The beautiful game. Any fan of our national sport can appreciate that tika taka Arsenal goal vs Norwich last year, the pace, precision and technical ability was phenomenal. I should also give special mention to the individual skills of Van Persie, and his ‘flying header’ vs Spain in this years World Cup. I mention these two stand out moments of recent history after finishing my first session of this gen’s Pro Evolution Soccer 2015.
Starting a friendly fixture as Juventus, my midfield quartet with the help of the manual pass (hold L1 to point a directional arrow) elegantly tore apart 5 opponent players before Carlos Tevez tapped in from 6 yards. Stunning, unscripted, and most importantly felt all of my own doing. In my second game Daniel Sturridge of Merseyside Red split my defence in half as a ball he had no chance of reaching lofted into the box before his salmon like ability sent him flying to connect, and ultimately send the Puma licensed ball into the top corner of my net.
This gen’s début incarnation is again powered by the Fox engine, the likenesses of your favourite players are superb, whether it be Ronaldo or Bale, or the harrowing Tevez, their movement on the pitch are also life like, in addition to their cat like turn of pace.
Along with the accurate players, licensed boots and balls add an array of dazzling colour to complement the players, and although not perfect, the animated fans give a real feeling of attendance, the only downside that can sometime snap the immersion is the commentary, both dull and repetitive, Jon Champion and Jim Beglin should have been given more than a post-it note to read from. I lost count of the times I was reprimanded for not yet having a shot 15 minutes into the game, a few extra pundits for the different game modes would have gone along way, but please, not Andy Townsend or Michael Owen.
I gave up the physical game a few years ago, however playing Pro Evo 15 made me want to pull up my Town socks, insert half a Sunday Telegraph down each leg and whip out the tin of Tiger Balm, the manual passing is crisp, as is the satisfying through ball on the outside of the boot and the either well timed hard challenge or the mistimed crunch as you clatter an opponent to the ground for the inevitable booking. This is football.
The AI movement is excellent as your team mates move around the pitch intelligently trying to create space or to create an option to pass to whilst keeping to the set formation, the gameplay is balanced, precise and accurately portrays the real game. This isn’t ping pong, there won’t be many 5-4 wins to be found here, I’ve had a number of hard fought 0-0 draws, this may not be Hollywood soccer but it again adds to the realism, and you know what?, even in defeat there’s no sign of a flying DS4 pad, or even the slightest hint of the air turning blue, you lose fairly, and you live and learn.
The licences have improved although there is still the lack of official English teams and that’s also the case for our newly included 2nd tier where you can now find Norfolk City and East Dorsetshire amongst your team choices. This can cause some annoyance and again take away some of the realism away however this can be fixed with a time and patience using the editor. The Italian, Spanish, Dutch and French teams are fully licensed however there is a noticeable absence of the German Bundesliga.
The modes on offer this year include the time-sink that is the Master League, and a wide range of cups and tournaments like the UEFA Champions League, the Asia Champions League and also the South American Copa Libertadores, Football Life and Become a Legend modes allow you to create and develop your own player, as you look to digitally take all of Lionel Messi’s goalscoring records, or even set your sights lower as the midfield playmaking dynamo that was George Boateng.
The new addition this year is MyClub, which aims to rival a certain Ultimate Team, with ‘GP’ that can be generated in matches by completing achievement’s to help build and create your own Galácticos, or, you can fork out real money to boost your ‘GP’ for that authentic Real dream.These teams can then be taken online against friend or foe. I’ve only touched the tip of the iceberg of this mode but can already see it has a lot to offer, and I’m looking forward to sinking plenty of time into it.
The online game works, matchmaking was straightforward and the gameplay mirrored the offline mode, just be sure to stipulate a set criteria unless you wish to face a world of Madrid’s. In addition to the single quick match game there is also a online league mode where you can rank up and position yourself in the world, as well as a 11 vs 11 mode using dedicated lobbies to set matches up.
The only disappointment that I can think of is when a game plays this well and has some wow moments, why is the highlights options so limited?, some of my exquisite build up play has been cut from goalscoring replays, or maybe some intense midfield battles I’d like to keep, maybe go so far as use them as training material to see where I went wrong. Having a full match editor could really showcase this games potential.
This years Pro Evolution Soccer 2015 has won on the pitch, with the off field minor issues such as the licences, lacking replay options and the commentary the only negatives marks on a thoroughly enjoyable portrayal of the beautiful game.
Rating 8 of 10.
This review is based on the PlayStation 4 version. The game is also available on the PS 3, Xbox One, Xbox 360 and PC.