ve enjoyed my time so far with my old favourite.

I first played the PES series back at PES 2, released all the way back in 2002 – due to my disillusion at playing FIFA due to it going a bit downhill, plus I like trying different companies attempts at sports games – for example I often flit between EA and 2K Sports for NHL. PES quickly became my favourite of the two – I loved Master League in particular, but I didn’t actually care about not having the licensing rights for England. I always played Pro Evo during the Christmas break – having two weeks to just sink my teeth into a proper Master League save was fantastic, I loved starting off with the set players; Huylens, Espimas, Ximelez and Iouga are 4 that stick with me throughout – Iouga often being booked.

Well I’m glad to say that the Master League is just as good as I remember it; the players are different compared to PES 2 through 6, but some players are reminiscent of these legends, Stramberg similar to Stremer, for example, at the heart of the defence. The league system is still the same, start in Division 2 and earn promotion, but this time they’ve removed PES point for actual money currency to buy players, but still, you choose your team of choice, I’ve chosen FK Partizan Belgrade and leagues of your choice, I’m in France, where Konami has a license for team and player names, plus it’s a league I know quite a small amount about.

So I’ve got used to Pro Evo again now and that’s the biggest struggle I’ve had with a sports game since I first played a Madden game… getting used to Pro Evo after years of none of it with many, many hours in FIFA, was surprisingly tough. Tackling really takes some getting used to; I seemed to miss so many at the start, despite being 3-0 up with Real Madrid in the demo game you play whilst waiting for it to finish installing, it ended 3-3. I had 2 people sent off, with 4 more on bookings, I just couldn’t make a legitimate tackle at the start. But, I learned my lesson from that, pretty much no slide tackling! The only other negative I have is the penalty system and particularly penalty shootouts… wow are they bad! I took one penalty, which I thought I’d put bottom right, which went dead center, with the keeper opening his arms to let it go right through them. Ridiculous; power has a huge say in it apparently, you can’t do them too light as it makes them do the weakest strike you can imagine, plus it doesn’t go any direction. I’d quite like a ‘Pro Clubs’ mode, but with MyClub being introduced, which is PES’ version of Ultimate Team, this might be in the works for the future.

On the other hand, the positioning and closing down of players, is so much better. I’d forgotten how unrealistic FIFA can be, with the stepping up or 4 people chasing one attacker that can occur, whereas, PES the players are so much more disciplined and in position, closer to how a professional player would be. The passing is more realistic in terms of the way the players line up a pass and execute it, as with the shooting – however, the shooting positioning isn’t too good; they don’t really seem to strike for the corners when I get one on one, well, not in a way to hit the target at least.

PES also has a coach mode for the leagues, but unlike FIFA where you have the lineups and the clock counting the minutes, you can either watch the game actually play out, with the ability to make subs, or you can watch it in a similar vein to the old football managers, in terms of little circles being on the pitches. The messages you get are cool too; it’s nice to get notice when a specific player is looking likely to grow if you keep playing him, so you do. As well as this, there are a few different ways to do the lineup which is cool, based on ability, form/performances, unedited, or a manual change. Training is also available to players in your team, which again can be general, or in a specific category – which is good to use on your youth team… which is slightly differently done to how it’s done in FIFA. The youth players are just there, for you to sign to a contract if you feel like…but what’s weird is that there were two people in my youth team that were higher than my starting 11 version, so I quickly promoted these. One of these youth was very low tactically, so that’s what I’ve been using his training to increase.

I’ve loved playing PES again after quite a few years of not having the latest additions to the franchise, although it felt really weird with the changed buttons! Perhaps the first thing I changed in the game! One final thing to note, I saw an update yesterday…4 new teams added, as well as an additional 73 player faces; it’s great to have a game that gets updates like this for free, without having to pay extra for the teams to be added!