Note: Before you start reading this review, it would be prudent for you to know that I’m an ardent football fan and a loyal FIFA fan. My only interactions with the PES franchise have been limited to a few times before 2008 and to PES 2016. Therefore, I may not be the PES purist per se in my review of the game. However, I have been quite honest as to how I would like a football game to be on a PS4.
Feel free to leave comments below or add in any of your opinions into this honest PES 2017 review. Please also note that I haven’t reviewed the game’s online features firsthand.
Console: PlayStation 4
When I put the PES 2017 disc into my console, I was quite excited about giving Pro Evolution Soccer a fair chance of impressing me. Over the years, I have heard quite a bit about how PES is less flash and better play, unlike its ostentatious rival, FIFA.
Now to be fair to PES, I was quite impressed by the opening graphics and I was a bit peeved with the Barcelona-centered branding. (I’m a United fan). Putting aside my club loyalties, I made up my mind that the graphics were of a 2017-level and I wasn’t playing any poor man’s alternative to FIFA.
Following my moral trepidation with the opening , I wanted to really get into the game. So after changing the controls to the more familiar (alternative; FIFA default), I got into the Kick-Off mode to try the game in its most straightforward format.
And, PES 2017’s biggest issue hits me in the face.
THEY DON’T HAVE LICENSES.
I COULDN’T CHOOSE MANCHESTER UNITED.
Nor could I choose any team from the Premier League except Arsenal (maybe) and Liverpool (NEVER!). In fact, from across the other popular teams, you can’t choose Juventus, Real Madrid, Bayern Munich…not even, Tottenham Hotspurs. If you’re to choose one of these teams, you would have to settle for unlicensed representations of the clubs like Manchester Reds (for United) or North East London (for Tottenham Hotspur). Ain’t that sad?
Once, I got over this (in my opinion) major drawback, I was able to kick-off with two licensed clubs viz. Arsenal vs Barcelona. I was quite hopeful once the game started with the voices of Jim Beglin and Peter Drury (modern day EPL commentators), but after kicking off and playing about 65 minutes of my game, the second major drawback struck me.
One really couldn’t enjoy the joy of shooting the ball or lobbing a through ball in PES 2107. Why? Because, the ball flight is not quite clear in the game. It was more of a knee-jerk kind of game play when it came to the ball physics.
Ironically, some of PES 2017’s greatest strengths are also in the simple aspects of its game play. More often than not, your pass or lob would always reach the intended recipient/target. Some might say that’s just making it easy, but I say, what’s a game if you can’t even complete a pass, when you know where you want it go.
This strength on PES’s part is much better than FIFA’s passing engine which went astray when it started involving the R1 button for making straightforward passes. In FIFA 17, like one’s girlfriend, you may press all the right buttons but not get the desired response in terms of passing or dribbling. PES 2017’s defensive AI is another winner as well. However, it’s a bit unnatural how fast you can win the ball back from your opponent.
Graphics-wise, PES 2017 is great and I think, one of my favorite additions to the game are the celebrations. Another pleasing aspect of the game are how the replay options come up on scoring goals.
Coming to the online realm of the gaming, I was pleased to see consensus across all platforms on how PES 2017 is generally lag free and seamless to play.
Such is the world that PES 2017’s greatest strength falls short only because of it’s greatest weakness. According to me, the ability to play the UEFA Champions League on PES 2017 is quite amazing and better than anything I have seen on FIFA’s offerings. That being said, the Champions League is no fun without all the teams that traditionally make it up. If you’re not catching my drift, I’m simply trying to say that if PES sorts outs its licensing issues with all the teams (which doesn’t seem likely in the next few years, at least), it will have an unbeatable offering for any football gaming fan.
All in all, I quite like how indi PES 2017 is and the arcade-ish feel to it has to the user. But in the same breath, I still have to be honest to what I expect from a football game and I feel it feels a bit empty with all the official licenses.
Editor’s Note: If you know what you’re doing, you can easily download the other teams and have a fuller version to your PES 2017. Here’s how you can do that!