E3 2013 Preview: Pro Evolution Soccer 2014 is fun, but it needs some work
While at Konami's booth at E3, I spent a little time playing Pro Evolution Soccer 2014. Despite the fact that I don't watch too much soccer, I have played my share of soccer titles, mostly within the FIFA franchise. Those games provide a great experience due to their intuitive controls, but advanced players can definitely take advantage of some deeper mechanics. This was my first time playing a PES game, but I found it to be quite easy to get into despite my lack of familiarity with the series.
Another E3 attendee decided to join me during my time with PES 2014, so I got the chance to play against an actual human opponent rather than taking on the AI. This actually worked out well, as I was able to see what it would be like to play the game in a more competitive fashion with another player. Also, I was quite relieved when this dude told me he'd only played PES demos in the past and wasn't a seasoned veteran.
Despite the mostly simple controls, I was a bit confused by how to switch between the players on the team I'd chosen. It seemed that, despite hitting the correct button, I wasn't always switched over to the player nearest to the ball — or just simply switched over to another player at any given point, for that matter. This was a bit annoying, and my opponent seemed to be having the same problem.
Another issue we ran into was the sub-par AI. Whenever the ball would go off to the side, the players just stood there. Coupled with the fact that it was so odd having to switch between players, this caused something of a major problem. I sincerely hope this was just poor skill on the part of my opponent and I. If not, these issues need to be sorted out ASAP.
Thankfully, when I had control of the ball, everything was simple to grasp. PES 2014 plays pretty much like a soccer game should, which is to say it simulates the actual sport pretty well. Being the offensive player is also pretty smooth for the most part, and performing slide tackles and stealing the ball felt pretty good — not just because I pulled these actions off successfully a few times, but also because it's fun tripping other players. So what if I'm a bit of a dirty player?
What I got from my time playing PES 2014 is that it's a functional and entertaining soccer game. My opponent and I ended up tying with no goals scored on either side, but it was a fun and competitive match from start to finish. Soccer is heralded as a thrilling sport, and PES 2014 emulates a lot of the excitement that's seen in the real deal. If the developer can iron out the few AI and control quirks I encountered during my time with the E3 build, soccer fans can definitely look forward to getting their hands on a really cool game. It's hard to say if it'll successfully compete with FIFA, but it could turn out to be a solid alternative.
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