A fter refining its craft on the PlayStation 2, the PES series has been in the wilderness the past few years – including a transition to the new systems that more or less happened a year early and hampered the last game on the PS3. Done with dithering, last year the series found a way forward, stabilizing and refining its control scheme and feature set, making PES 2016 the first entry in a while that can propel the series upward.
The game boasts many new animations that are noticeable all over the pitch. PES 2016 is a more physical title thanks to its new collision system, but at the same time, it doesn’t feel like outcomes are predetermined or that you can’t retain possession. Developer PES Productions has prided itself on its feints system of dekes (which are still there), but being smart enough to anticipate trouble and deftly dribble aside has a place amidst physical challenges. Expect to see new animations appear in contesting headers as well, where players truly jostle for position instead of statically waiting for the ball to descend.
Soccer is a team game, so thankfully your teammates on the pitch do their part with some smartly timed runs and a new automatic give-andgo system. The PES series has been knocked for the complexity of its controls, and while some of that still remains, it’s nice that the A.I. is smart enough to recognize when it’s advantageous to pass the ball and move into space for the return.
This gameplay backbone is augmented by the further development of the Master League and myClub modes. Both are receiving a visual overhaul to take them from serviceable menus to downright appealing (including the return of cutscenes for the Master League). The Master League career mode also has a new transfer system, among other additions. MyClub – the build-a-team online mode – gets stronger in its second year with a player leveling system based on your performance on the pitch as well as the sacrificing of surplus players to improve the rest of the squad.
Even with its newfound confidence, plenty of questions still surround the franchise. Can myClub be a standout mode? Will the Master League give players the full flavor of being a manager? Have keepers improved? Can the gameplay controls be fluid, responsive, and realistic? These questions are significant, but PES Productions finally looks to be taking its challenges head on