PES 2017: Like coming home

This isn’t a review and it was never meant to be. The target audience for this game won’t be really interested in the thoughts someone like me could have regarding this title. Even if I do enjoy football as a sport and therefore I also have fun while playing sport video games about it, I’m certainly not as devoted as the majority of people who buys these games yearly.
And that’s another thing I should mention I guess. Even if I enjoy football games, I don’t buy one every year. I usually wait 2 to 3 seasons to pass by before I get my hands on the next one as neither the roster of players nor the features of the games change that much from one year to the next. I don’t judge the people who do buy them though. If those are your favourite games out there… I understand you. It’s just that there’s too many games out there for me to devote myself into a single series and I just find perfectly comfortable playing FIFA 15 (which actually came in 2014) in 2016.

That example right there (FIFA 15) isn’t a coincidence as it explains the very motive of this article. The last football game I bought before this PES2017 was FIFA15 and before that one it was FIFA13 and before that one it was FIFA10… however, ISS Pro Evolution was clearly one of my childhood games and I can proudly admit that not a single FIFA game ever entered the tray of my PS2. On the other hand, I can also say that I never went and bought any Pro Evolution game for my PS3 and it’s almost 10 years since I’ve had it. Why? Because they were absolutely terrible.

Granted that I never actually bought any of the games, I couldn’t be sure of the quality of them but I never lost hope on the franchise. Year after year when the football season started I went and downloaded the demos for both of those major football franchises. I witnessed the FIFA games implementing some amazing animations and physics that obviously got polished during each consecutive year while PES always struggled to offer an even experience so I just gave up on them and bought the FIFA games instead.
At one point, I actually got to play a final product as in may 2014, PES2014 was offered on the Playstation + program. I had tried the demo previously but there was still a gleam of hope inside me that maybe the finished game could be better. Nowadays games get improved very often with patches and such, was it so crazy to think that I could enjoy the game?
I downloaded it, played around 10 matches or so and then simply deleted it from my hard drive. What was wrong from that game? The very core. It boggles my mind to think that during this dark PS3 era, the Pro franchise managed to keep some sort of a fanbase when the core gameplay was so awful.
The animations were really behind the competition, the blending between them was jarring but they weren’t any good whatsoever by themselves. You could see players were running all stiff as if they had a broomstick stuffed up their asses.
Also, in some aspects of the game you could notice the influence of the competition in details like the physics they were trying to implement. But, even if in FIFA you still get some hilarious glitched moments from time to time, PES still would have had to rework it from the ground up. To exemplify it simply, players momentum was random (or it seemed to be). You could have the same player trying to start a run from a stop and the results would vary at what seemed pure random. Sometimes he’d struggle to start moving, other times he’d just rush right away as if some invisible spring catapulted him forward.

I don’t want to be to negative however. If this article is being written in the first place it’s because I went back to this series and I don’t find it terrible. It’s not perfect by all means, the licensing leaves a lot to be desired (even if the community will have you covered on that), referees make very absurd decisions, the online needs a little more stability and the animations, though they are improved, I still find them clearly behind from the competition.
But the thing is, the core gameplay is great. It’s fast and responsive and the Master League gives FIFA’s career mode a run for its money. Playing it I can’t help but wonder how could Konami get the game so wrong back in the PS3 era. Could it be that the consoles weren’t powerful enough to handle the physics they were really trying to implement? If so, you would have guessed that they’d cut corners somewhere else instead of making the experience so clunky but anyhow, I digress.
Nowadays I find myself playing this title everytime some friend comes over and, it may some some nostalgia for the PS1 and PS2 era but, I’m actually having more fun with this quirky japanese soccer simulator than I had with the much more polished EA’s titles from last gen.

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