If AI quality is what you are after, look no further than PES 2017
Published 24/09/2016 | 00:00
Konami has done everything within their power to dethrone EA Sports as the de facto provider of soccer simulation in recent years, with Pro Evolution Soccer 2016 being the finest example of a soccer game ever produced by the developers.
With FIFA seemingly pulling out all the stops for their latest offering - and I'm judging that on what I've seen from the demo alone - can Konami continue their battle for top spot?
PES 2017 certainly seems to think so. Bar the perrenial omission of some of the biggest names in club football (Real Madrid, Bayern Munich, Manchester United, etc), PES 2017 is nothing but an absolute pleasure to play.
It's the nearest thing you can get to actually playing football without leaving the comfort of your couch and discovering just how unfit you are. The players move with unmatched fluidity and respond to your commands without a fuss.
There's a real ebb and flow to games which means whether you're on the offense or on the back foot it feels tense and natural. With PES 2017 every pass, through-ball and shot feels deliberate and authentic. It feels like you are in control of the ball.
If AI quality is what you are after, look no further than PES 2017.
The last few FIFA iterations, while fast-paced and visceral, left a lot to be desired with regards to the AI's off-the-ball play.All too often you will look to swing one in only to find your target man faffing about outside the oppositions box and your player with the most Cazorla-esque stature sandwiched in between two six-and-a-half foot centre backs.
Cut to PES 2017 and suddenly your team-mates are making actually intelligent runs, moving into more accessible spaces and always making sure you don't feel like your passes are wasted or misfired.
Tackles and physical battles have real crunch too in PES 2017, with the enhanced ball controls making it much more enjoyable to weave through a packed midfield with the ball on your tip-toes, shifting your player's bodyweight to fend off incoming challenges as you make it to the wing sprinting for the box.
PES 2017 is an almost faultless title, that is until FIFA 17 comes out and suddenly fans realise they want full 10-hour storylines complete with blockbuster-budget cutscenes in every sports simulation game released from now until forever. For now, we can just enjoy the sheer glory of this game.
PS4 / XboxOne