Since EA’s FIFA series has the majority of the licensing agreements with the top clubs in the world, most people tend to gravitate towards that. I have to admire Konami for not using that as an excuse to not put out this game annually to go head-to-head with the EA juggernaut. However, all the admiration in the world can’t help you enjoy the game or want to spend time with it until you change how you look at P.E.S. Hit the jump to see how the game feels and what that change is.
From the moment the game disc loaded up, I felt overwhelmed by the sheer amount of options and settings I was forced to select. This is BEFORE I got to the main menu screen shown in the screen above (which is its own brand of confusing). I don’t mind adjusting settings, but I like to do them at my convenience, not be forced to set my nickname, create an avatar, and pick out his kit. Once you get past that, you find that there is no sense of flow to the menu system. I know most of us don’t spend much, if any, time in the menus, but the time we do spend should be streamlined instead of bland, uninspired, and a mess. There are THREE different options for playing a match. Was one not good enough? After literally 5 minutes of fiddling, I was FINALLY allowed to go to the practice mode and found where the magic of P.E.S. happens.
The control scheme is not beginner friendly in the slightest, but if you take the time to learn and practice it, you’ll be pulling off some of the most realistic moves I’ve ever seen in a soccer game. Some of the things you can do seem downright surgical in their execution, which helps when surrounded by defenders or trying to prod and find the weakness of the defense. After learning how to make it work, the manual passing and shooting felt like the only way to ever play.
Another aspect of P.E.S. that really drew me in was the attention to detail on the the character models for the players. While in most sports games, the character models look close to their real-life counterparts, P.E.S. has the models look uncannily similar. This carries over to Career mode, where the aforementioned avatar comes into play. Again, P.E.S. goes the little extra bit to make the experience more immersive by having fully rendered cutscenes in between practices, matches, and the offseason. Instead of little pop-ups that tell you when you have a meeting or your goals for the upcoming match, etc., you have a personal assistant that comes into your office and tells you your schedule. This really added a sense of realism to the mode and made me want to play it more. It might get boring and repetitive after multiple seasons, but the time I had with it was great.
My main experience with the game was struggling for a while then finding a gem that made me want to keep playing, rinse and repeat. I realized why P.E.S. felt different from the soccer games I was used to playing when I stopped thinking of it as a soccer “game”. It’s a soccer SIM tailored towards the hardcore soccer fans around the world. So P.E.S. isn’t a very good game, but it is a great sim. It’s a little disappointing because if Konami were to make this more accessbile to the casual fans by making it a bit less of a sim and a bit more of a game, they would find themselves sitting on top of the sports game pile.
[+Control scheme makes you feel like a surgeon] [+Great detail in facial graphics] [+Career mode not just a bunch of headlines and menus] [-Control scheme not beginner friendly] [-Menu systems are confusing] [-Will only be appealing for hardcore soccer sim fans]