Pro Evolution Soccer 2015 – PS4 Review

PES2015_Full_Logo_CMYK_jpg_jpgcopy 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.

PES2015_FFF_02This 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.

PES2015_myClub_GotzeThe 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.

PES2015_myClub_ScudMenuThe 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.

PES2015_LIGUE1_PSG_vs_ASSEThe 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.

Football Manager 2015 Review

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Football Manager 2015

Developed by Sports interactive

Published by Sega

Reviewed on the PC

The football manager series developed by Sports Interactive has to be one of the greatest set of games I have ever played. If I added up all of the hours I have spent playing the various games over the past twenty years, I would probably question quite what I have done with my life, but I wouldn’t change the amount of time I have spent playing on this hugely addictive and immersive game. After all, where else could I have taken my Lincoln City side from the depths of English football to multiple Champions League titles?

When loading up the game for the first time I was met with the options of playing the ‘full’ version of football manager or the ‘classic’ version. The Classic version is essentially an option for players who do not have as much time to invest in the game, yet still want to play through many seasons, it is effectively a watered down version of the game, with emphasis more on the match day management of your team. As I have already stated I spend far too much time playing this game so this review, is primarily based on the full version of the game.

There is a third option where you can play through some shortened challenges, I tried out one of these, the aim of keeping AFC Wimbledon up with half the season already gone and being well adrift at the bottom of the table. Sadly my time in charge was brief, as I did little to help the side stay up, but I have to say that this is a great feature to freshen the game up with various scenarios available, if the bottom of the football league isn’t to your liking.

FM15_MATCH_ENGINE_01_1412781262The first big addition to the game comes when you are initially setting up your game, where as in the past you would select your details, such as name/age/favourite club, then pick your team, now you have to select what sort of manager you will be. Will you be a manager who specialises in coaching? Tactics? Or maybe a bit from both? This early decision allows you to tailor your style in a way that you just haven’t been able to in the past, the abilities you possess should be linked to the reputation you have selected, so don’t think you can really go into the Conference with a fully rounded set of skills. Like-wise, the game will help tailor you better if you opt for one of the elite clubs.

On my early play through of the game I tried to become a jack of all trades and spread my skills across all of the fields. I learnt that it is perhaps better to be a tactical coach for the larger sides, where you will have far more coaches to work with and smarter players, but a coaching manager at the smaller clubs, where tactics aren’t as important as getting the most out of your limited resources. It is great to see this added as it will allow you to grow as a manger as you work your way up through the leagues enhancing your reputation. I expect that given enough time, you will be able to ditch the tracksuit you wear early on in your career at the foot of the symbolic gaming pyramid, for a suit once you take charge at one of the top jobs.

The interface has had an overhaul and initially it had me longing for the old layout, but as with most things in life, change is generally a good thing, and after a couple of hours I felt it was far better.

All of the core areas of the game were in the side bar down the left hand side; no longer do you look to the top of the screen, meaning that I was only ever one or two clicks away from where I wanted to be. The addition of an internet style search bar at the top of every page was a brilliant change. Initially I thought that I wouldn’t use the function much, but the more time I spent playing the more I realised just how often I would start typing in it to quickly find the next player I wanted my team of scouts to report on.

This brings me to another fairly big change to the game; the scouting section of the game has now been fused with the old player search. This means that whereas in the past you could literally search for any player in the world, you are now tied in by the knowledge of your scouts. The better and more widely spread your scouts are, the more players you will be able to look at. Whilst this may be viewed as harder for smaller sides, I do think it is more realistic: After all, why would a side in the Conference have a detailed list on players in Burkina Faso? This change really means that you will have to spend more time on sending your scouts to various parts of the world if you want to learn about the next wonder kid before anyone else.

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The tactics section has also had a nice upgrade. Far more options available and whereas in the past the screen would have sliders to select how you would want your side to play on the pitch, now you have to use instructions. Again, I think this is far better, as I highly doubt Jose Mourinho shows his players a set of sliders before sending them out for a match. The media interactivity has been increased, with odd questions being asked to you in the tunnel on the way out to a match, as well as far more media interest in transfers and rumours of morale in the squad. As with previous versions, if you find any of these areas of the game a little too time consuming, or just boring you can have your assistant manager help out.

The 3D match engine has been updated and it looks far better, with many upgrades being made – ranging from far better weather effects, more detailed stadiums, down to the players kicking the ball in a far more realistic manner. I play the game with the 3D match engine, so I really liked these updates, but many players still play through with just the text commentary; this has also been updated with more variety, so it doesn’t feel like you are reading the same as last year. Of course there are still glitches and problems with the match engine, you see players do very strange things and many games do tend to be very similar when viewing them, but it is an improvement and as with all previous Football Manager games SI work hard to release updates that improve problems promptly.

FM15_SCOUT_REPORT_1412781264Overall this is another superb game from Sports Interactive. Each year they manage to keep the game feeling fresh and this is no exception. The addition of tailoring your management style is something that keeps you wondering how we got on without it before. It is another evolution of the greatest football management simulator and if you have enjoyed any of the previous games then you will love this one too.

Score: 9/10

FIFA 15 Review

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As sure as the sun rises in the East and sets in the West, September brings the latest version of Electronic Art’s mega selling football simulation game FIFA. This time it is FIFA 15, which EA have promised to be the most realistic yet, a promise made in all previous years of course. This is the second FIFA title to be released on the Playstation 4 and with a full year to get to grips with the new power afforded by the new console, I am hoping for a leap forward over last year’s edition. When you first load up FIFA 15 you are greeted with the usual EA Sports logos and the very slick menu screens which are now synonymous with the various EA sports titles.

The game engine has clearly been improved this year, graphically I was very impressed. FIFA now looks like a next gen game, last year looked good on the PS4, but it did feel like a re-skinned version of what was released on the PS3. The football pitch shows gradual wear as the game goes on, make a slide tackle in the middle of the pitch and the mark left will still be there come the end of the game, added wear and tear that you would normally see when watching a game live.

fifa15_xboxone_ps4_barclayspremierleague_astonvilla_wmThe player models have also been updated, again looking better than ever before and are increasingly getting near to photorealism. The big stars such as Messi and Ronaldo are incredible both in game and in close up replays. I do have to point out though that the arms on some players look odd, making them appear top heavy and of course players further down the football pyramid will look nothing like their real life counterparts. This year also sees a full license with the Premier League – this means that all twenty clubs have their stadiums faithfully recreated in the game. These stadiums do look brilliant and it just adds to the realism that EA are striving for, even the chants from the crowd are unique to the team they are supporting. It hopefully points to future titles having even more leagues fully licensed with stadia and fans all being unique.

A small improvement that I really like is the overhaul of the team management section of the game. Where as in the past you have been fairly limited to pre-set formations, you now have the freedom to move players all around the pitch and really tweak your tactics and pre-set moves and set-pieces. For someone like myself, who from the safety of their own sofa thinks they could teach Sir Alex Ferguson a thing or two, this is a well over due addition to the game.

fifa15_xboxone_ps4_authenticplayervisual_hazard_wmIt’s clear so far that EA have really improved the visuals and immersive nature of the game, but have they taken the game-play that step forward in the same way? Well the answer is both yes and no. Generally FIFA plays brilliantly with the game engine being noticeably different to last year; I find this game tries to encourage a more realistic approach when controlling your team especially in defence. Tactical defending is now a lot harder to master, long gone are the days of just holding down the press button until your defender just won the ball. You now have to actively time your players’ tackles, this iteration of FIFA is a lot less forgiving than last year. You have to time the tackle to perfection to nick the ball off a talented forward. This certainly means you have to be patient and not just charge in with several players, do this and a huge gap will appear that the opposition will easily exploit.

As in many of the previous versions of FIFA the main attribute that you will need is speed. I have both scored and conceded too many goals where a striker has just ran through a defence with far too much ease; this could well be down to not mastering the new style of defending or it could be down to the improvements made to the dribbling in this year’s game. It is now far easier to take on and beat a player, where as in previous games there were little ‘one to one’ moments, where a player could beat a defender or two. This time around it feels a lot easier to just give the ball to a skilful player and let him run, as I have said though this could be down to players just not mastering the new style of defending yet. With it being suicidal, mash the tackle button like in previous games as you will only succeed in clearing a path to goal.

fifa15_xboxone_ps4_dynamicmatchpresentation_manchestercity_goal_wmOn the whole the game is very smooth to play, with all of the new enhancements making for a much more enjoyable and realistic game, but there is one major problem that severely hampers the game; the artificial intelligence of the goalkeepers is terrible. So many times a close game has been completely ruined by a ‘keeper doing something so ridiculous it actually makes you laugh. One of the worst instances I have encountered is a goalkeeper actually diving into the side of the net as an opposing striker ran towards goal, they then proceeded to just walk the ball over the line. There is nothing more frustrating than a close fought game being decided by glitchy AI, causing the ‘keeper to run away from the ball, when all he had to do is pick it up. Even when the decision making isn’t awful, the shot stopping is. So many shots inside the box seem to just travel through the goalkeepers or bounce off them and go into the net. Of course this happens in real life matches, but not as many times as it happens in this game.

Whilst this is a major problem, I do fully expect it to be rectified in a patch, as these issues have been in the past. I have mainly played this game online in the season’s mode; I have had no problems with the EA servers, even on release day when it usually grinds to a halt due to overwhelming demand. One addition I would love to see is a customisable online league; you can still only do this with one other person. We at Frugal Gaming have our own online league and having it all playable through FIFA would certainly save time in updating on the forum and make it more accessible.

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FIFA 15 is a rather substantial visual improvement and certainly feels like a step up over last year’s effort on the PS4, the game play has been refined but there are problems that will need to be patched sooner rather than later, until this happens I give FIFA a 7/10.

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