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Pro Evolution Soccer 2016

Platform(s): PC, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, Xbox One
Genre: Sports
Publisher: Konami
Release Date: Sept. 15, 2015 (US), Sept. 17, 2015 (EU)


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PS4/XOne/PC Preview - 'Pro Evolution Soccer 2016'

by Redmond Carolipio on June 29, 2015 @ 1:00 a.m. PDT

The series aims to go back to its roots to create an exciting match between users. PES 2016 will deliver quality gameplay following "The Pitch is Ours" mantra.

Not too long ago, Konami ruled the landscape of video game soccer. The Winning Eleven series amazed both casual and hardcore fans by achieving the sports game holy grail of providing an arcade-style experience without compromising the integrity of the "beautiful game" that so many fans hold dearly. As the series morphed into Pro Evolution Soccer, it had a firm grip on an established fan base.

Then, EA and its FIFA series took a major leap in quality, and it has now (in the eyes of many) seized the kingdom that used to belong to Konami and PES. The developers admitted as much during a preview of PES 2016 at E3 2015, pointing to loss of momentum and even respect for the name in recent years. Some of that changed with the previous incarnation, PES 2015, which racked up awards and recognition. Now, with Konami celebrating its 20th year bringing its brand of soccer to the masses, it's hoping PES 2016 can help the series rediscover its footing.

Tight gameplay has always been a hallmark of the Konami soccer series, and PES 2016 has turned its focus on responsive controls without any kind of overhaul to the scheme. Like FIFA, there's a renewed emphasis on the kind of human chess that takes place when players on the pitch square off one-on-one. While FIFA offered a variety of new dribble and defensive moves, PES 2016 boasts a new collision system to reflect physicality, especially when players meet in midair for headers.

I'm an admitted novice when it comes to soccer games, but I found myself executing some fine defensive work at first by accident, and then with plenty of intention during a second playthrough. Offensively, I was able to catch on (or call it muscle memory) within a half of football, if not less. I wasn't blazing shots past anyone, but I progressively improved. Like its EA rival, PES 2016 is also turning up player awareness on both sides of the ball, with players doing a better job of seeing the right angles to either set up an attack or stifle it. Speaking of angles, PES 2016 has tweaked the camera presentation to better fit a "broadcast" style, which makes the action easier to follow.

The most striking (no pun intended) aspect of PES 2016 for me was its visual fidelity, powered by the FOX engine. It's captivating, and that's by design. The number of animations for players will be tripled for this edition, numbering in the thousands. Many of these animations are nuanced within the flow of the game, while others are found in the game's new stable of 122 celebration animations. One of those celebrations includes a player taking a selfie after a goal. I saw this firsthand. I wasn't the one who scored.

Despite that, I found myself completely engaged during my playthroughs and actually found myself at times adapting a little faster than I did with FIFA. Both games offer a different taste of the global game, and it should make for an intriguing choice when PES 2016 is released on Sept. 15.

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