Pro Evolution Soccer 2016 - The best soccer simulation out there

Last year, Konami surprised friend and foe with Pro Evolution Soccer 2015 delivering a wonderful soccer game. In any case, PES 2016 proves that the publisher can continue developing such games for a long time to come. But is Pro Evo the best football simulator to play this year?

Konami has continued to build on and on the Fox engine that is also the driving force behind its predecessor. The company has been struggling with appearances lately due to rumors that they will stop making AAA games. This time, the engine is equipped with a large number of new animations. There are some 'signature celebrations', but the lion's share consists of animations that are intended for each player. Thanks to these animations, the game feels smoother than ever before. Footballers are making better use of their bodies in PES 2016, benefiting every aspect of football. On offense, this translates to a more organic build-up of attacks and goals, while defenders can more easily throw their bodies into the fray to unbalance the opponent or skilfully take the ball away. With this, PES 2016 invites you to always keep the ball moving, which results in wonderful matches.

In these matches often enough two or more players will come into contact with each other. The Fox engine is smart about this and apparently has a different animation for each collision. For example, the technical midfielder of the opposing team gracefully jumps over your hard tackle, while the bony attacker falls to the ground minutes later after the same tackle. He is simply not agile enough to dodge the tackle. The great thing here is that everything seems real. Collisions and physical contact have the same consequences that you see in real football matches. That greatly enhances your playing experience, as it brings with it the kind of realism that allows you to lose yourself even more in your pot of virtual football. The ball also reacts lifelike in these collisions, which is an absolute relief. Sometimes the ball only jumps unluckily off a part of the body, other times it caroms between the bodies of the players and lands at your feet with a bit of luck. It all depends on how hard you charge, at what angle and with which player you play.

Room for improvement

When that ball lands in front of your feet, you can make your way to the goal in PES 2016 in a wonderful way. Your attacker can perform even more tricks with the renewed skill moves to make the defense go crazy. However, we do come across a drawback here. Whether you're going up against the computer or another player, defenders will pull out all the stops to stop your advance into the box. According to the very lenient referee, this also includes the hardest violations, which you can generally make without consequences. It's a shame, because it allows for a more aggressive play style that sometimes makes matches unfair and messy.

However, that is not the only flaw we can detect on the field. If you've managed to make your way to the opponent's goal without hard tackles, you still have to pass the keeper. That does not appear to be an overly challenging task, on the contrary. The keeper's AI can be improved and the closing post is therefore relatively easy to outwit. That doesn't mean that every match is worth shooting, but more than once you ask yourself whether your keeper shouldn't have been able to (hold) hold a shot easily.

PES 2016 also has the usual objections that PES players have taken for granted. While more licenses than ever are available for Konami this year, we are still missing some key leagues and players. In addition, this year too the menus do not deserve beauty awards and are sometimes very confusingly designed. All of these things keep PES 2016 from reaching its full potential, but certainly don't detract from the feeling that every game of PES 2016 brings to the table.

The football feeling

It is exactly that word that describes the power of PES 2016: feeling. When you play PES 2016, almost the entire match feels like real football. This is partly due to the apparent presence of a randomness mechanism running in the background during the matches you play. You can repeat an action several times in a row, but each time it seems to be slightly different from the last time you made it. Even if you repeat the exact timing of your actions. It makes sense that you can't do the exact same thing every time: footballers are human too, and even a small blade of grass can make the difference between a shot that shatters the post and a goal that deserves the Puskas Award. Still, this randomness mechanism is subtle enough not to be frustrating. If you fire a good shot, you still have a good chance of a goal. However, it may be that the ball has a little more curve on one side than the other.

However, this is not the only bit of feeling that makes PES 2016 such a wonderful football game. To excel in PES 2016, a little feeling for real football is also indispensable. Understanding the game, knowing running lines and reading your opponent's body language is more important in PES 2016 than in any other football game ever. That's not to say that you can't have fun in PES 2016 without this insight, but it makes you a better virtual player and brings a more complete gaming experience. Due to the unpredictability of collisions and the randomness mechanism, the gameplay is not as predictable as in other football games. That means you're more dependent on your own insight than on your knowledge of the gameplay. And isn't that what makes the difference between a soccer game and a soccer simulator?

PES 2016 is available now for PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3, Xbox One, Xbox 360, and PC. This review is based on the PlayStation 4 version of the game. We haven't played the PC version ourselves yet, but we have posted an extensive news analysis about the problems in the PC version.


Pro Evolution Soccer is hands down the best soccer simulator we've ever played with an emphasis on simulation. The game knows like no other how to bring the special feeling that comes with watching football to your screen. We take small irritations such as the overly accommodating referee and the messy menus for granted, because this (perhaps last) Pro Evolution Soccer deserves a podium place in your game library.

85/100 85/100

This article was created in collaboration with

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