OS Scores Explained Pro Evolution Soccer 2014 Overview
Good AI makes buildup play organic and satisfying , Challenging CPU defenses, Improved match-day atmosphere thanks to FOX engine.
Bare bones Master League, little gameplay bugs here and there, generally unpolished.
Bottom Line
Pro Evolution Soccer 2014 is a good game with really good gameplay, but the rest of the title needs serious improvements.
out of 10
Pro Evolution Soccer 2014 REVIEW

Pro Evolution Soccer 2014 Review

Pro Evolution Soccer 2014: Great on the pitch, not as great off of it.

Pro Evolution Soccer 2014 is like that raw, young, promising player who gets thrust into limelight a few years too early. The promise is clearly there, but at the moment there are just too many unpolished elements in its game for it to play consistently with the big boys.

The more time you spend with the game, the more you may find it to be a bit, shall we say, bipolar. There are definitely moments of gameplay brilliance that will wow you, but by the same token there are also some frustrating flaws that can follow immediately which make you wonder how you can be playing the same game.

You will really want to like PES 2014, and many will.


The vaunted FOX engine actually fared quite well in its debut in PES. The animations are realistic—individual limbs moving like they would in real life, slide tackles clipping only the heel of an evading player and causing him to lose balance temporarily. The series’ much-maligned menu interface also got a new coat of paint, with the layout simpler and cleaner. In fact, on the surface, plenty of things looked great—the stadiums, the pitch, and the atmosphere in general. The problem lies in the game’s inconsistencies.

Player faces are a good example. When they get them right, they’re almost photo realistic—Messi, Ronaldo, and van Persie, for example—but the ones that they don’t—Man Utd fans, check out a blond Jonny Evans and a ghastly looking Rafael—are just plain bad. To think we were encouraged when Konami announced that they were going to update faces continuously after the game’s release, thinking it was a sign of great customer support. Turns out they’re probably just deferring their workload down the line.

In terms of audio, well, they’re trying. While it still doesn't add much to the atmosphere, at least Jon Champion and Jim Beglin were provided more lines to, if just momentarily, make things sound a little more refreshing. It also feels like a missed chance that there were very little, if any, references to this year’s Heart feature where crowd support and consequently player confidence increases if the team makes a crucial play on the pitch. As it stands, there’s nothing except in the tactics menu and the free kick indicator that tells you anything about Heart’s effects.

There are also some problems with frame rates. The action stutters as a shot crosses a goal line, whether for a goal or a goal kick. Less consistently, it also stutters as the clock hits 45 or 90 and the added time is about to be displayed. The former won’t interrupt proceedings much since play will be dead one way or another. The latter, though, is rather annoying. It’s surprising that such obvious stuttering made its way into the game.

Overall, PES 2014’s presentation is a mixed bag. It’s certainly an improvement over last year, but it’s not like that was a high bar to clear. The series looked to have made strides in the big picture, but match-by match, there are still too many little flaws that pop up here and there.

PES 2014's gameplay is easily the best part of this year's game, again.


No surprise here, PES 2014’s gameplay remains the strongest part of the package.

Not many things in soccer gaming rival the feeling of scoring a goal in PES. Why? Because anytime you score, it feels earned and for the most part, organic. It’s incredibly satisfying to create a goal because there’s no set way to succeed. Instead, in most cases you just have to take what the opponents’ solid defenses give you.

The biggest weapon in your arsenal is passing. PES 2014’s AI teammates’ are lively, allowing you to create your magic on the ball. They will smartly recognize space and the pace of action and react accordingly. However, reacting is not the only thing they do. They also act—initiate runs that try to offer the ball carrier a direct option or, failing that, move the defense around to create more space.

Ultimately, what makes the AI movement in PES so impressive is that the players don’t just move as individuals, but rather as a team, reacting and anticipating play two or three moves ahead. That might sound rather vague, and it is quite hard to explain well why it makes such a difference, but basically it makes build up play feel fluid and continuous. You can continuously string together one touch passes instead of having to hold the ball up and reset, waiting for teammates to shift and recalibrate to the ball’s new location.

On the other side of this equation, we have the CPU defense. They’re tight and solid (almost too solid, especially in higher difficulties), and will apply heavy pressure, forcing you to occasionally abandon plan A, adapt on the fly, and (gasp) even punt a few long balls up the field to alleviate pressure. This makes the attacking game even more exciting, since you really have to work to outsmart the CPU and create a goal.

The build up to goals in PES is the game's best feature.

There are, however, some annoying flaws that become apparent once you spend more time with the game. First of all, defenders will occasionally switch off and just ball watch. I’m not totally sure, but it seems like they’re too stringent in sticking to their assigned men (like an RB staying on the flanks instead of covering a striker who lost his marker and is on a breakaway), or it could really just be that they’re brain-dead in that moment. While this can be mitigated (once you’ve played enough and can sense that it’s coming) by either taking control of that player or pressing the teammate pressure button, there are the odd times when that split second makes all the difference between a goal and a last-ditch tackle, and it's very frustrating. As well, there are still hints of a catch-up mechanism at work, where defenders can sprint quicker than the ball carrier, making it harder to lose a marker than it should.

And finally, the goalkeepers. Yes they’ve been improved from PES 2013, but just like the visuals that was pretty much the very minimum expectation. Goalkeepers are mostly competent, but there’s still something off with their positioning and movement, like diving through the air for a slow, looping shot. While that previous example doesn’t really change anything in the practical sense, the fact that goalkeepers can rarely break out into a sprint does: when you call him off his line, he will remain in his ready position (legs apart, knees bent), staggering out for a loose ball instead of running full speed to intercept.

Overall the good still very much outweighs the bad, and gameplay easily remains the most enjoyable part of PES 2014. So it's such a shame the negatives are what they are, especially since the catch-up thing and the occasionally clumsy goalkeeper are flaws that have plagued the series for a while now. Again, they’ve been improved, but by now they should’ve been eradicated entirely.

PES is great on the pitch, but falls short off of it.

Game Modes

Simply put, it’s a letdown.

I’m glad not many of us were really holding out hope for any sort of enhancements for any of the game’s modes because there aren’t any, save for an 11 vs. 11 mode online.

Offline, the Master League has been stripped down to its very core, save the two minor additions in the ability to change league teams, and manage national squads. Gone from the mode are the cut scenes (which really didn’t matter anyway), the attribute boosting boots, and the ability to hire staff.

To be fair, even if those things have stayed, the complaint would still have been the same, because they were just shallow additions to a stale game mode. What Master League has lacked for a while now is depth—you, the manager, don’t get to negotiate, you barely get to scout, and you don’t interact with anybody in the game world, be they players or opposing managers or media, at all. It’s hard to stay immersed in this mode when all you’re really doing off the pitch is identify players you want to buy and sell, and then wait for the results.

Besides the new 11 vs 11 mode online, there is also a Galactico League in MLO, where supposedly only the best players can get in, with no salary cap so teams can assemble a team full of, yes, Galacticos. The general online experience feels, no surprise, rough. There’s the whole X360 debacle, and I’ve also encountered instances when through passes weren’t working properly (the receiving player will automatically pass it away). Yes, there’s a fix, but it involves changing the passing settings, which means forcing you to alter the way you play the game. Again, unpolished.

PES 2014 is simply a good game on the cusp of greatness...once again.

Final Thoughts

There’s a great game lurking somewhere in PES 2014. Gameplay is exciting, save for those few annoying flaws that pop now and then, and the FOX engine can help the franchise reinvigorate its visuals. But as an overall package, it’s just not there yet. There are still too many things that need to be fixed or rebuilt. The potential is great, but we’re not shelling out sixty bucks for a game that might be live up to the promise a few years down the road.

PES 2014 is probably not a must-buy for most people. Now, if literally all you care about is playing a great match, then yes, you’d probably get a lot of mileage out of this year’s game because gameplay is still, for the most part, realistic and exciting. But if you need deep game modes and presentation elements to continuously provide incentive to play matches, then perhaps it comes down to how much sixty dollars mean to you.

Learning Curve: The AI will make it easy for you to play a good game of soccer even with the most basic controls. CPU defenses can be ruthless though. As for modes, they’re so simple you really don’t need any acclimatizing.

Control Scheme: While the control schemes have been simplified to some extent, there are still a lot of nuances that only seasoned PES players can remember from the get-go. It may take a while.

Visuals: Much improved atmosphere and animations.

Audio: Better, but still subpar.

Score: 7.5 (Good)

Scoring Note: Ultimately, as I’ve mentioned in the final section, it’s all about where your priorities lie. If gameplay is the be all and end all, then perhaps you’d find the game better than a 7.5, because on the whole, PES 2014 still shines quite brightly on the pitch. However, personally, I just can’t overlook the rawness of the game—from the occasional AI defensive miscues and the catch-up mechanism on-pitch, to the shallowness in its game modes—Master League, especially—off of it.

Pro Evolution Soccer 2014 Videos
Member Comments
# 1 TheLetterZ @ 10/03/13 11:06 AM
Nice review, Kelvin!

Quirks aside, I enjoy playing the game for the most part. No questioning a barren experience off the pitch.
# 2 gabri3l3 @ 10/03/13 11:47 AM
Overall PES 2014 is worse than FIFA 14 ... but the gameplay blows away the EA SPORTS one
# 3 ty5oke @ 10/03/13 12:16 PM
I think the review is spot on for me. I'm still enjoying the game but I just bought NBA2k14 for the first time in 4 or 5 years and the presentation/association mode in that game makes it hard to play ML in PES.

I like the addition of being able to switch teams and manage intl squads but it need a complete overhaul for next year. Game will continue to be in the rotation due to the great gameplay and the exceptional mods that can be installed for PC.
# 4 dubcity @ 10/03/13 02:50 PM
7.5 is the exact grade I would give it as well. I can't see scoring it any higher, given how incomplete it is out of the box. Maybe by the end of the year it will be patched and improved to the point of deserving a higher grade. The game is so heavily focused on gameplay, as evidenced by the terrible menu setup, and the fact that even that aspect of the game is so flawed at this point makes it tough to consider this a complete game.
# 5 miraiii @ 10/03/13 03:49 PM

Which mods are you talking about?
# 6 Peter_OS @ 10/03/13 05:37 PM
Imo, PES AI and gameplay is better than the competition. Too bad it lacks the licensing and presentation.
# 7 LingeringRegime @ 10/03/13 07:18 PM
I like the presentation for the most part.

Nothing like playing in the Champions League, Europa League, and now the AFC Champions League.

The pre-match pageantry is second to none.

I have more of an issue with the commentary, they need to be allowed to freestyle in a both together instead of talking over each other at times.
# 8 roolz @ 10/03/13 07:20 PM
Poor review when gameplay is supposedly king and this blows FIFA out of the water - especially offline.

Online, football games are spam fests, who can button bash the fastest... theres no realism, theres no excitement... its pick the best team, run the same moves to score the glitch goal that EA have left in there again.

As for modes, Master League might not have a scouting system etc, BUT its far better than the EA offering... even more so on PC once the game gets fully modded.

Side by side for a game of football, anyone who knows their eggs will say PES.

FIFA is for arcade gamers, thats why it has stupid card collecting modes and players like AKINFENWA... BEAST ffs. Seriously a league 2 heap of shyte who can run riot.

Rant over.
# 9 roolz @ 10/03/13 07:21 PM
Regards commentary, PES has always had **** commentary... its like a tradition. If they made it any good, it wouldnt be PES.
# 10 LingeringRegime @ 10/03/13 07:36 PM
I used to say it too, but I don't think it is fair or correct to pigeon hole everyone who plays FIFA as arcade players anymore.

There are some great sliders out there that really turn the game into a simulation. See Orion's.
# 11 lnin0 @ 10/04/13 06:34 PM
I am buying one or the other tonight/tomorrow. I've been playing the demos and am so on the fence. Roolz had me in the PES camp after his rant but LingeringRegime pulled me back again.

how is the frame rate?
how is the online play - lag/griefers?
how is the player switching (demo seems to be a bit off or do odd things on turnovers/loose balls. I use setting just below full manual switching)?
can you switch camera angles online?
# 12 KG @ 10/04/13 06:45 PM
A few things I'd really like patched:

When the CPU has a breakaway they tend to hesitate allowing my defenders to catch-up

The keepers need to do a better job at parrying shots away from trouble as well as react to 2nd shots faster. Keepers are always a sensitive subject in PES but they're not as bad as people make them out to be. IRL keepers make huge gaffes, just see this weeks UCL matches. I saw Buffon and a few other experienced keepers make some idiotic mistakes. It happens, just need to be cleaned up some.

Fouls. I feel like the contact animations for fouls are there, they just aren't called consistently. There are some cases where the fouls are called but the ref is off the screen and plays the advantage (at least using the camera angle I play with)

A few things I love:

The pace of play is really spot on. At times it's frantic but at other times it's slowed down. IRL, matches have phases of domination and I think it's pretty accurately represented here. As Chelsea in a league mode I traveled to the San Siro to take on Milan in the UCL. They came out like gangbusters and I called on Cech to bail me out. After about 15mins we settled down and were able to get a few goals. We eased up on the gas, gave up a goal and they seized momentum.

When good players are on good form (arrow & heart) they are a joy to play with. They close down faster, make better runs, etc...

The learning curve with the new dribbling system is steep but very rewarding since it's so player specific. I can tell the difference between Mata & Hazard.
# 13 bakan723 @ 10/05/13 01:33 AM
Originally Posted by lnin0
how is the player switching (demo seems to be a bit off or do odd things on turnovers/loose balls.
Yea, player switching was def delayed in the demo. I thought the controls felt unresponsive in general & controlling the players felt sluggish and a bit clunky.

The demo didn't have a game speed option this year either. Does the full game ? Felt like it needed to be turned up in the demo. Maybe that would of helped a bit with the feeling of sluggishness. But the player switching def had some input delay goin on, and that can ruin a game on it's own.
# 14 scottyo60 @ 10/05/13 07:51 PM
Hey I'm new to the series (xbox360) and I really bought this as a way to show support to non EA products after enjoying the demo gameplay. My question and I've looked around, is there a list to the generic teams or saves that can help get all the teams that are generic?

I also do to know too much about soccer so generic rosters are not an issue, I just know names
# 15 LingeringRegime @ 10/05/13 08:16 PM
Originally Posted by lnin0
I am buying one or the other tonight/tomorrow. I've been playing the demos and am so on the fence. Roolz had me in the PES camp after his rant but LingeringRegime pulled me back again.

how is the frame rate?
how is the online play - lag/griefers?
how is the player switching (demo seems to be a bit off or do odd things on turnovers/loose balls. I use setting just below full manual switching)?
can you switch camera angles online?
Frame rate is a little choppy in some cut scenes. Gameplay is smooth.
Haven't played much online.
Player switching is fine for me with semi-assisted.
Not sure about online camera angles.

If you plan on playing a lot of online go with FIFA. Problem is I have had trouble finding someone to play against, because I use full manual settings.

If not go with PES.

If I had to choose one it would be PES, as others have said it is more organic. Feels more alive to me. Gameplay is amazing.

I want to abandon PES, but I just can't. It has more soul.

Originally Posted by scottyo60
Hey I'm new to the series (xbox360) and I really bought this as a way to show support to non EA products after enjoying the demo gameplay. My question and I've looked around, is there a list to the generic teams or saves that can help get all the teams that are generic?

I also do to know too much about soccer so generic rosters are not an issue, I just know names
Check the Option File thread. The instructions of how to use them are on the first post. You must use a BLUS option file, it is for the USA.

I think there are a few for the 360 available.
# 16 lovemuscle @ 10/05/13 10:40 PM
It is unbelievable to me that this game gets all this praise when headers are flat out broken, and volleys and controlled shots are pretty much extinct as well. Variety used to be what made this series great. You would see awesome passing that lead to all kinds of different scoring, not any more. Now it's post up your man spin and fire. This game has gotten too mechanical making it very bland. And I repeat HEADERS, CONTROLLED SHOTS, AND VOLLEYS ARE BROKEN.......No soccer game should be praised having these glaring fundamental issues. Extremely unacceptable!
# 17 morro316 @ 10/06/13 05:40 AM
The core is great but so many stupid elements that break the game. The 360 debacle has essentially murdered online play and I doubt people will ever come back. The lack of pace differential is really jarring as well. Cristiano Ronaldo and Rio Ferdinand in a foot race is dead even. Absurd and just a cheap well of eliminating the pace element of football games. The presentation is disastrously bad and no transfer updates whilst we head into October is just ridiculous.

Konami seemingly relies on Option Files/Mod creators to save them from having to bother with the secondary features. But when you have set your online mode on fire and unable to fix it till seemingly November, you deserve to have your game miserably fail.
# 18 Mikeatris @ 10/06/13 07:34 AM
Originally Posted by lnin0
I am buying one or the other tonight/tomorrow. I've been playing the demos and am so on the fence. Roolz had me in the PES camp after his rant but LingeringRegime pulled me back again.

how is the frame rate?
how is the online play - lag/griefers?
how is the player switching (demo seems to be a bit off or do odd things on turnovers/loose balls. I use setting just below full manual switching)?
can you switch camera angles online?
I feel ya. I usually buy PES on release date by not being able to get online is a HUGE drawback to me. I'm on my 360 on MP 99.9% of the time. I only buy MP games and rent the SP games from Gamefly. That being said I am just gonna get Fifa today since TRU got 40 bucks off if u get Fifa and NHL plus I got a 15.00 gift card. I am gonna Gamefly PES this yr and just play 2013 for my online experience. If it gets fleshed out down the road I will get 2014 but there's absolutely no way I can get it and it has no online on it as of right now.
# 19 mauro78 @ 10/06/13 07:38 AM
My only gripe is the lack of weather effects such as rain/snow :-( .....other than that I love PES 2014 :-)
# 20 carnalnirvana @ 10/06/13 07:48 AM
if it wasn't for the horrible menu's and bad roster/ratings, this game is golden when edited...

there really are 2 games on this disc, and konami should have put in a roster exchange option, like madden got recently.

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