PES 2018 - Pure football essence

Pro Evolution Soccer has never had to rely on the licenses. Or the flashy menus, the soundtrack or the commentary. No, PES is all about the gameplay, that awesome simulation of the world's most important sideshow. After a lesser period, Konami has managed to put its finger in the right place again in recent years. With PES 2018, that finger is not moved, but pushed a little more intensely on that one spot.

Pro Evolution Soccer 2018








PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, Xbox One, PC

Website: 8.5 Score 85

  • Pros
  • Gameplay
  • Perfect control
  • Playing Styles
  • Negatives
  • Referee and goalkeeper
  • Licenses
  • Commentary

The changes in PES 2018 are not earth-shattering. The untrained eye might even think that this is 'the same game as last year'. However, there are nuances to be seen in the game. Particularly striking is how players use their bodies. They take the ball in several ways, but also shield the ball more. Automatically, yes, so that we sometimes miss some control when pushing the shoulders, but it doesn't take long before we master this apparently small ingredient and process it in the game.

Renewed and yet familiar

Due to the correct pace of the game and the clear animations, it is possible to estimate whether your player will win the wrestling match. A big, strong striker of Lukaku's caliber stands his ground against a defender, while a quick winger like Messi is not so much about the physical. Where we normally take into account who is free and look analytically at what further play options are, in PES 2018 we also take this physical part into account as if it was always part of the game.

That the opponent also anticipates this and your star player is better covered after three successful actions, is nothing new, but it is such an illustrative fact for how good and realistic the gameplay of PES is. As well as that, thanks to the horribly precise controls, you can just as easily play fast tiki-taka football with many striking passes, as opportunistic football with many long balls and through-passes on the tie of your striker. PES has been winning our football hearts for years in a row with this, but it is still worth mentioning every year.

Known Negatives

Especially because PES 2018 is still not able to break pots in other areas. The modes are not very refreshing and the content of the Master League, for example, has been unchanged for years. Nice for the fans is that Random Selection Match returns. It is now possible to kick a ball online in teams of three players, but with that we have summed up everything new under the stadium lights.

Licensing is still a thorny issue. Although it is only cosmetic that we play with MD White or Man Red instead of Real Madrid or Manchester United, the Master League does lose some possibilities due to the complete lack of the German league. And if ED Blue Burgundy, Puntihuerva or Zagrepaqu calls if they can hire a player from us, we really have to google to see which continent the club comes from in the first place.

Just like every year, the commentary is quite compelling and swings from sleep-inducing to needlessly energetic. The two commentators sometimes freely talk at each other, or completely miss the point with their timing. The menu structure doesn't look very modern either. Known negatives, but they continue to irritate.

Blundering goalkeepers and referees

In addition, strikingly enough, some other known problems have not been resolved. Remarkable, because these do have a direct impact on the gameplay, still the holy crown jewel of PES. We occasionally see goalkeepers decide matches with worldly saves that literally make us bounce off the couch, but just as easily decide a game in a negative sense with a grandiose miss. A ball that they bounce right into the opponent's feet, or a long shot that they anticipate far too late. Football is not always beautiful and in the field someone sometimes mows next to the ball, but where it usually looks realistic with the field players and is part of the game, keepers sometimes look for the border of frustration.

Even referees are still not perfect in their judgment, although they can hardly be called frustrating. The arbitrator is more lenient than too strict. Strike with a straight leg on the Achilles heel? Here, a yellow card. Broken player floors? A reminder is often enough. Matters that in real life should simply be red immediately, the ref in PES takes off with the mantle of love. However, whether or not you get a yellow card is another complete surprise.

So as Konami is getting closer to the pure essence of football, there's still a lot of work ahead of them that can be improved upon. So PES is by no means perfect. Konami also seems to make little effort to appeal to a new or broader audience. It would not be a superfluous luxury if the publisher also took a look at the rest, but in all honesty, until then, we are once again enjoying what is happening on the turf this year to the fullest. While Dutch football continues to slide, we make our dreams come true in PES by intervening in time, not playing back on the keeper and daring to act crazy, surprise the opponent and score. The pure essence of football is sometimes just enough.

PES 2018 is now available on PC, Xbox One, PS4, Xbox 360, and PS3. For this review, the game was played on a PS4 Pro.

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