Following a very strong debut on the PS4 and Xbox One PES is back for it’s 20th anniversary. Pro Evolution Soccer has always had competition with the best selling soccer game FIFA, but this season PES has been billed as the “FIFA Killer” with many people thinking that PES 2016 has a strong chance to surpass its rival. The question being raised now is, “Can PES actually dethrone FIFA?”. Sports Gamers Online takes a deep dive into PES 2016, with hopes of answering this question.

Gameplay

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Fight for possession whilst controlling the pace of the game

Konami makes it no secret that gameplay is their main focus for the Pro Evolution Soccer series. Animations are one of the main things that are improved from last years title. In 2015, the gameplay lacked animation quality as well as animation quantity, all that is changed when it comes to PES 2016 gameplay. Though the animations are not perfect, they’re much improved making the gameplay more fun overall. Outside-the-foot-passes, flicks and faints are smooth and functional when executed and contribute to the seamless flow of PES. A major improvement does not come without the expense of physicality, a major downfall to last year’s installment, especially with the introduction of a new “Advanced Collision System”. The ugly collisions of PES 2015 are gone. In it’s place are organic experiences in which players fight for possession where the outcome is decided on the factors of rating and stick skills. Each player has their own skills, For every Luka Modric  there is a Lionel Messi or Christiano Ronaldo putting the ball in the back of the net. As well, coverboy Neymar feels amazing while dribbling and tackling with AS Roma’s Danielle Di Rossi feels amazing and realistic.

Though tackling is improved it is no where near to the “Perfect defense” Konami has advertised. In real life, tackling is a mix of timing and patience. In PES 2016 at times you see a lack of that, as the defender doesn’t bother making a run at the player or runs away from the attacker.

For all the good that the collision system brings to the game, there’s one glaring disappointment with that. When deciding what is or isn’t a foul. Sometimes, the defender will make slight contact before wiping out the defender. The play would go uncalled which will result in a delay with the defender and a delay for the disappointed attacker.

Goalkeeping play has been improved as well. There’s a whole new list of animations for goalkeepers that allow them to make more impressive saves. With that being said, there is also some downfalls. Goalkeepers have slow reactions making some keepers near unplayable. On the offensive side of things shooting is tricky to master but once you do so, it becomes overpowered. At times this can be a major downfall to the game because winning is sometimes all too easy. Since the introduction of the Fox Engine in PES 2014, dribbling has been fun to use. Faint’s and quick flicks are executed using the left stick, making them easy to do.

Game Modes

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Master League: PES’s answer to Manager mode has been stale in the recent years and last year was almost unplayable with RPG like items, ridiculous sim scores and annoying cut scenes. When Konami announced a major overhaul there was a rejoice for franchise fans. That would be short lived though when the first tidbit of news was the introduction of a new menu layout.

The mode would get a good update with the addition of player roles, which allow players to choose roles for all their players. As well, boosting financial aspects, such as merchandise sales and the generation of more sponsor income is a nice addition. Live news is in, which gives players an ESPN like ticker with news and small headlines is a cool addition but isn’t really needed. Transfer negotiations of players could use some help, especially when players like Messi are going way under their value.

My Club: Pro Evolution Soccer’s answer for FIFA’s Ultimate Team is back after making it’s debut last year. Though it hasn’t obtained an overhaul there have been some nice additions to the game mode, including a player upgrade systems where player’s stats improve based on their recent games. A new “trainer” feature allows you to improve your players using players that aren’t used on your team, this allows for a use of all players. Signing players remain all based on luck with the return of “white/bronze/silver/gold/black” balls as the only way to acquire players for the duration of the game. The other main game mode, Be A Legend got no major improvements to the game, a minor disappointment on Konami’s part.

Aesthetic

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The weather effects in PES 2016 are as real as ever.

Presentation has taken a step forward with player models and faces. Players can be recognized to a tee, making the need for player names atop the player not needed. As well, starting up games feel amazing. Entering from the tunnels looks and feels authentic which is something that may push some fans over to PES. Celebrations are improved with new ones coming in. Included in the list is the Totti selfie celebration that went viral. As well, you now have the ability to dictate what celebration is used in offline play.

On the downfall, PES 2016 lacks licenses to the biggest league in the world, the Barclays Premier League. As well, the Bundesliga isn’t in the game which is a major downfall to players, including myself. For American players, you will not be able to play with the MLS as the league isn’t in the game. The lack of licensing of the BPL can be fixed with Edit Mode. On Playstation only, you can import about 300 images allowing customization to be done fairly easily but for Xbox users, you have to complete it on your own.

Conclusion

PES has made major steps in the right direction ever since their debut on the PS4 and Xbox One last season. The game was very fun to play and was the most realistic soccer game I have played. PES 2016 takes things a step further and I can honestly say it has finally surpassed its rival FIFA, even though it’s as close as it’s ever been.  Releasing on the 20th anniversary of it’s inception PES 2016 is the best PES to date.

Score: 9 (Great)

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Hopefully you enjoyed our in-depth PES 2016 review. What do you think of this year’s version? Do you believe PES 2016 is better than FIFA 16? Let us know in the comments below and on Facebook and Twitter. As always check back to Sports Gamers Online for all the latest PES 2016 News, Tips and Tricks.