After admittedly taking a step backwards with PES 2014, Konami have come back in full force with Pro Evolution Soccer 2015 on gaming consoles and PC. After countless hours of getting lost in the footballing universe of PES 2015 our review of the game is ready. Read on for our experience in a game we think every soccer gamer should be playing this Christmas and New Year’s period.
After departing from the iOS feel menu of PES 2011 to 2013 in favor of a classic feel last year, Konami has revamped the user interface in Pro Evolution Soccer 2015. This year’s incarnation sees the induction of a very intuitive mosaic-based navigation system that reminds of the EA Sports FIFA 15 menu.
The new menu is easy to use and remembers the game modes that you play the most often and recently on it home screen. This means that you will see your favored game modes when you return to PES 2015 after exiting the game. For example, if you have been attempting to conquer Europe via the UEFA Champions League in your recent PES exploits then that’s the mode that you will see most prominently displayed upon load.
Once in a match the menu is classic PES from the texted based pause menu to the team management screen which is still iOS is appearance.
Our only complaint with Pro Evolution Soccer 2015’s menu is that its broadcast messages are often quite cryptic and sometime not in the best English. We usually ignore them anyway.
Pro Evolution Soccer 2015 doesn’t have a graphics overhaul. While last year’s game was faulted for its gameplay, it did have very good player likenesses, lifelike stadiums and animations throughout. What Konami has done for PES 2015 is tweak these features. The result is an increased number of player faces and bodies that let you identify them without seeing their names. The latest Data Pack of the game has even taken user feedback to update 73 faces.
Player animation is extremely lifelike and realistic. The virtual stars of the world’s game move more like their real world counterparts more than ever before in a PES game. We’ve even got a debate going on here within the Football Fashion team as to whether the Pro Evolution Soccer 2015 animation is better than that of FIFA 15.
The biggest upgrade in PES’ animation for 2015 is a near infinite set of sometime brutal but always excellent physical clashes. In the event of fouls you’ll see some realistic interactions among opposing players including some ill-tempered dealings.
Similarly, Pro Evolution Soccer 2015 continues to bring the most realistic goal celebrations in the football simulation genre of video games. Trademark celebrations that many actual well-known players use punctuate the title.
While goalies have never been the subject of much highlight attention in Pro Evo games, they are now quite emotional. For instance, if Manuel Neuer pulls off a stellar save then expect to see him showing raw passion to celebrate the save and pump up his defenders.
Sadly substitution animations are now totally absent in Pro Evolution Soccer 2015. We’re not totally unsurprised by this since personnel changes have become scarcer just about every year since PES 2011.
Another notably omission if that of pre- match lineups and player handshakes for all matches except cup finals. This applies to both club contests and internationals. While some like to get straight down to match business we are quite fond of pre-match pleasantries. We hope to see a software update fix this.
Perhaps in a move to counter the extensive array on pop music in the EA Sports FIFA franchise Konami has added several of 2014’s biggest hits to PES 2015. This is a nice addition for those who do not appreciate the operatic music and quirky synth tracks of PES 2014. Now you’re treated to the overplayed for some “Wake Me Up” by Avicii, “Best Day of My Life” by American Authors and nine other tracks during your game preparation activities. You can also add you own music to PES 2015 via a media device or server.
Match commentary has never been something that the Pro Evolution Soccer series has been known for. We thought that it is slightly improved this year since the announcers are a bit more in tune with players and actions (e.g. “Robin van Persie with his back to goal). However, the script is still severely limited which leads to commentators seeming quite repetitive after a handful of games played. Switching to other languages (we’ve got Spanish, French and Portuguese options in North America) helps to break the monotony.
Teams and Leagues
Pro Evolution Soccer 2015 now sees the addition of the includes the fully licensed Spanish and French second divisions (Liga Adelante and Ligue 2) along with the unlicensed English and Italian second divisions. That mean that the annual ritual of updating the PES English Premier League and Portuguese Liga team names can be augmented to be a bigger task.
The Spanish La Liga, French Ligue 1, Italian Serie A, Dutch Eredivisie and Argentine Primera are all fully licensed. Brazil’s Campeonato Brasileirão is also present with licensed clubs. However, many teams do not have accurate player names which results in a massive editing exercise.
The world’s major club cup competitions are all back and coupled with PES 2015’s gameplay (more on that later) make its worth its price. Choose from the UEFA Champions League, UEFA Europa League, AFC Champions League, Copa Libertadores or Copa Sudamericana (2013 or 2014). All of the club teams appearing in these tournaments are fully licensed.
Along with the stable of leagues mentioned above, Pro Evolution Soccer 2015 has the series usual old favorites of continental international team cups and the game’s version of the World Cup – the good old International Cup.
The new and possible series-changing addition to PES 2015 My Club. It is Pro Evo’s answer to EA Sports FIFA’s powerhouse Ultimate Team but with a twist. If you’ve played FIFA lately, the best way to describe My Club is as Ultimate Team (minus the glitz, player pack card sounds and flashy menu) meets PES staple Master League.
Like in Master League, you start off with a team that has a starting roster of moderate players (think second division caliber). You use game experience points (XPs) or coins earned from My Club results to sign agents. The agent, in turn, finds players that you can sign for your club. As in the real world there are different grades of agents. The top notch ones can find bigger name players. MyClub players improve by playing together for multiple matches or on same national team.
Within MyClub there are cup and league matches with promotion and relegation. Matches are a bit different from Ultimate Team and Master League in that most of them are against team created by fellow Pro Evolution Soccer 2015 players around the world. Occasionally you’ll run into a club team with its real life rosters.
Thanks to a good in-game, tutorial system MyClub is totally engrossing as you try to build a world class club and earn promotion through the game mode’s divisional ranks. Well done Konami!
Lastly, Pro Evolution Soccer would not be the same without the stalwart Master League. With the introduction of MyClub, Master League has morphed into more of a football management game than ever. Perhaps influenced by EA Sports FIFA, scouts are now present in the game and can be instructed to hit the road in search of your next big star. Nonetheless, Master League is as strong, immersive and as fun as ever.
While the gameplay in PES 2014 was a regression in the series (although we didn’t think it was that bad), Pro Evolution Soccer 2015 see the franchise return to its best with a host of gameplay improvements that make the game an amazing football simulation.
Pro Evolution Soccer 2015 is no longer pick up and play and figure out as you go game once you get to Regular level and above. Indeed, all levels are harder than what they were in Pro Evo 2014 with Amateur being the best level to acclimatize to the game. Once in Regular mode, expect tightly contested affairs by any team rated three stars and up.
Tactics, formations and personnel have to be carefully selected based on opponent. Choose the wrong strategy and you’ll find yourself on the back foot for ninety minutes and most likely on the losing end of proceedings. This is a product of teams in PES 2015 executing managers’ game plans to a tee.
Gameplay in Pro Evolution Soccer 2015 is highlighted by a great deal of fluidity and an organic flow reminiscent of real life games. There are a number of attributes that we think contributes to this. The most obvious are:
The fact that most of the players in PES 2015 are finely tweaked virtual representations that have abilities closing matching their real life abilities.
- The popular Counter Attack approach is the most effective in the game. Although it can sometimes be more Attack than Counter Attack, it works as well for most good teams to create some stunning goals that will have you admiring them via replays. We’ve yet to see two of the same goals in PES 2015. It seems like every one is different and exciting.
- While teams strangely showed no sense of urgency when down in PES 2014, Pro Evolution Soccer 2015 brings back sustained pressure when trailing. This makes for some interesting attempts at out maneuvering defenses in search of tying goals.
- For the attacking pressure we just mentioned, Pro Evo 2015 has smarter defending. This is particularly so in defenders anticipating you passes and moving to intercept them. You’ve got to carefully select your targets and weigh your passes properly in PES 2015 or you will turn the ball over. Add in defenders pulling and obstructing attackers and you have your hands full.
- There is a heavy reliance on using of left joystick for ball-winning in Pro Evolution Soccer 2015. Single or double-tapping the X button is no longer very effective in advanced levels. Instead you have to rely on your jostling abilities to win balls. Once mastered, this can be quite effective.
What all of this amounts to is a slightly slower and scrappier Pro Evolution than over the past couple of years. But it makes for a much more gratifying soccer gaming experience. You have to work for your goals but once you score them you will be immensely pleased. Hit the cross bar and you will find yourself cursing.
A note on international games in Pro Evolution Soccer 2015 – they are tepid affairs! Perhaps Konami has watered down these game to reflect what has happened in real world football lately. As we see all too often nowadays, international friendlies can lack emotion and be slow. International cups are a little more lively and pick up in the knock-out rounds. However, the club game is king in PES 2015. The excitement that you will experience in a UEFA Champions League group stage run in ten times that of the same phase of the International (World) Cup.
Pro Evolution Soccer 2015 is back! This year’s edition takes the series back to the same level it was during its glory days on PES 2007 on PS2. It has enough licensed team and massive tournaments to keep soccer gamers entertained until next year’s release. The action is heart-pounding as rewarding. Our only word of caution is not to play it before bed. Based on our own experience, PES 2015 causes an adrenaline rush that makes it difficult to fall asleep. A splendid effort by Konami.