Much like Liverpool fans perennially thinking that this could be “their year” after one good result, so Pro Evolution Soccer diehards have clung bravely to the idea that the series is about to return to form and challenge the dominance of EA’s FIFA juggernaut. On console at least, the new PES does seem to be enjoying a critical comeback. The game, which was released this week, is hovering around 89 on Metacritic on PS4. Which isn’t a surprise to me, because when I played it at E3 earlier this year it felt slick and satisfying. Naturally, I asked whether this year’s PC version would finally be on par with the current-gen consoles, but sadly received little in the way of reassurance.
Now the game is here, I can confirm that PES 2017 on PC is once again a halfway house between the last and current-gen consoles. You’ll have to wait a while for our full review, but suffice to say it’s a disappointment to be denied the complete experience. On Steam there are currently 346 user reviews, with a mixed verdict overall. “I really love the franchise but I can't let this through again, the graphics are the same since 2015,” writes one typical user. Other reviewers note that they’re pleased with some of the gameplay upgrades, but the consensus is that the lack of visual improvement is unacceptable at this point. Predictably, it’ll likely be left to the community to gussy things up with mods and patches. Indeed, some are already experimenting with SweetFX to add motion blur and depth of field effects.
As for why Konami still hasn’t managed to bring the PC version up to the same standard as PS4 and Xbox One, we can only speculate. My assumption is that football games make the vast majority of their money on console, which has led to the Japanese publisher focusing most of its resources on those versions. But frankly that’s no excuse for passing off a subpar product on PC players. If you don’t want to put out the best possible game, maybe don’t release one at all. I’ve contacted Konami to see what the explanation is, and whether the situation is likely to improve in the future. I’ll let you know if and when I hear back.
On a positive personal note, my beloved Arsenal joins Liverpool as the only officially licensed English clubs this year. Although when I took the Gunners for a spin in the office, half the players’ arms kept inexplicably disappearing. As you can see below, Santi Cazorla was about as pleased with that situation as you’d imagine. Happily, playing on my GTX 1080-powered home machine the problem seemed to fix itself and I haven’t see anyone reporting similar problems. Still, forgetting to bring their own arms to a game would be a classic piece of Arsenal self-destructiveness. Maybe Pro Evo 2017 is all-in on realism after all.