At a glance...

Previewer Platform Publisher Developer Players Release Date
Matt Bailey PlayStation 3 Konami PES Productions Up to 7 (local), 8 (Online) 20th September 2013

Pro Evolution Soccer 2014 preview

Each year Konami have come out and said that the new version of Pro Evolution Soccer will make this or that change, but the differences between versions can take some time to notice, and then some more time to either appreciate them or dislike them. This year, the difference is instantly noticeable. The switch to the FOX Engine, Kojima's tech that's also powering Metal Gear Solid V, has really shaken up the series.

It looks good, but I wouldn't recommend playing at this angle

It looks good, but I wouldn't recommend playing at this angle

For a start, it looks different; there's a new sheen to the pitch and the new lighting model the engine offers makes it look more real and yet still quite distinct from its competitor. Using FOX has given the developers more freedom to focus on what matters to them, rather than worrying about shadows and weather effects. These bits they get for free, and they don't have to worry about slowdown any more either.

On the field, the movement feels heavier and more refined than last year. The ball is now separately modelled, so it no longer feels like it's tethered to the players as they make their way up the field. The ball will bounce around off their boots as they dribble, and tackles can result in the ball going in less predictable directions depending on the collision that took place. The tackles themselves benefit from an engine which is more accurately modelling the presence of a human, so people bump into each other, and the winner of a tackle isn't all about statistics.

Some impressive facial expressions there

Some impressive facial expressions there

Pro Evolution Soccer 2014 comes at an interesting time ahead of the launch of the next-gen consoles. Konami have decided to focus on the current generation (and PC) this year, deciding that rather than only having a few months to get to grip with the new machines, they instead get a year and a half to make Pro Evo work well with what the new machines have to offer, not just in terms of raw power but the controllers and social features too. They want to avoid the mistakes of the current gen where the series had a rocky start. This means that FIFA has a bit of an open goal on the PS4 and Xbox One, but on the other hand, it is basically just prettier versions of the PS3 and Xbox 360 editions respectively - there's no next-gen innovation there just yet.

The FOX Engine allows the series to be ready for the next-generation of machines, but even right now it's making Pro Evolution Soccer 2014 an important leap forward for the series.

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