Also On: Xbox One, Xbox 360, PS3, PC
Developer: PES Productions
We are knee deep in sports releases right now. Last month saw the release and my review of one of my favorite franchises; Madden (review here), which was really just the appetizer to what we’ve gotten in September. This month I also reviewed the release of NHL 17 (review here) and we had the release of NBA 2K17 (review here), FIFA 17 (review coming soon) and Pro Evolution Soccer 2017 (PES 2017). Not to mention for dessert we also have WWE 2K17 dropping early next month. Now that we know the sports menu of these past few months, let’s move on to PES 2017.
This is the second year I’m covering the Pro Evolution Soccer series. I look at it like it’s my sophomore year with the title and it’s fair to say while it’s a new year, it’s also a lot of the same that we had last year. Marginal updates and upgrades is exactly what you get with PES 2017. I don’t think anyone can argue this point with me and this is a really cut and dry annual update with nothing entirely new. I’m torn with how I feel about a strictly marginally updated sports release. I somewhat touched on this in my NHL 17 review, having not played the NHL franchise frequently as of late, it was a new experience to me, so I graded the title in that regard. Being that this is my second year reviewing PES, I have more of a familiarity with the franchise and had different expectations going into it this year.
I totally understand the “if it’s not broke, don’t fix it” mentality, but it’s hard to justify a $60 purchase on a game that is almost exactly the same game it was last year. No new modes were added to PES 2017, so if 2016 wasn’t your soccer game of choice, I doubt this year’s release will change your mind on the franchise. Gameplay tweaks are Konami’s selling point this year and that also isn’t a bad thing. Especially if PES is your soccer franchise of choice and you already love what the franchise brings to the table.This is why I said earlier that I was torn. You see, if we were talking about the Madden franchise (which I purchase every year) and you said it was just a marginal update with gameplay tweaks, new rosters and maybe some minor changes, I would be fine with it. Madden is a title, for better or worse, that I will always buy, and I know there are soccer fans out there that feel the same way about video game titles for their sport.
Returning from last year are all of the same modes. My favorite mode, myClub, is a reason to play PES if you haven’t before (I go somewhat in depth about myClub in my review for PES 2016). Long story short, myClub mode is a fantasy mode mixed with franchise mode. Make your custom team, control every aspect of the team (manager, play style, trainers, players, etc.), play games and compete in leagues. myClub is extremely deep and where I primarily spend my time. If you purchased PES 2016, myClub looks identical from what I remember. So this might be a tough sell if you were looking for something new in myClub, but if you haven’t played the mode before, it’s worth the price of admission. I know FIFA is introducing a new Story mode into the franchise this year, so that could give myClub a run for it’s money but I have yet to check that out.
Where I would have liked to see some improvements is how they teach you how to play the game and maneuver the controls. I also think the menu system could use an overhaul as it doesn’t have the ease of use and navigation that the EA Sports titles do. When you first boot up myClub mode, you're treated to a tutorial of how the mode works and guides you to some of your first essential moves you must make to get started. I wish they had just given the same treatment to starting your first exhibition match up, or even added button overlays like EA did with FIFA last season. The gameplay can’t be beat (and I don’t expect this year’s FIFA to beat it either) and if it got users into the game a bit better, I don’t think the learning curve would be as steep.
Like last year, the commentary is lackluster in my opinion. Sports titles have had a difficult time getting good commentary forever. The 2K titles seem to have the best commentary which isn’t overly repetitive and feels like the guys are actually calling the action. PES has a long way to go with its commentary and I think it would probably be best to just do a complete reboot like Madden did this past season. Go with a new broadcast team and record all new dialogue, maybe even take a play out of Madden’s book and have the broadcast team sit down and record new lines every few weeks, which can then be downloaded via game update.
PES 2017 is undeniably a fantastic soccer simulation, but is it any better than 2016’s title? The gameplay additions are marginal at best and if you bought last year’s game, it’s hard for me to recommend picking up 2017. On the other hand if you haven’t been playing soccer titles in the past few years and are looking to get back into the sport, you won’t find a better simulation of the sport. FIFA offers flashier graphics and a more user friendly approach though. EA isn’t going to stand by with being the second best at any sport (besides basketball) so I expect more improvements each year with FIFA. Having said that, I’m going to give PES 2017 the benefit of the doubt for this year, and say that next year new modes and other non gameplay improvements will be required. PES 2017 gets one past the keeper this year, but needs some new blood for next year.