Hands-On: PES 17 Demo
You probably know, or should know at least, that this time of the year is by far my favourite. All these sport games weeks from release, it’s the best of times for sure. First out the blocks this year (if we ignore Madden) is going to be PES 2017 and with the impending release comes a demo of the game. With so much praise being thrown out at the game from those that played it at E3, Gamescom and various community days I was very excited to get my hands on the demo.
I thought that I would share my impressions on the game, but as it is a demo, and the game is releasing soon I don’t want this to be a full on review, but rather just some basic impressions of the game and what I have seen. Important to note a few things. The demo consists of limited teams and stadiums. I mostly played as either France, Germany, Barcelona, Atletico Madrid and Arsenal, but I did give the South American teams a go too. There are only two stadiums included, there is no commentary at all in the demo and lastly it still has some outdated teams (that will be updated in a day one patch once the full game releases). With that in mind, let me share my thoughts.
Probably best to start off with me saying I loved PES 2016 and it’s the first game in the PES series that I have ended up playing a lot more than FIFA since around PES 6 or so. In terms of gameplay I knew some areas in PES 2017 would need to improve, and I was curious to see if the demo dealt with those aspects, and of course what else it brings to the table.
First off, the game is visually excellent in most departments and I love the production value that comes along with it. Player likenesses are on a different level in terms of facial animations and movement of different players. The stadiums look incredible, but I could say that the actual field/grass looks a little pixelated, hopefully it improves. Everything else looks excellent and I can’t wait to see the final game.
While there is no commentary in the demo the other sounds are fantastic including the crowd chants before and during the game, it adds to an already wonderful atmosphere and hopefully when the commentary is added it lives up to the rest of the sound quality.
The demo does offer up various tactical options and, while I did play around with them and all seem very accurate, I’d rather save that opinion for the final game review because it will be better when you can assess a team’s tactics over lots of matches in a row, rather than disjointed exhibition matches. For the purposes here, the tactics and tinkering that can be done seem like they are going to play a huge part in this year’s game, which is always good news.
Gameplay is what really matters when it comes to sport simulation and I am very glad to say that it appears as though PES 2017 has improved on almost every single aspect that PES 2016 had. More animations and even more fluid than before makes the game flows at a near perfect pace. The game definitely feels a lot faster than PES 2016, but I am cognisant of the fact that most of the teams in the demo are “quick” teams generally. Still, it feels as though the fluidity is spot on.
Passing, crossing and shooting feel perfectly weighted and definitely more akin to the real thing than I have felt in a game before. It’s amazing how subtle movements and positioning makes a difference to the way your player kicks the ball and keeping that in mind will be important. Heading at times feels a little unnatural, but for the most part feels quite well balanced and the timing feels more accurate than I have seen in previous games.
Tackling was a bit of an issue in PES 2016. It was much too easy to slide tackle and you could just spam the pressure button until your player took the ball. It doesn’t work quite the same in the demo with slide tackles needing much better timing or you will give away a foul, and spamming pressure to tackle doesn’t work nearly as well as before. Great to see.
There have been massive (and I mean MASSIVE) improvements in two sections of the game, that is evident from the demo. The first is that goalkeepers are a million times better, finally. Some of the saves I have seen pulled off have been as jaw dropping as a finely timed volley or chip goal. Keepers occasionally parry the ball poorly but in general are the best they’ve ever been, and those save animations are insane.
The other improvement is the ref. In PES 2016 there were too many instances of fouls and yellow cards when there shouldn’t be, and no fouls or yellow cards when there should be. This seems much better in PES 2017 with a seemingly better ‘understanding’ of the game from the refs. Hopefully it carries through to the full game.
Lastly, the AI opponents were definitely a lot tougher than last year. I found PES 2016 to be relatively easy even on the hardest of levels. I still think “Super Star” can be a bit more difficult, but it could also be because you have such good teams in the demo that it becomes a little easier. AI response is great though and you can’t help but feel a sense of amazement at the way they focus on certain areas depending on who you play as and who you are playing against. That AI intelligence is going to be brilliant in the final game, and a definite game changer for the franchise.
One thing that still annoys me in the game is when you slide and shoot or cross, it’s very unnatural but it appears as though that will remain a PES “thing” until the end of time. Hopefully not though, but at least it’s relatively infrequent and doesn’t affect the overall game too much in any case.
Those are my “not so brief” thoughts on the PES 2017 demo. In all, it’s looking like a brilliant game that we will be getting. With the extra licensing, new teams, MyClub, Master League and of course option files I think this may just be the best PES ever. Feel free to ask any questions, or share your thoughts on the demo if you have played it.