Title: Pro Evolution Soccer 2016
Platforms: Xbox One, PlayStation 4, PC (reviewed on Xbox One)
Developer: PES Productions
Release Date: Out Now
Price: $59.99/59.99 Euro
Tagline: A wonderful recreation of the most beautiful game blemished by a few potmarks
Family Friendly: Click here to read more
Verdict: Buy It Already
You know those out of town relatives that live out of town? You see them once every so often, but when they come in they are a ton of fun and you wonder why you don’t see them on a more regular basis? Yeah, that is my general experience with the Pro Evolution Soccer series going back to when it was still called Winning Eleven on the PC. It is a series that I have always enjoyed when I have sat down to play it, but it never seems to stick with me, as I end up finding my way back to the vastly more popular FIFA series. Pro Evolution Soccer 2016 isn’t all that different this time around, as it is a fantastic experience that soccer fans should love, but might miss due to a few lacking features.
As an on the field soccer experience, Pro Evolution Soccer 2016 might be the best way to experience the most beautiful sport. As you take up the controls of a singular player, or controlling an entire team, there is a certain flow and speed on the pitch whether you are passing, shooting or moving players into position for that perfect cross. AI players react to your play in a realistic manner, anticipating that perfect set pass, and they also react to your movements in kind. Soccer is a sport that is easy to recreate in theory by any developer, but it can be difficult to capture the nuances of subtle movement around the field, and Pro Evolution Soccer has nailed that kind of prediction and style that you would expect from great teams on the pitch.
All of this realism helps with the outcomes of matches, one of the things that always irritated me when playing the competition. Pro Evolution Soccer’s realistic capture of soccer leads to matches that are focused more on the back and forth ebb and flow and not on constant shots on goal. As with real life, matches often end in 1-0 wins or 0-0 draws rather than seven goal blowouts. One of the less realistic things that penalties seem to be almost non-existant here, as I rarely if ever heard a whistle calling out an infraction on the field. Through three matches, I had a total of two whistles and one of those was due to a deliberate tackle I laid down to see if I could force a whistle, which worked.
Pro Evolution Soccer 2016 offers up a large assortment of gameplay modes with many of them filling in the roles you would expect from a soccer title. You have the create a pro mode, online modes and even the vaunted Master League for those that want to build a franchise from the ground up. Nothing out of the ordinary here, although I am very thankful it does not push and pressure to buy cards or add-ons for the game. Everything you need to play is right here and laid out in a clear and precise manner.
Complementing the clean, well designed interface is some of the best looking stadiums and characters in a console based sports game. I went through the create a character interface and Pro Evolution Soccer offers up a ton of combinations and they leave you with a fantastic looking creation. A sports game can live and die on its visuals and watching the replays of a match or during the heat of a competitive match, the game never loses its visual splendor.
And yet with all of its brilliance in presentation, spectacle and gameplay, Pro Evolution Soccer 2016 falls flat on two of the most basic things that comes from a successful video game franchise – teams and rosters. While you have 19 different leagues to choose from when playing in any of the gameplay modes, only a handful of them offer up real, authentic teams. Sure, you have Manchester United from the Premiere league but none of the other 19 teams from the league are here. That theme continues throughout almost every league in the game, as they are littered with fake teams, which breaks the immersion of those that want real teams in their sports title. Sure, it is not a detriment to the on the field game, but for many, it can be a deal breaker.
Bigger still is the notion that while I can sort of live with fake teams, Pro Evolution Soccer is not keeping up on regular updates for its rosters, with the game sometimes being weeks to months behind actual roster. Rosters are the one thing that sports games need to get correct, and delays or being behind on the one thing that is required in a sports game is a cardinal mistake.
Another weird oddity and I only saw this during my play on Xbox One was that the game would occasionally hitch up and freeze for a second or two at a time. It didn’t happen every match, and it came rather randomly, but when it would affect a match, it would continue through the end of that match. It did not seem to make a different whether it was on the internal hard drive or an external drive, it happened regardless during random matches.
Even with these oddities, Pro Evolution Soccer 2016, provides players with one of the most realistic on the pitch experiences that you can find on a console or PC. It is well designed product that is jam-packed with quality graphics and a host of gameplay modes. Its teams and roster updates put it behind the curve, but if you can look past these items, you will find a gem of a game in Pro Evolution Soccer 2016.
- The on-field motion of the game might be the finest in gaming
- The Fox Engine is used to stunning effect
- An extensive library of gaming modes to play
Captain Robert Hatch:
- Where are the penalties
- Odd stuttering during random matches
- Sadly missing some of the key leagues
Pro Evolution Soccer 2016 being a sports game should be considered pretty safe for all ages. No real violence to be had here, especially considering the almost non-existent penalties and no real foul language whatsoever. I mean the worst offender here are the classic pratfalls by players that act like they have been shot when trying to get a foul. Everyone can plan to have fun here.
This review was prepared using retail Xbox One code provided by Microsoft.