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The Sense Of Authenticity Is Added To By The New Heart Feature
Year after year, the struggle between Pro Evo and FIFA continues unabated, with most football fans firmly entrenched on one side or the other. Both series have had their years in the sun, and whilst FIFA has more recently come out on top for the current generation of consoles, Pro Evo can arguably lay claim to being the best football simulation for the PlayStation 2 era. With Pro Evolution Soccer 2014, though, Konami has made some of the biggest changes to the series that this generation of consoles has seen, with the most notable being the implementation of their new Fox Engine technology, which allows for improved animations and physics. Is this enough to make Pro Evolution Soccer 2014 a title contender, or does it reduce the series to mere relegation fodder?
As usual, Pro Evolution 2014 features the same sporadic licensing that has dogged the series for as long as most gamers will remember. While some major leagues, such as the Liga BBVA from Spain, are fully licensed, and a whole host of new South American leagues such as Chile and Argentina are included, other major leagues such as the English Premier League only have one or two teams with the correct name, badge and kit. Despite this, player names and likenesses are all fairly correct, even if, at the time of writing, the game doesn’t feature the vast majority of transfers that were conducted during the summer transfer window. For fans of the FIFA series, and its near-complete licensing, it may come as a bit of a shock to be playing as North London instead of Arsenal, or Merseyside Red instead of Liverpool.
For long-term fans of Pro Evo, though, this is merely how things are, and most die-hard fans will tell you they don’t come for the fancy licensed packaging, they come for the gameplay.Pro Evolution Soccer 2014Luckily for them, Pro Evolution Soccer 2014 certainly plays as you’d expect from the series, with a much slower tempo than FIFA, and more of a need for tactical, thought-out buildup play, as opposed to frantic through-balls over the top of the defence. The Fox Engine brings some impressive animations to matches as well, with the new MASS (Motion Animation Stability System) creating some incredibly realistic player interactions, particularly with slide-tackles. Players will now fall based on where they’ve been hit on their body, with a full-on frontal slide tackle creating a completely different reaction than a late clip of the ankles.
You’ll see a lot more evidence of players holding the opposition at arm’s length as well, shielding the ball whilst stationary, or using their shoulders in an attempt to outmuscle those running alongside them. The ball itself is clearly an object independent of the players now, as it’s no longer tied to a particular player’s animation. This can create some chaos when it begins pinging around a crowded penalty area, and means that you really need to make sure that your player has the ball under close control at all times.What most of these seemingly aesthetic changes bring to the game is that Pro Evolution Soccer 2014 plays and looks a lot more like an actual game of football, and this makes you realise just how scripted and pre-assigned animations in previous entries of both Pro Evo and FIFA have been.
The sense of authenticity is added to by the new Heart feature, which governs how the crowd, and in turn, the players, react to the events happening in-game. Heart is most noticeable during particular instances, such as scoring an early goal, or managing to snatch a late equaliser, though it more obviously affects the crowd than the players, with the volume and frequency of Buy Fut 13 Coins chants noticeably increasing when the intensity of the game picks up. Heart is supposed to affect the mental attributes of players, but with my time spent with the game, I couldn’t really tell much of a difference in their performance levels following these incidents. It may instead be one of those inclusions that requires a few months of dedicated play to really begin deciphering adequately.
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