‘Pro Evolution Soccer 2014’ preview: Konami passes on the easy goal and focuses on the long game

PES 2014 0

Sports video game used to be a battleground genre. During its height, there were tens of baseball, football, hockey, and soccer games released every year. Even as we entered the dark times of sports exclusivity in the ‘00s, with EA’s iron grip on the NFL, there was still competition. Soccer especially had its war, with Konami Japan’s Pro Evolution Soccer series holding its own for years against the FIFA Soccer juggernaut. In the past five years, though, Konami’s champion has withered under the increasing quality of EA’s product. 

Ever since FIFA 10, PES has faded from the limelight, tending to a dwindling base of avid fans. PES 2014, however, represents a transition for Konami. While most other sports games are looking towards the next-gen, PES 2014 will only be released on the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and the PSP of all things. It’s both a stop gap measure and a new technological experiment while the team takes its time and prepares to regroup next year for its first Xbox One and PlayStation 4 game.

Story/Concept

PES2014 1

No games, just game. At the base level, PES 2014 is not demonstrably different than FIFA Soccer 14. They both seek to more perfectly simulate the experience of playing professional soccer on the international stage. PES has a conceptual purity, though, as it doesn’t include some of the ridiculous features in the FIFA package. No trading card games here, just soccer. Unfortunately, also absent is the FIFA license, which once again limits the authenticity of the series and means that only a handful of the world’s clubs are present. 

Gameplay

PES 2014 2

Buzzwords ahoy. Pro Evolution Soccer 2014 is overburdened with a plethora of buzzword systems. It’s got “The Core,” it’s got a player personality system that takes into account their emotional state during a season, and it’s got “TrueBall Tech,” which describes the 360-degree range of control around the dribbling of the ball. You can control more than one player at a time, using two to sandwich the ball carrier and try to set up a steal, or other risk-versus-reward scenarios.

For Pros. For all its proprietary tech babble, it’s hard to get a sense of how Pro Evolution Soccer feels compared to FIFA without playing a match. Put simply, it feels less forgiving, at least in a demo setting. FIFA offers such a deep level of control underneath its approachable field game that it’s easy to forget how fun it can be for a novice. PES feels more demanding when you first pick up the controller, which could please hardcore football fans.

Presentation

PES 2014 3

A “next-gen feel.” The big technological shakeup on the series is the introduction of the Fox Engine, the video game development tech made by Kojima Productions for Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain. PES creative producer Kei Masuda told me during the demo that even though the game isn’t on Xbox One and PlayStation 4, using the Fox Engine gives PES 2014 a “next-gen feel.”

New textures on players, new grass effects on the field, sweat literally dripping from players brows. The presentation is beefed up considerably despite the old tech. Ultimately, though, these are cosmetic changes, not big changes to how the soccer itself feels. The benefits of the new technology depend on what you want out of the game.

Takeaway

Pro Evolution Soccer 2014 is not going to topple the FIFA empire, but it is a brave game despite that fact. Masuda also said that his team is taking its time to learn the ins and outs or the new consoles, rather than rush out a new product on unfamiliar hardware. That patience could yield fine results by the time PES 2015 makes it out. This year, though, EA still controls the ball.

Gaming

Path of Exile’s Synthesis expansion arrives in March, brings new way to progress

Grinding Gear Games announced Synthesis, the newest expansion to online action-RPG Path of Exile. The expansion adds a new map meta-game, new items, and balance changes that improve the lives of wizards.
Gaming

One game console is better than the rest, and we're not afraid to say it

We've seen a relatively large influx of new consoles in the last year, including the Nintendo Switch and Xbox One X, so we've updated our recommendations for the best dedicated game hardware.
Gaming

These are the must-have games that every Xbox One owner needs

More than four years into its life span, Microsoft's latest console is finally coming into its own. From Cuphead to Halo 5, the best Xbox One games offer something for players of every type.
Gaming

Your PlayStation 4 game library isn't complete without these games

Looking for the best PS4 games out there? Out of the massive crop of titles available, we selected the best you should buy. No matter what your genre of choice may be, there's something here for you.
Gaming

Apex Legends adds its first new gun, the Havoc energy rifle

Respawn added the first piece of new content to Apex Legends, the Havoc energy rifle. It's available now for PS4, Xbox One, and PC players. The fully automatic rifle can be modded to shoot single-shot energy beams.
Gaming

Samsung Galaxy S10 optimizations make it great for Fortnite

Samsung's new line of Galaxy S10 devices have been optimized for gaming. All three offer improved support for the Unity engine and the S10 Plus also offers vapor chamber cooling, similar to the Xbox One X.
Gaming

Having problems with your Xbox One console? We have the solutions

The Xbox One has evolved over the years, but so have its problems. Thankfully, we have solutions for some of the console's most enduring problems, whether you're experiencing issues with connectivity or your discs.
Gaming

Did Pittsburgh's Antonio Brown fall victim to the Madden Curse?

Join us as we take a tour through the long-running history of the Madden Curse -- and Tom Brady's recent accolades. We all know John Madden is a longtime NFL talent, but is he also an agent of dark forces?
Gaming

These are the coolest games you can play on your Google Chrome browser right now

Not only is Google Chrome a fantastic web browser, it's also a versatile gaming platform that you can access from just about anywhere. Here are a few of our favorite titles for the platform.
Gaming

Need help getting the Sleeper Simulant in Destiny 2? We’ve got you covered

The Sleeper Simulant is one of the coolest new Exotic weapons you can unlock in the Warmind expansion of Destiny 2, but it's an involved process that will take awhile. Here's everything you need to know.
Gaming

Want to trick out your PlayStation 4? These themes will get you started

Personalize your gaming experience with some of our favorite themes for the PlayStation 4, including free, paid, static, and dynamic options. Fan-favorite third-party and exclusive games are also included.
Gaming

Fortnite squads up with Ninja, Chan, and Samsung for exclusive K-pop skin

The Galaxy S10 Plus has features that make it great for mobile gaming and just like last year, Fortnite and Samsung have joined forces to bring an exclusive K-pop skin to the phone. Here's how you can get it.
Computing

Between Intel and AMD, these are the best gaming CPUs at every price

What are the best processors for gaming you can buy? You don't need to spend a fortune to get an amazing gaming CPU and now that AMD is competitive again, there are more choices than ever.
Virtual Reality

HTC Vive Focus Plus makes it easier for developers to port PC content

HTC Vive has announced the Vive Focus Plus headset. The upgraded stand-alone headset makes use of "six degrees of freedom" support in controllers for a PC-like virtual reality experience.