Review: Pro Evolution Soccer 2017 (PS4)

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Other Formats:

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Format/Hardware Used:

  • PSN Download
  • PS4
  • HDTV
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Title: Pro Evolution Soccer 2017
Format: Blu-ray Disc / PSN (20.64 GB)
Release Date: September 13, 2016
Publisher: Konami
Developer: Konami
Original MSRP: $59.99
ESRB Rating: E
A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review purposes.
PS Nation Review Policy

Gameplay:
Full Disclosure: I have never played a Pro Evolution Soccer game before and it has been well over five years since I played a FIFA game. My review will be from the point of view of a beginner.

For a beginner or casual player, mastering the controls may seem like a monumental task. Luckily there are tutorials that break down the different parts of the game. After completing each tutorial, the player earns a bronze, silver, or gold trophy and the gold is pretty tough to earn on the first try. This high mark provides great motivation for players to retry the tutorials multiple times and have a greater grasp on the different controls and skills.

After completing the tutorials, it will take a few games for the controls to become a reflex instead of having to think about every button press. Nothing is worse than seeing an open player make a great run down the middle of the field and having the player with the ball attempt a chip pass instead of a through ball.

It doesn’t take long to have a basic understanding of the controls. Players don’t have to go any deeper with to have a blast with PES 2017. For those who want even more control over the ball, the controls can be more involved. Instead of a standard cross, players can do high and low crosses.

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There are also controls for close dribbling. It slows down the player but allows for better ball control. For the players who want complete dominion over the ball, there are various ball tricks the player can perform. While these moves are impressive, the controls are more complicated and remind me of combo controls for a fighting game.

“Become A Legend” is a game mode that allows players to create their own player or chose an existing player and start a new career. This sounds great on paper but it has a few flaws. When creating a new player, it makes sense they would have to work their way to a starting position.

… much more fun when you get to play as the whole team …
When the coaches tell you that you are not starting but be ready just in case, you have two options. Just skip the game and hope you start the next one or fast forward through the game hoping for a few minutes of playing time late in the match. After five games this gets really boring.

I had better luck starting with an existing player, Alexis Sanchez from Arsenal, and started all games. I was playing in the Premier League and made the Chilean National team. For a while it was fun, but there is still the problem that I was only controlling the one player.

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Most of the game you are running back to help with defense, the ball gets cleared, and you are running back the other way to be in a position to help with offense. Then when the ball eventually makes its way to my right forward, I had to pass it to someone else or cross the ball into the box.

Who wants to play the whole game with only minimal touches on the ball? The game is much more fun when you get to play as the whole team. I wish there was an option similar to what happens in MLB The Show where you can skip to the next play where your player is involved.

… the menu loads fairly slowly as the games checks for live updates …
My biggest fault with the game overall is the refereeing. A number of times fouls were called against me or yellow cards were given, but the replay shows a clean slide tackle that was all ball. Twice, for straight on slide tackles where contact was made with the ball, the referee went straight to a red card.

While there are numerous offline and online game modes, many have no description of what the mode is. For new players, this is really frustrating when trying to compare all the different modes to find the one they’re looking for. To make matters worse, after selecting a mode the menu loads fairly slowly as the games checks for live updates for all the players.

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Visuals:
A major focus with PES 2017 was taking full advantage of the Fox Engine. Since this is my first PES game, I cannot talk about how much better the lighting engine is, the look of the improved stadiums, crowd models, or weather effects.

These were just a few of the graphical improvements Konami mentions on the reviewer fact sheet. Still, I can tell you that this is one beautiful game. The animations are smooth and the framerate was steady.

… the attention to detail is truly impressive …
The visuals only improve when the camera is zoomed in or during replays. It took me a few games to learn how to play defense. There was no shortage of replays showing me taking out another player by slide tackling them from the side or behind. There were two or three times where the other player flopped around like a ragdoll. Most of the time though, I was impressed with how realistic the two players collided and rolled around on the field.

When the camera is zoomed in the attention to detail is truly impressive. That said, most people will probably keep the camera zoomed out so they can see more of the field, thus limiting the effect of the gorgeous graphics to replays and highlights.

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Audio:
The audio is pretty good overall. The menus have a nice mix of licensed music. The roar of the crowd at the start of the game and the crowd reactions to a great save or aggressive slide tackle really get your blood pumping.

The commentary is one of the weakest parts of the game. It’s well done, but after only a handful of games large parts of the commentary were becoming repetitive. To make matters worse, if you score while they’re talking they have to finish their lines before acknowledging the goal. The instant the ball touches the back of net I should be hearing someone yell “Goal!”

… a beautiful game with great animations and a smooth framerate …
Online/Multiplayer:
The online matches run great and I never encountered any lag. I didn’t change any of the default matchmaking settings, but those who have connection issues can change the network connection restrictions to filter out players with bad connections.

Quick matches are great for beginners and will not affect the player’s record or ranking. However, online play is region locked and it was hard to find matches. I usually had to wait more than five minutes to find one and then I was usually matched up with the same person for a second match. The online competition leagues made it much easier to find matches but, predictably, the competition was at a much higher level.

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Conclusion:
PES 2017 is a beautiful game with great animations and a smooth framerate. The tutorials do a really good job of bringing newer players up to speed on the game’s controls. There are a few minor tweaks that would make the game more friendly for first time players but as it is the game does a good enough job.

The referee AI needs some balancing and only in the most extreme cases should they go straight to a red card. Commentary is something that is brought up in most sports game reviews as something that could be improved and that’s also the case here. More varied dialogue would have helped a lot. Still, these complaints are minor blemishes on an otherwise great game.

Score:
8.5
* All screenshots used in this review were taken directly from the game using the Share functionality on the PlayStation 4.

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