It’s that time of year again, forget the Xbox vs PlayStation battle, it’s time to see who is the real king of the football title, beginning with Pro Evolution Soccer 17.

Despite being outsold by FIFA last year PES 2016 was highly regarded by the football purists, unfortunately there were lots of problems with data patches, which dampened gamers love for the game. This year there are promises that those issues won’t happen again, there are lots of new licenses acquired and lots of improvements on the pitch too. Let’s take a look.

If you managed to get hold of the demo at the end of last month it was clear to see how much had changed and having had time to play with the full version, it’s fair to say this is the best Pro Evo yet.

PES 2017 feels like the most ‘real’ football you’ll play on a console, from the way the ball can zip across a wet surface to the way the players hold up play to create space for their team mates. The AI is much smarter this year, goalkeepers make less poor decisions, that’s not to say they are unbeatable, just a bit more reliable than Joe Hart.

proevo-2017-1Defenders read the play with greater intelligence, they are more than prepared to slide across to intercept a pass and you’ll often find them attacking strikers to clear a ball before the danger arises. Attackers also look to exploit space quickly, trying to open up the defence as many much as possible.

What impresses me most about PES 2017 is how instant everything is, most football teams know what pass is going to be played 2 or 3 passes in advance, if you can plan ahead in PES the game will allow you to execute those moves with ease. It’s the first football game that hasn’t given me the feeling it’s on the rails.

Unlike PES 2016, the gameplay is more methodical, passing is crucial, as is patience, waiting to break down the opposition before pulling the trigger. The biggest win I managed was 3-0, and even that took a lot of work. Winning games is hard and very rewarding.

proevo-2017-2The game will assist you with passing, shooting and even help you with selecting the right player at the right time. It’s worth experimenting with the options to see what suits you best, there is also a training section that will take you through the basics, before moving you on to more advanced moves.

I’ve done really well to get this far into the review without mentioning the licensing. This year sees a special partnership with FC Barcelona as well as teams such as Arsenal (yay!) and Liverpool (boo). The player scans look incredible, as do some of the stadiums.

Generally the presentation has improved, the UI is much nicer and the licensed competitions are great to take part in, the commentary is still terrible… This year Konami have done lots of work on Player and Team ID, making players and teams instantly recognisable through looks and movement. They have done a great job, take a look at the Demo and play as Barcelona to see what I mean.

All of the game modes you would expect return, MyClub, the Ultimate Team in Pro Evo world is a good mode, and will become more all be once everyone else gets their copies. Become a Legend sees you start your journey to becoming a legendary footballer, I started at Hull, so anyway would be a step up for me. Master league also returns giving you the chance to manage all aspects of your club, on and off the pitch. You’ll manage, scouting, negotiations and your squad trying to lead them to glory, it’s probably the best mode in the game. It’s great fun loading up the fictional players and trying to turn them into World beaters.

proevo-2017-3Pro Evolution Soccer 2017 is a brilliant football game, on the pitch is an absolute pleasure to play, from the players use their weight to hold the ball to the euphoria of scoring a goal at the end of a 20 pass move. It’s great to see so many improvements since last years title. There are still things to work on, but it’s safe to say FIFA 17 has a job on its hands…

Thanks to Konami and Xbox for supporting TiX