COMMENTARY | I am hardly an avid gamer. I've never waited in line for hours in order to get my hands on the latest top title, and the last Grand Theft Auto I owned was San Andreas. I do enjoy playing a ton of FIFA on a yearly basis, though, and I have already pre-ordered the upcoming edition of that series, FIFA 14.
Note: I only played PES 2014 on Xbox 360.
A buddy of mine talked me into giving the Pro Evolution Soccer 2014, PES 2014, demo a try. I've dabbled in previous versions of the game, and I've never really been all that impressed. Besides, FIFA held all of the league licenses that I really cared about. Why bother owning two football simulations?
PES 2014 could, when all is said and done, change my mind. The game is hardly flawless, something I'll get into later on. I have very much so enjoyed the handful of matches I've played in the PES 2014 demo, so much so that I will, at some point, be giving the full version of the game a try.
PES 2014 demo: Overview
The PES 2014 demo is as stripped down a version of the game as you're going to get. You can play a six-minute match, or enter a training mode. That's it. No previews or sneak peeks of any game modes are included. I was a little bummed out about this, as I was hoping to at least hear the Champions League theme when messing around with the PES 2014 demo.
Oh well. That's what YouTube is for, I suppose.
I do like that you can tinker with AI difficulty per game-played. This gives those who are essentially newbies to the franchise, such as myself, a chance to feel PES 2014 out before turning to the highest difficulty setting.
PES 2014 demo: The good
PES 2014 is, to put it bluntly, the best looking football game I've ever played. It's beautiful. The amount of detail that went into getting the little things, such as the faces of big-name players and scenes found inside the stadiums, is remarkable. You don't get quite the TV-style presentation found in either FIFA 13 or the FIFA 14 demo, but PES 2014 more than makes up for it in a variety of aspects.
Heading animations, in particular, have stuck out to me. The aerial battles I've witnessed in my brief time of playing PES 2014 beat anything I've ever before seen in any FIFA game. Positioning and timing seem to mean more in these instances than just the leaping ratings of the two players involved.
The PES 2014 demo plays much faster and far less clunky than does the FIFA 2014 demo. I've experienced a handful of scoreless draws, but none of them were boring or without multiple scoring chances. There have been times when I felt as if I had completed an entire match in under five minutes.
Like counterattacking football and combination play? PES 2014 might be for you. The combination play, especially, is wonderful to behold, and the link-up play I've experienced with attacking players in every club has made for an arcade-esque experience. Those looking for more realistic play may not love this. Whether you will depends on the sports video games you enjoy.
I commented in my piece on the FIFA 14 demo that the awful first touch found in FIFA 13 had been fixed. That isn't at all a worry in PES 2014. From the little I read about PES 2014 before downloading the demo, I understood that getting ball physics as spot-on as possible was a big objective for Konami. It nailed it.
PES 2014 demo: The bad
Team defending in the PES 2014 demo is, to put it nicely, shambolic. There isn't a back line, club or national team, that can't be beaten with a halfway decent through or over the top ball. To compensate for this, center backs get unrealistic and out of nowhere bursts of speed to beat even the quickest of attacking players to the ball. I remembering this happening in a much older edition of FIFA. It drove me nuts then, and it drives me nuts when I see it in PES 2014.
The cut animations and "Game Loading" pages are straight out of 2003. Some may see this as a minor complaint, but it's those moments that slow down and drag out matches. It's 2013. A sports game should be able to go from the main match screen to a closeup of a ref showing a yellow card without there being a noticeable delay.
It is way, way too easy to muscle opposing players off of the ball and to hold defenders off. I found this to be true regardless of the game's difficulty setting. It's possible that both will be adjusted by the time the actual game is released. If not, beating the computer while playing with any top-tier team will be a breeze.
PES 2014 demo: The awful
The PES 2014 in-game commentary is awful. This isn't so much an issue involving Jon Champion and Jim Beglin as it is about how their comments have been cut and pasted. Example: "Robin van Persie [in one tone of voice]...was being held onto [in casual and scripted tone]." My first thought upon hearing it was that it reminded me of NFL2k5.
That game was released in 2004.
I understand that commentary for sports titles is difficult because the announcers aren't actually watching the matches. FIFA has, in the past several years, gotten it as right as can be. PES has a long ways to go.
PES 2014 demo: Overall
Nothing about the PES 2014 demo will cause the so-called FIFA fanboys to abandon their game and jump ship. Casual gamers who maybe haven't bought either title in a few years should give PES 2014 a shot before automatically assuming that FIFA 14 is the way to go. I wish I would have done so before putting money down on FIFA.
PES is catching up, and I can't wait to play the full version of PES 2014 once it is released.
Zac has been covering the USMNT, Holland, Tottenham Hotspur, New York Red Bulls, Major League Soccer and other soccer leagues for Yahoo! Sports since 2010.
- Sports & Recreation