By Rob Valentine
Every time I hear the Fox engine mentioned I get a little shiver. I’m a long-time fan of the MGS series so when I heard that Konami were going to be using Fox for their upcoming PES title, I was actually pretty keen to give it a spin.
I need to preface this review with a small warning though – the review copy is: A) early and B) crippled, only allowing a simple exhibition match and locking your team choices down to the absolute bare minimum. The much talked about “HEART” system didn’t make it into the preview either.
A lot of fuss has been made about the use of Kojima’s engine and immediately, I can tell you that it’s reasonably well deserved. While you’re not going to faint at the suddenly amazing graphics (they aren’t really), the in-game mechanics is where the most work has been done.
Most talked about, TrueBall and MASS have made a significant difference in the gameplay and (possibly most important) the feel of the matches.
With TrueBall, the ball and player are now completely separate entities – now, this may seem intuitive to those of us who play other games but apparently it’s a totally new thought for Konami. That said, there’s a clear difference in the way things operate – the ball no longer hugs feet and player animations have been given a little more freedom.
On to MASS then – basically, it helps to render players as actual objects that interact properly with each other rather than a clump of pixels with no discernible physical properties. This means that tackles make more sense and the game AI is a devious little sod that knows to make use of open spaces and actually give you a run for your money.
Speaking of the AI, after an embarrassing 8-0 defeat (my controller was misconfigured OK?), I can happily say that the AI gave me some pretty decent competition. Previous iterations haven’t exactly blown the audience away with insightful play and amazing tactics.
Some things remain the same though – a slide tackle that isn’t executed absolutely perfectly will get you carded faster than you can say “Aargh, my ankle!”
There’s also been a lot of talk about the increase in Player ID that Konami have managed – while PES 2013 had only 50 players mapped, the new version has close to 100 recreated which means you get to see Ronaldinho in all his… glory. Unfortunately, any player that hasn’t had the Player ID treatment looks like a slack-jawed yokel with dead eyes. Still, you can’t have it all I suppose.
The world of football sims is pretty much sewn up by either FIFA or PES fans and general feeling around the interwebs is that this may well be the year that people switch back to PES and I can see why.