Pro Evolution Soccer 2017 review: This masterful recreation of the beautiful game marks a return to form for the series

Andy Lacey
Pro Evolution Soccer 2017

Trump and Clinton can squabble all they like over the fabled US “swing voter”. In the world of console football games, there are no such shifting loyalties. You are either a Pro Evolution Soccer fan or a FIFA fan, not both.

But like it or not, Pro Evolution fans have had to admit for some years that FIFA has worn the football crown, bejeweled with all the flashy licences.

Pleasingly, the latest release in the Pro Evolution series finally mounts a serious claim to the throne. Pro Evolution Soccer 2017 is a slick, rewarding experience with stunning visuals, heralding a return to the Pro Evo magic that somehow made goals matter.

You might score a forensically constructed masterpiece. You might bundle over a frantic goal-line scramble that goes in off the referee’s elbow. Both are a delight.

There is no single killer alteration in PES 17, but a combination of many lovingly rendered details. When it’s wet, passes skim frustratingly off the turf a yard ahead of where they would if it were dry. Tufts of grass bloom from where you launch a cross. Kits grow believably grubby as the game wears on. The ball physics are mesmerising and hyper-realistic.

The big players also feel genuinely distinct, meticulously hardcoded to have all of the characteristics of the men they’re simulating. When I took control of Ibrahimovic for example, he was as imperious as ol’ Captain Smugwash himself. Defending against him feels like trying to wrangle a wildebeest.

Some of the residual kinks, however, are still present. The commentary is bafflingly disconnected from play (I’m looking at you, Jim Beglin) and the lack of all the official club emblems and names will be a problem for those who care about authenticity. For its true fans though, PES is finally back.

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