Pro Evolution Soccer 2015 Review: Football’s Coming Home


Konami’s Pro Evolution Soccer makes its first appearance on the current generation of consoles, and its the best PES since the PS2 era.

Developer: PES Productions

Publisher: Konami

Platforms: PS3, PS4 (reviewed version), Xbox 360, Xbox One, Windows

Release Date: Nov. 11, 2014

“The pitch is ours,” the tagline for Konami’s Pro Evolution Soccer 2015, seemed like wishful thinking considering the state of the franchise in recent years. That is, until I put the game into my PS4 and starting playing. Then I thought, “You know, they might just be right about that.”

The pitch was clearly theirs back in the PS2 era. PES games ruled the market with controls, artificial intelligence, and tactics that rival FIFA games simply couldn’t compete with. That changed with the arrival of the PS3/Xbox 360 era. PES didn’t make the transition well, and FIFA took control.

The arrival of the PS4/Xbox One era provides PES a chance to reclaim their throne. While Konami’s franchise likely won’t win the sales battle this year, there is certainly going to debate on if PES has moved ahead in terms of quality.

PES’s quality shows up most where it truly matters: on the pitch.

The controls are excellent, responsive and intuitive. Well, at least at first. There’s also a dizzying array of special moves and different movement options. There is a huge learning curve required before playing at the higher difficulty levels.

While anyone can pick up and play on the lower difficulty levels, the highest levels are reserved for the very skilled. Luckily, there are plenty of levels in the middle so every gamer can find their sweet spot where the game is both challenging and fun.

Where FIFA focusses on big budget production values and generating highlight reel footage, PES focuses on having accurate fundamentals like team defensive shape and have players make realistic runs off the ball. FIFA is Wayne Rooney. PES is Lionel Messi.

In fact, the true beauty of the game’s AI can be seen when the controls are set up so you control just one player. Run your player out of position, and their teammates shift an adjust to help avoid gaping holes in the defense.

That example is just the tip of the iceberg. Each player has their own natural way they play the game. Go in shoulder to shoulder, and you’ll see some players routinely fight through the challenge, while other always turn away and look to pass.

The same is true for goalkeepers. Some a quick to come off their line, while others stay back and never leave the confines of their net. There are even some that regularly patrol out near the top of the penalty box when their team is on the attack.

Pick teams with a star players and PES begins to truly shine. Each of the games best players feel different when controlling them, complete with their strengths and weakness. Cristiano Ronaldo’s ability to weave through a crowd is particularly fun to control.

PES is truly working to represent soccer has it exists in the real world, and they’ve done a damn good job of it.

It also makes the missing licenses that much more frustrating. While the game features a vast array of leagues from all around the world, it has generic names for some of Europe’s most well known teams. Chelsea is simply London FC. Liverpool is known as Merseyside Red. It does start to take away from the experience of competing in the English leagues when the teams have the wrong names.

One area where PES needs to up their game is in their play modes. As great as the game is on the the pitch, its single-player experience fall into the “good but not great” category.

Become a Legend (BaL) mode put you in control of a single player and gives you the power to guide that player through their entire career. You can choose to either take control of an existing player, or to create a new player.

This type of mode is nothing new by any means, but it is well done here. Skill development is slow enough to keep things realistic, but fast enough to avoid getting frustrated.

It should be noted that the player creator tool is extremely powerful. It felt more like something you’d find in an RPG than a typical sports game. You can even tint your character’s hair to perfectly match the color of their boots.

Ultimately the mode lacks personality, or perhaps it is more accurate to say that your created player lack personality. There’s no swag to buy, media to manipulate, or reasons to be mad at your teammates. There will come a time fairly early in a player’s career when matches become “just another game.”

PES is truly working to represent soccer has it exists in the real world, and they’ve done a damn good job of it.

MyClub mode makes its debut this year, but it is nothing more than a micro-transaction driven Ultimate Team clone. These modes are fun in small doses, but always feel forced in a way that tell you they are just about sucking additional cash out of gamers.

Master League is the mode where you’ll likely spend most of your single-player time. Here you pick a team and take control over everything you can think of. The mode is a bit outdated, but is still fun.

In multiplayer, PES truly shines. Take everything that is excellent about on the pitch, and add in the innovative role control system. With role control turned on, Instead of just switching to the nearest player, each person takes control of all the midfielders or all the defenders.

Role control makes co-op play tremendously fun. It is so simplistically brilliant that it left me wondering why it hadn’t been implemented years ago.

Overall, Pro Evolution Soccer’s first foray in the current generation of footy gaming was a major success. Konami got it right where it matters most, which makes it easy to look passed the game’s minor flaws.


+ Looks stunning

+ Intuitive and deep control system

+ Well build AI

+ Mimics real soccer

+ Role control

– Missing licenses

– Game modes need improvement still

– Menus look like they’re from PS2 era

(A copy of this game was provided to GameSided for the purpose of this review. Click here to learn more about our Review Policy.)