PES 2017 Review - Don't Call It a Comeback

It's time to admit it: Konami is getting dangerously close to creating the perfect soccer game. With every release, the Pro Evolution franchise takes a small step towards the golden gates. PES 2016 dropped many people's jaw when it was released last year. Unanimously dubbed as the 'sports game of the year', it seemed like they were ready to compete for FIFA's throne. 12 months later, Konami is ready to steal the crown. Not having played EA's annual title yet, I feel confident saying that they have a real chance. Without a shadow of a doubt, I've never played a soccer game that is more crisp, realistic, and fun.

Now, the majority of this review will focus on all the things PES 2017 gets right, so it's only fair to begin with the things that keep the title from reaching a 'masterpiece' status. From top to bottom, it involves broadcasting presentation. The most important rosters are still missing. This time around, Konami has made sure players are able to quickly download a patch from the Internet in order to obtain the correct team names, uniforms, and emblems. Having said that, it's a minor hassle that will undoubtedly keep some users from switching alliances. Although commentary has been improved, it still needs a bit of work. Finally, there are small issues in goal celebrations, including frame drops and occasional pop-ins.

Having said that, the on-court presentation is fantastic. Visually, it's a very pretty game. Players are instantly recognizable, thanks to the good face models. You can particularly recognize the power of the Fox Engine when eyeing athletes and clubs that were scanned. The attention to detail is shocking. From Neymar's tattoos to David Luiz's scars, it's jaw-dropping. Alongside that, exchanges between boots and the ball are realistic, the net is beautiful, arenas are extremely loud & reactive, and the grass looks like its real life counterpart.

The stars of the 'graphics department' are the ton of new, gorgeous animations PES 2017 has included. They make everything from passes, shots, and crosses feel colorful and alive. Nevertheless, my favorite ones are the animations that occur immediately after exchanges between players. After a strong tackle, the victim will immediately begin to signal for a foul and card. On the other side, the culprits will attempt to justify themselves or tell the referee to keep his eyes open, as he missed a previous foul. Once again, it gives authenticity to the entire experience and it brings it to life.

When it comes to gameplay, PES reigns king. The pace this year is a bit slower, which means you must be more meticulous and patient in order to open opportunities to score. Luckily, Konami didn't fix what wasn't broken. Controls are still slick and greatly responsive. Player distinction doesn't go unnoticed, with many footballers moving, reacting, and behaving uniquely. Having said that, some serious improvements have been made on the pitch. Goalkeepers are vastly improved. They will beautifully dive into tough shots with fast reflexes, making numerous incredible saves. AI has also been revamped. They're much smarter. Even at the lower difficulties, they will occasionally impress you with clever combinations and tactics.

On the topic of gameplay, the focus on strategy is yet another significant element. Your formation and strategies are crucial to your success. A late substitution could drastically change the outcome of the match. While teams such as Barca can build plays from the bottom line using the famous 'Tiki-taka', your best chance at coming out on top with Boca Juniors is to get the ball to Tevez and let him do work. The clash of styles and tactics is fascinating, and it makes up for a thrilling experience.

Moving on, there are a ton of modes for you to pour hours into. From the retouched MyClub (PES's answer to EA's Ultimate Team), to the Master League, the UEFA tournaments, and a smooth online experience. Content-wise, there is enough here to keep you busy for the entire season.

Verdict: PES 2017 is a winner. From its smooth gameplay to its fantastic on-pitch presentation, this is ultimately one of the best video game representations of the beautiful game.

The Good
- Crisp and Responsive Gameplay
- Strategic Approach
- On-Pitch Presentation
- Smooth Online

The Bad
- Broadcasting Needs Improvement

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