Love or hate Konami, at least they deliver a pretty good soccer game from year to year, and PES 2018 is really no exception to that rule. FIFA 2018 may be officially licensed, but that doesn’t stop some competition coming out of the woodwork to ruffle the feathers and deliver a unique soccer game experience. PES 2018 is a nice modest leap over last years release and polishes up on a game that was already good just a year ago. So is this game this years definitive soccer experience? Let’s find out.
FEEL THE BALL. BE THE BALL.
While most sports title games can feel “on-rails” with ball physics as well as snappy and/or predetermined, PES 2018 implements a system they call “RealTouch+” to counter-act that. Its very similar to last years “RealTouch” implementation but allows for a more real sense of ball handling that detects body parts much better and reacts in a more believable way. The movement of the player versus the ball handling actually feels like it carries significant weight, even if you aren’t using the best ball handlers on your team. This is possibly the best leg-up on FIFA and what will once again make or break which game you ultimately decide to go with. That being said, if you disliked the previous PES games, you might be swayed by the crazy ball detection but there is still a chance you wont.
Where FIFA 2018 and its ball handling is “over-simplified”, it does have mechanics in place that will make it much easier to match up weaker players against a stronger attacker/defender. You can sort of shield yourself and make a worthy push in FIFA 2018 but contrast with PES 2018, you have to sort of weasel the ball and hope you can out-footwork your defender. The stat differences really make an impact in a match so you can guess that being left with more advanced ball handling does come with that negative caveat. Whether its the AI or just a pure skill check, you will often times be outplayed by a better player with few options to counter it. In reality, this makes a lot sense by putting actual stat match-ups when pushing the ball toward or defending against. Speaking of AI, the goalies can sometime make really simple mistakes and miss balls that leave your head scratching (whether intentional or not it might be something worth looking at).
Player models look good despite having to battle licensing issues and that whole mess. The use of 3D facial scanning coupled with the incredible and visual power of the Fox Engine there are some really impressive details to be found all around. The stadiums look very good with a nice sense of depth and crowd simulation. It would be a lot better if the crowd didn’t look like it was animated at 14 FPS, but what can you expect from such a dense crowd? Its even impressive to see PES 2018 still looking sharp on the older systems like the PS3 and Xbox 360.
The past generation must be a sizable market for sports games because we see them get support long after shelf life is done for them; FIFA does it and PES does it, but it does at face value seem to strain some visual leaps that could be made in the superior versions because of. FIFA 2018 made a very noticeable leap from last year, player detail wise, but still some could say that Konami’s face scanning approach really makes player models looks more alive. Its baffling how well the PS3/360 versions look but at closer inspection, they aren’t too far off from the PS4/XBONE counterparts (with maybe an added layer of shine and sweat). PES 2018 wins in the player detail compartment but falls short with grass detail, lighting, and minor stadium details that make it feel somewhat unbelievable.
NOTE: If given more time to focus on the smaller details, rework lighting, cloth physics, and crowd smoothing (which by the way looks better than FIFA right now anyway)… you could have a far superior visual experience for game-play and presentation. Its just a hunch that the older version seem to hold these things from being possible or maybe not put on a higher rating of importance. The faces are definitely there and so is the ability to make everything else excel too! Also let us mention the UI. The basic look is okay for most things but maybe spruce it up a bit so everything isn’t so devoid and colorless. FIFA is definitely murdering you on that.
CREDIT: ZAN OMG
To put it bluntly, its under-average. The crowd audio is very much to be desired and a lot of people are complaining about the in-game commentary. We would have to agree and say it gets old pretty fast and seems like its mostly recycled lines from last years iteration. This is definitely an area that could use some improvement as well as the included soundtrack. Visuals are fine and dandy but the audio work is as important if not more in some cases!
RESPECTABLE MODES RETURN
MyClub is back and with it comes new 3 on 3, 2 on 2, co-op, and new head to head options! This can be a fun mode when it works right, but some have reported that input lag and connection issues have really bogged the experience on the opening week. However, at the time of this review, there was no crippling lag that alternated the enjoyment of the online modes. Your experience may vary due to internet connections and all sort of variables. Here is to hoping its been addressed by Konami for everyone.
NOTE: Combating the lack of licensing, players still have the customization options of last game that allow you to edit players and even logo designs! You might have expected it but we are here to confirm it. Great addition to fill in that gap. It’s still shareable with other online as well!
Master League makes a return but its mostly the same experience from before with a few small changes here and there. The layout of the menu is a lot better than PES 2017 so credit to that. The budgeting system is still a little iffy when managing your team so new player are going to be in for the same shell shock as before and transferring players will be a nightmare to wade through. You can customize training for your players now, which is a nice addition and might help being stuck with such a low transfer budget. Got to work with what you got, right?
What might be a nice refreshing change in a new challenge system where you might have differences with players on your team. You’ll have to work to keep your players happy and resolve disputes. It’s something to keep you on your toes and put a dynamic in there; good effort on that!