Pro Evolution Soccer 2018 Review – Become a Legend

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Sep 21, 2017
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GAME INFO

Pro Evolution Soccer 2018

September 13th, 2017
Platform PC, PS4, PS3, Xbox One, Xbox 360
Publisher Konami
Developer Konami

I don’t completely understand Konami. As a company, they’ve burned quite a few bridges with fans of their games. For PC gamers in particular, the company may as well not have even existed. For years their largest releases were victims of absolutely terrible port jobs and hugely overpriced. Pro Evolution Soccer 2018 has bucked the trend and only suffers from one of these issues.

Let’s start with the most pertinent question. What malady of the brain caused Konami to think charging £55 on Steam was reasonable? That’s roughly $75, where the actual dollar price is $60. I can’t start the review without pointing out that no standard digital game is worth £55. Especially one like Pro Evolution Soccer that should be undeniably cheaper to make due to having lower licensing fees than its direct competitor, FIFA.

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Lack of licensing, for a huge portion of the world, returns me to my time of playing cheaper games on the Mega Drive or PlayStation 1. Mostly it just reminds me of earlier Pro Evolution Soccer titles. We all know who the teams are. Red Utd, who happen to have De Gea and Mkhitaryan in their lineup, aren’t going to get confused as being Barnsley anytime soon. It’s strange because what would normally be construed as a minor thing is one of the biggest aesthetic setbacks of the game. Football is all about the appearance and the atmosphere.  Fortunately, it’s easily modded on the PC.

Of course, for some gamers this will always be a sticking point. Taking your team to the top, winning everything, will always feel lacking when you’re not actually controlling them. Only select league names are actually featured, with a limited selection of teams from each league. El Classico in PES 2018 is actually FC Barcelona vs MD White. Fair play, though, they at least wear a white kit with a slight semblance to their real kit. This is more than can be said for a large number of teams.

Further taking away from the atmosphere is the downright atrocious commentary track. Jim Beglin and Pete Drury are certainly better on BT sport than they are in the game, I’ll say that. The problem seems to be that Konami didn’t record enough lines. Also, those they did record are sometimes so out-of-place, it’s unbelievable. The ones that fit can be just jarring. 90% of the games that I’ve scored, or conceded, three goals a huge blast of “MORE AND MORE AND MORE AND MORE” has wrecked my eardrums.

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What should be said is that Konami have delivered on their promise of parity for the PC version. For the first time in years, the series actually looks its best on the PC. The level of detail that’s gone into so many players is impressive, to say the least, and gets a great deal out of the Fox Engine. Especially good is the animation of each and every player, their whole body moving with their control of the ball. The oomph as a defender dives in for a sliding tackle and the inevitable leap of the striker as he looks for the foul.

“Feel everything” could have been an apt tagline for Pro Evolution Soccer 2018. The game has made everything slower, more precise. Your time on the pitch will be more intense than ever before. Every slip, a slight turn where you don’t want to or poorly thought out pass can see the points slip from your grasp. It’s made all the more realistic by improvements to the AI which seemingly react to your play. Passing the ball around your back? They’ll just bide their time for a cheap interception. Running towards the wing? I’ve quickly found the opposition doubling and trebling up to counter my play.

Thankfully, as much as the game has slowed down to feel more realistic, it’s not killed the countering style of football a number of teams play. The way it punishes you for your mistakes never feels like you’re being cheated as well. Frustrated? Definitely. Cheated? Never. I’ve lost count of the times I’ve been punished on the break through losing the ball in the opposition’s half. You’ll not get an insanely fast end-to-end football, but it certainly can be end-to-end at times. You can literally dictate the pace with how good you string passes together, the position you place the ball. Everything is done with more accuracy than any other football game that’s come before.

It’s the unpredictability that comes with the beautiful game that Pro Evolution Soccer has managed to capture once again. That’s really the most impressive thing that can ever be said. This is football, even to the unseen and unscriptable ‘rub of the green’ factor. Much like you, the AI can also control the game. Far from being reactive, even on a lower difficulty setting the opposition are more than capable of guiding the match. More than capable of utilising the players at its disposal, the AI actually makes every game feel unique and like a fresh, new, challenge.

Each and every player actually looks and feels like the real counterpart. At least, as you would expect they feel to control. The superb control of the ball that such as Messi and Ronaldo have. The speed of Valencia. I would say the superb ability of David De Gea, but unlike outfield players, Goalkeepers still seem to be strange. No word of a lie, I had a no-name keeper that managed to save three shots in as many seconds. The first, I can accept. The second? Hard to believe from his position. The third, though, I’m actually certain he dove from a seated position and further than any normal human would be able to manage. The majority of keepers don’t seem to know how to catch either, preferring to knock the ball away.

There are a number of game types that eventually lead you to the pitch. The menus of Pro Evolution Soccer 2018 aren’t exactly the best looking around. However, it’d be harsh and petty to hold it against the game too much. It isn’t, after all, a menu based game like Football Manager. Where the game offers its variety is in Master League, Become a Legend and MyClub. In addition to this, you can run through the process of either the UEFA Champions League or Europa League, or the AFC Champions League. There isn’t a great deal to say about the Champions League and Europa League options available. A tournament is created with the relevant teams, you play through it.

Not without their flaws, I still can’t help but heap praise on the Master League and Become a Legend modes. Master League in particular features just downright silly financial limitations. Your transfer and wage budgets are limited to an almost silly level. Contracts of players can see your star leaving for a fraction of the price you’d expect them to. Placing a player, even one that would go very quickly in real life, on the transfer list can seemingly be the death of any interest in that player. Although the system in place is interesting and can create a compelling experience, especially during the transfer window countdown. The niggles are yet another thing that takes away from the atmosphere of the game.

I may be a standalone person here, but I actively oppose MyClub and the Ultimate Team game modes. I have played both without spending money. In my early days, I even did spend real-cash on Ultimate Team in FIFA. Now, much like the egregious micro-transactions that feature in so many premium priced games, I can’t see them as more than the blatant money-sucking anti-consumer tactics that they are. Fair enough, create it as a standalone free to play game that extends across seasons. But no, every year, every single penny you’ve spent suddenly becomes worthless.

After reported early issues, I can happily say that the online portion of Pro Evolution Soccer 2018 is the best of the series so far. Fortunately, I haven’t encountered any of the bugs people so readily posted about online. Having been able to play a few matches online, I’ve noticed no issues with simply dropping in and out. Multi-player matches (2v2, 3v3) worth with the on-pitch action to promote good teamwork rather than somebody in particular being selfish. There is a league mode also, but not one that I’ve personally taken the time to dive in at great depth as it seems more for the long-term and more active players.

The PC was always going to be a core part of this review. For years now the PC version has been a sub-par port of the older console generation. It was always astounding that the system that can always get the best performance was relegated to having the inferior version of the game. More than that, Konami always had the gall to charge the same absurd price as they are this year. Outside of the egregious pricing, there’s not a great deal to fault with Pro Evolution Soccer 2018.

With the most realistic on-the-pitch action to date, there’s little more praise that needs to be said about the game. Of course, it has its flaws. Licensing has always been an issue, goalkeepers still need to be improved and the commentary simply needs scrapping. Also, some game modes have some perplexing oddities like the team transfer budgets in Master League. Still, these are minor blips for what is otherwise a brilliant game.

PC version Reviewed. Copy provided by publisher. You can buy it via Amazon.

8.5

Pro Evolution Soccer 2018 is, simply, the most realistic rendition of the beautiful game so far. While the atmosphere is lacking and game modes are in need of some improvement. Konami still desperately need to overhaul the commentary and fix the licensing issues. Fortunately, the on-pitch action more than makes up for any problems you may encounter.

Pros

  • Slower, more methodical on-pitch gameplay offers the most realistic football experience yet
  • Looks fantastic on the PC with certain players looking like their real-life counterparts
  • Despite issues, Master League is engrossing in its offering of club management
  • Following its patch, online mode actually works and has modes that actively promote teamwork

Cons

  • Goalkeepers are still either superhuman or unable to catch, regardless of the player, making them stand out against the otherwise realistic on-pitch action
  • Licensing issues as well as the strange figures found in such as manager mode take greatly away from the atmosphere of the game
  • The commentary is downright abysmal
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