PES 2016 is the best game in the Pro Evolution Soccer series since the PlayStation 2 era. But, in terms of graphics, it’s a disaster.
The genius of PES 2016
It’s tough to identify the genius of PES 2016. But this struggled to pinpoints its brilliance is not bad thing, because it seems to be in every insignificant detail.
The two undisputed stars are the physics and AI. Konami has made huge progress in both areas to get those all important duels for the ball and overall control feeling more organic and unpredictable. PES has always been a strategic franchise, now it seems PES 2016 has at last reached the pace and fluency of its rival FIFA.
The AI improvements are also significant, removing the fear of passing the ball to your teammates. You can now be confident that your allies will be protecting you as you wait for an opening to pass to your teammate who has positioned himself well in the sea of players.
It is impressive to see how the 22 player AI’s combine, overlap, contradict, and conflict each other. Watching this in action invites you to work with your team as a single unit, rather than treating them as a pack of lone wolves.
In PES 2016 each victory, however small, feels earned. You must focus on every single part of a play - not just the goal - as an oversight in any element can result in disaster. Accuracy, reflexes, and a cool head are key to winning.
Perhaps this is where PES 2016’s new found appeal lies: that battles or challenges occurring every minute. Every micro-battle can lead to glory or defeat. And best of all - regardless of what happens - it’s fun because you can never guess what will happen next.
A PS3 port?
Here's the bad news: the PC version of PES 2016 is a port of the PS3 version. We honestly have no idea why Konami has not endeavored to adapt the already developed PS4 and Xbox One versions. This older engine means poorer graphics and less dynamic animations.
It’s not all bad though, PES 2016 is still stuffed with content: Legend mode, Master League, Master League MyClub… PES is no longer just about the on the pitch game, it also has a mini-football manager style mode that’s almost as good as the main action. Even in terms of licenses PES 2016 is making gains on FIFA – though it still does lag behind the EA game for likenesses.
Best on console
PES 2016 is superb. It is strategic, unpredictable, amazing, and organic… but we do recommend the PS4 and Xbox One versions if you have the option – the current graphics on PC are unforgivable and stop me giving the game the 9/10 that it deserves.