PES 2016 is by far the best Pro Evolution Soccer game of the last decade, without a doubt. The high scores and great reviews are certainly worthwhile and for the first time since the PS2 era, it may just edge FIFA as the must have football game. If you have any interest in football, you would already know all this and chances are you probably own the game. I am not going to waste your time by going over and saying the same stuff everyone else has said. Why? Because all these reviews are for the PS4 and Xbox One version of PES, so what about us PC gamers? How does PES shape up for us?
In all honesty, it is a mixed bag. I want to love PES and to be honest, I do. PES 2016 is a good game. It’s just not great on PC. Despite this, I have already sunk nearly 30 hours into it and I can’t stop. So what’s the problem you may ask? Konami. Konami is the problem and with this PC “hybrid”. They have seriously let down PC gamers and fans. It is a last-gen port of what should have been a current-gen game.
Before I start properly, if you own a current-gen console and our wondering if PES 2016 is worth a purchase, it most certainly is. You don’t even need to think about it. If you are a PC user however, you may want to think twice. The gameplay is said to be the same as current-gen consoles, I can’t confirm nor deny that but if you expect at the very least, the same game as console gamers, move on. From this point on, this review will only talk about the PC version. I promise. Unlike Konami, I won’t lie to you…
If you sat me down and made me play a match in PES 2015 on PC, then play a game of PES 2016 straight afterwards and asked me what has changed, I would reply with, not much. The difference in gameplay is minimal, it feels like PES 2015. Last year’s game wasn’t bad, I enjoyed it a lot but with regards to actual gameplay it is very similar. There is nothing fundamentally different. It’s just a reskin and even at that, Konami have failed miserably.
Teams & Licensing
PES 2016 has more licenses than ever, but it still isn’t enough. However I do understand that with FIFA owning all the licenses for the Premier League amongst others, Konami’s hands are tied. Despite this, why can’t they at least make kits the same colour and somewhat similar to the teams they are representing? Any game which doesn’t have licenses I have played throughout the years at least has kits that look vaguely similar at the very least? It just makes PES’ lack of licenses all the more glaring and obvious. It almost seems as if this year, Konami just randomly clicked on different designs and colours for every team and said that will do. No it won’t Konami. No it won’t.
Which brings me onto more laziness. Squads aren’t updated. It seems that not one single transfer during the window has been reflected in game. I am playing with the exact same teams I was in PES 2015 just days before 2016 released. Toby Alderweireld playing for Southampton still? Oh please! I just don’t understand how you can release a football game over a month into the new season and not update the squads. It’s lazy. It’s bloody lazy. I know PES has never been the quickest out of the block when it comes to updating the squads in time for release but it took me an hour to get most of the Premier League transfers sorted myself. If your working conditions have improved and you are paying well, I’ll come and update all the squads for you for PES 2017, Konami?
There is a silver lining though to all this and that is that with the PC version comes the saving grace. Modders. Real competitions, teams and kits are only a download away thanks to the relentless work PES modders put into the game. If it wasn’t for them, I’d have to spent hours myself editing very poorly the kits for the English Premier League. Still, I bet my basic kits wouldn’t have looked any worse than Konami’s.
Even without modders, anyone can edit anything in PES easily. Some tweaking is needed to get things sized up correctly, but I had no problem adding in all the correct logos while I wait patiently for a professional modder to do it properly. I was even able to quickly edit the kits so that they look as close to real-life as someone with my lack of experience can get them. Here is one of my attempts. See, anyone can do it. No? Okay…
On the Pitch
Like I have already mentioned above, the gameplay hasn’t fundamentally changed. It remains very similar with the addition of new animations. The animations are great and really make the game feel more alive. PES’ Player ID system also means that the top players have specific moves and animations based on how they run and kick the ball. Cristiano Ronaldo will run like Cristiano Ronaldo and kick the ball like Cristiano Ronaldo. Arjen Robben looks and plays like Arjen Robben. This is one area that PES really does excel in and this year more players than ever have that uniqueness to them. Not only that, but each player feels like a different individual. In FIFA, you could substitute anyone and you wouldn’t notice a difference tactically or gameplay wise. In PES 2016, things very much change based on who comes off and who comes on. I loved that for once, I was substituting based on tactics and strategy rather than just out of fitness every single time.
Goalkeepers have long been the thorn in PES’ side and thankfully the past few years they have undergone a massive revamp. This year, they feel improved and better but at the same time, they are still poor. Very poor. It feels too easy to score. You can predict before you shoot whether or not you will score most times. They also annoyingly, come too far out of their box too often to clear the ball, even more so Manuel Neuer. Even when they do this unrealistically and clear the ball with feet instead of picking it up when it lands in the area, every player seems to be able to strike the ball like Dejan Stanković did when he scored that stunner for Inter Milan against Bayern thanks to Neuer’s mistake back in 2011. Animation wise though, 9 times out of ten goalkeepers move, dive and save fantastically. That 1/10, they revert back to the old PES method where they try to make a save with that ridiculousness lunge of the legs like this:
Referees. Where do I start? They have the hardest job in the world. If only in real-life their job was as easy and relaxed as it is in PES. I bet Mike Dean and Mark Clattenburg (who should be banned from refereeing Southampton matches may I add!) are envious when they load up PES 2016 and see how little they would have to do if only they were in a video-game. I bet they can’t wait to get into a video-game. Oh wait, they are! FIFA. Let’s cut to the chase, referees in PES 2016 are just shit. It seems a foul is only a foul when committed by you with the AI seemingly having slipped a brown envelope into the referees changing room at Konami Stadium without anyone noticing, every damn game. In my 30 hours of playing, I still have not been given a single penalty and only a handful of free-kicks. Part of the problem is the AI makes a serious lack of fouls and when they do, the referee seems to be eyeing up that blonde in the crowd and managed to miss them tripping and fouling your winger as he bears down on the penalty box.
Or maybe he isn’t since this is what the crowds in PES 2016 looks like. What one does the ref have his eye on eh? My bet is on center right.
Visually, PES 2016 looks nothing like the Steam Store would have you believe. The images are grabbed from the PS4 version of the game, which PES 2016 most certainly isn’t. On the pitch, players don’t look that bad but then again graphically the PS3 and Xbox 360 weren’t bad either. In fact, back during my 360 days when PES still sucked balls, I remember seeing people walk around the outside of ad boards and managers were displayed in the same models as players. Not on PC though. Apparently our machines just aren’t capable of running those sort of visuals. The stadiums at least felt more alive than they do now a few years ago. They have taken a step backwards.
Lighting is poor when compared to current-gen lighting and the crowds suffer from extremely poor, low resolution textures. Everything is of a lower resolution than on PS4 and Xbox One. Admittedly, graphics do not make a game but as a PC Gamer, I expect at the very least, the same quality that 12 year-old, Sony fanboy Jimmy gets who believes that 13-year old Mickey on Xbox One is a prick just because he owns an Xbox One. Console fanboyism at its very best.
There were rumours that the much plugged feature, Dynamic Weather, wasn’t in the PC version however I can confirm that it is, for what difference it actually makes. Half the time I didn’t even notice until I saw it on replays and the gameplay I felt never changed, at least not enough to be evidently so. In principal, I like the idea but in execution, it is all rather pointless. Whether or not Dynamic Weather is more prominent or effective on consoles I don’t know.
Master League is good and is my favourite mode in PES and in this year’s game. It is still better than FIFA’s career mode and leads to more attachment to your team, especially with the new mechanics introduces this year. The UEFA Champions League and Europa League licenses really make reaching Europe in Master League an achievement and extremely satisfying in itself which helps add to the appeal of Master League and helping take a team to the top. The new Team Spirit feature, which has always been there to some degree but is now no longer under the hood, makes you feel like a manager managing a squad of players.
The fact that on the pitch each player has an identity in the way they play, it helps make Master League that much more fun as squad management and transfers are improved as knock-on effect. Signing players based on their name is all well and good, but in PES 2016 that may not be the best piece of transfer business for your squad. Instead, I found myself looking to sign players who matched the way I wanted to play and who would slot into my philosophy seamlessly and improve my squad. If he happened to be one of the best players in the world, then so be it. But PES 2016 gives you the impression that a team full of average players but who are tight as a unit and play as a team stand a really good chance against a team full of starts but who play disjointedly and as individuals.
As for Konami’s attempt to rival FIFA’s Ultimate Team, myClub falls flat. It isn’t a bad game mode, I actually quite like it and the idea behind it. Unfortunately once again, it is the execution which fails to deliver. I hate comparing PES to FIFA, but once again, in FUT, everything is seemless, whether that be loading into the mode, browsing the menus, changing your squad, buying packs or jumping into a match. In PES, everything is laggy and delayed. It can take anywhere between a good 20 seconds to 30 seconds for the game to Establish Communications to a level that it loads up myClub for you. If that isn’t long enough, then going into any area of myClub presents the same Establishing Communications annoyance. Entering my Game Plan can take 5 seconds to load up. Then when I want to exit, it is another 5 seconds. It’s like having loading screens between each and every area. It’s like it is built on architecture a decade old. I mean, why does it need to establish communications between every bloody function I perform? No matter what you want to do, there is a several second delay between you initiating it and the game presenting it. This is 2015 for christ sake It is annoying, but no where near as annoying as when taking myClub online to play against other players.
If when playing single-player the game play is fluid, dynamic and smooth, online it is anything but. Switching from one player to another when defending is extremely delayed to a point that it negatively impacts your ability to defend effectively. By the time it does switch, you need to switch again. Cue frustration. When I want my player to perform a clearance on the edge of my box, he takes an extra touch before doing so which often leads to him being tackled. This also happens when just passing, when the chance is on to make that killer through pass to Neymar, my player only takes another two touches before passing it straight to the defenders feet who is now in position.
For online play, gameplay needs to be responsive and fluid. In PES 2016, it is anything but. It is a mess. It’s almost as bad as trying to play an online game back in PES 2008.
PES 2016 is a terrible PC port, not so much because it is unstable because it actually is very stable, but because Konami have openly mugged off its small and now probably dwindling PC player base with lackluster graphics, terrible online play and its poor myClub implementation. But perhaps that is what they want, keep the playerbase small as that way it costs them less money to churn out a PC version of PES each year. Who knows but with Konami, nothing surprises me anymore.
Having said all that though, gameplay in PES 2016 is solid and very enjoyable and may beat FIFA this year. Whether or not the gameplay is identical to the console version, it is hard to tell but if there are differences, it wouldn’t be massive. Even so, PES 2016 on PC should be exactly the same as the PS4 and Xbox One version. It just isn’t.
Whether or not you buy PES 2016 depends on if you can look past its visual infidelities and intend on playing Master League or Become A Legend, avoiding the poor myClub mode. If you enjoy football games, are looking for an alternative to FIFA or are a fan of PES, this year’s version is still worth a buy and will give you hours of fun, just look to buy it from somewhere other than Steam as it doesn’t warrant a price tag of £40, the same as that of the console version.
On console or PC, PES 2016 is the best PES game for more than a decade and is my favourite PES game to date. It’s just a shame that Konami thought that they could neglect the game on PC and instead focus on console.
Due to Konami’s laziness and false advertising, PES 2016 on PC warrants a score much below that of the console version.