|Platform||360, PS3, PC|
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It’s no secret that Konami’s Pro Evolution Soccer endured one of the most painful transitions to the PS3/360 generation. Shingo “Seabass” Takatsuka and his team ruled the PS2 generation (yes, FIFA may have sold more, but most players knew Pro Evo was the superior title) but fell on hard times when it came time to transition to a new piece of hardware. It looks like Konami’s beleaguered soccer sim might finally be turning a corner with Pro Evolution Soccer 2014, though, as the action’s now powered by Hideo Kojima’s Fox Engine.
For most games I see at E3, I don’t get a chance to actually sit down with the developers and have the opportunity to add significant context to what I’ve seen and played. Thankfully, my chat with the folks behind Pro Evolution Soccer 2014 was highly illuminating. And not only did I discover that creative producer Kei Masuda is a hardcore Urawa Red Diamonds supporter, but I also was able to have the team directly address some of my concerns with the demo. While the Fox Engine certainly looks nice?faces now have a sometimes-uncomfortable level of detail (I don’t want to call out any players, but soccer fans know who I’m talking about!)?the game seemed to chug along at times, particularly during player introductions and when the screen was packed with bodies. PES Productions manager Toru Kato acknowledged problems with the E3 build and said it’s only 70 percent complete right now?and the team is working to make sure that the final product lives up to the promise of the Fox Engine.
I’m also intrigued by the team’s desire to truly capture the element of a home crowd influencing the play of the pitch. Other soccer games have attempted to add this feature, but none has ever really succeeded in making it feel like the intense supporters’ sections make any sort of difference. As a fan of soccer atmosphere as much as anything, I’m hoping Konami can actually make it work this time around.