PES is my game of the year every year. When I play the demos before the release of the full game I sleep well, knowing that although there are a few issues here and there I see enough that tell me the complete product will be one that I love. After milking the proverbial cow that is the PES 2014 demo dry of all its content and taking note of all its nuances, I can unfortunately say that this year’s iteration of the game is the first one that has literally caused me many sleepless nights. I have always chosen PES over the game that I will not mention because that game defiles my mind with images of players that move around like they are intoxicated, clumsy and heavy on their feet. However, while I was playing the PES 2014 demo I could not block out these images.
In the demo I see the same clumsiness, heavy footed nature and movements that suggest the players spend more time in a bar than on the training pitch, just as in the other game.
At the start of the match they do well to hide the stench of alcohol on their breath and in their system by spraying slick passes all over the pitch as well as displaying some truly breath-taking animations in all the actions they carry out. However, when the match continues the players alcoholic state shines through brightly. They exhibit blurry vision, not aware of their surroundings ignoring passes played towards them or failing to capitalize on interception opportunities that come their way.
Another dead give-away that the players are not of sound mind is when you attempt to dribble without pressing the sprint button. Gone are the days where you could beat a player with some sleight of hand only using the movement analog stick. Now when you attempt to go on a run a la Lionel Messi or Andres Iniesta, those runs that resemble a nonchalant jog in the park, your players take on the role of a stuttering car.
Earlier I mentioned the slick passing, well as things on the pitch become a tad hectic due to an increase in the tempo of the match your players, due to the increase in movement taking place around them, exhibit that blurred vision once again. Passing direct passes as if they are playing a through ball, as well as making the decision (even when playing full manual) to tell you: “I know you wanted me to pass the ball to that player but I believe that it was not in your best interest for me to play it to him therefore I decided to play it to the player BEHIND him). This happened in the previous PES titles but it happens more often in this one, at least in this demo.
When I talk to a fan of the game that I will not mention and give him my reasons as to why I love PES, more often than not I will mention the fact that it replicates the tempo of the beautiful game more than that of the game they adore. When I watch big matches for example the El Classico, the Manchester Derby or the Merseyside Derby my brain always tells me “wow, PES 2013 IS football”. The way the match ebbs and flows at a frenetic pace is exactly how it appears in PES 2013. Go to Youtube and look at a compilation of Messi or Ronaldo and you’ll see that the pace of their play and movements is replicated almost to perfection by PES 2013.
In PES 2014 the animations look really good when you’re watching replays of goals or any replay for that matter. But in “real time” they slow down the game for me to an extent that the game does not represent the tempo seen in a real football match anymore. The animations are too perfect. Too well-rounded it’s as if the players are taking part in a movie wherein they are over-acting. Watch a real football match and you’ll see that the “animations” are not as smooth or perfect as the two football games we have to choose from make them out to be. In the heat of battle there is not always the time to exhibit all your technique. Watch a clip of Dortmund or Barcelona or any team in the world that attack with pace. Do they not exhibit the robotic hyper-active movements seen in PES 2013? The animations in PES 2013 were outdated BUT they did not need to be completely overhauled, they needed to be moulded like a clay pot would be when it’s a bit rough around the edges.
I do love the new engine and how by implementing it they were able to separate the ball from the player. However on many occasions the players look a tad lost seemingly overwhelmed with all the freedom given to them now that they are not attached to the ball. Now add to that the over exaggerated animations, the clumsy dribbling mechanics, the continuous loss of possession due to misplaced passes as well as the lack of player-awareness and you’ll see why the PES 2014 demo has been giving me sleepless nights.
Every new PES title that comes out comes with a learning curve. This year’s learning curve is probably the steepest. I am hoping that, like the previous ones, that when I climb over this learning curve I will see a view that resembles the beautiful game that I love so much. I really wish I could be like some of my fellow PES players who have fallen in love with it immediately. For now I will continue to stock up on sleeping pills to fight the insomnia the demo has caused me and pray that the full game wins my heart over.