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PES 2017 review




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PES 2017: Is it the best football game ever?
  • PES 2017: Is it the best football game ever?
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  • pes 2017


Our Score:



  • The best game of football I've ever played
  • Fox Engine continues to shine
  • Tactics add new layer of depth
  • New animations add realism


  • Modes have stagnated from last year
  • Online issues still persist

Available on PlayStation 4 (version tested), Xbox One, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, PC.

PES 2017 is like a great coach. Great coaches don’t just pick the team and relax, but make every player better through incremental improvements to get individuals to work as a team. Through simple controls and fluid gameplay, PES 2017 removes the disconnect between thought and action for the first time in a football game. It’s your own private Guardiola. It's a shame then that the best game of football is let down by a lack of innovation off it and ongoing online stability problems.

The players on the pitch somehow telepathically know what I’m trying to achieve, and at times the it's simply breathtaking. This is the best game of football I've ever played. New tactical innovations and added depth only serve to remove barriers further. Off the pitch a minor facelift isn’t enough to match the level of innovation on it, but when the football is this good, it doesn’t really matter.

Related: PlayStation 4 (Slim) review

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Konami has been very bullish in the lead-up to PES’s launch. We’ve heard boasts of countless innovations in 2017, from ‘Player ID’, hundreds of new player animations improving first touch, and even attacking the licensing issue head-on by securing deals with some of the world’s biggest clubs. Some stand out more than others, starting with the new player animations.

Within my first few matches there were at least half a dozen moments I sat back and watched replays of, desperate to share their glory with the world. As Real Madrid (or MD White, to give them their unofficial title), I scored a Karim Benzema goal worthy of any highlight reel, and pushed all of three buttons. Starting at full-back, an interception from Dani Carvajal led to a long ball up the wing, played deliciously with the outside of his boot, which Gareth Bale controlled expertly from behind with his heel, taking the ball in his stride. A double-tap of the cross button led to a low-driven ball right into the path of Benzema, who had expertly got in front of his marker in the box, and was able to tap the ball home with a backheel.

The pass with the outside of the boot, the control with the heel and the backheel tap-in required no additional controller input from myself, but were all exactly what I hoped the players would do. Carvajal needed to make the pass with the outside of his boot to apply the right spin on the ball for the pass to beat the defender, Bale needed to use his heel to control the ball to avoid turning to control the pass, which was behind him, and the same for Benzema’s backheel. To be able to know these players possess the ability to make the best type of play according to the context – without me, as the controller of these superstars, having to press four or five buttons – means I feel truly connected to the game.

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It’s something which has plagued the FIFA series for years, over-complicating the control scheme in order to add depth and complexity to the football. The fact that PES creates beautiful football with such little effort on behalf of the player is a huge feather in its cap.

This doesn’t mean the player is a passenger, either. The contextual system simply serves to remove barriers between what you want to happen and it actually happening. Build-up play and the variety of ways a goal can be created are amazing. Each team requires different approaches in order to play to their strengths. As Madrid I focused on wing play, with Bale and Ronaldo attacking with sheer pace and tenacity. Barcelona keep the ball on the floor, playing through the middle and using Iniesta’s close control to outwit defenders and create space for the front three. You still have to execute your game plans and tactics, and Konami has improved this with new advance instructions.

Thanks to signing licenses with the likes of Liverpool, Dortmund and Barcelona, players can now try and play like them with new attacking and defensive philosophies, including Gegenpress, Tiki-Taka and False 9. In practice, these strategies have been implemented excellently. It really is noticeable when a team has one of these tactics selected, both in the case of opponents and with teams you’re controlling. You’ll barely have room to breath against a team using Gegenpress, while your forward will come running towards your midfielders, leaving huge space up front for your wingers to attack, when using a False 9.

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Naturally, however, being the first year these new features have been added, there’s a lack of options, meaning you’ll soon feel as though you’re running out of choice and variety. Unless you want to attack like Barcelona or defend like a Jurgen Klopp team, the philosophies available won’t cater to your every tactical need. It’d be great if, in future iterations, players could craft their own tactics, so we can fall on our swords during a match, just like real managers.

With licenses secured with the likes of Barca and Liverpool, these teams play much closer to their real-life counterparts, and this leads to another problem. With Konami making such a big push with the handful of licenses its secured, it only serves to bring the notable absentees further into the light. However, to counter this, the developer has also made it very easy to download the official kits which the dedicated PES community works so hard to build each year with file sharing. Click here if you want to know how to download the Option File into your game.

In terms of modes, all those from last year make a return with a much-needed facelift to the user interface, providing a cleaner and more accessible experience. However, functionally the likes of the Champions League, Master League and Become a Legend remain largely the same.

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The only notable change is the introduction of transfer deadline day in Master League, with players able to make one incoming or outgoing transfer decision every two hours. It’s a weird system, but once you get your head around it, it does force more considered decision-making. Just don’t leave everything to the last minute or your team could be left massively short of bodies.

Now that the game is out in the wild, the servers have come online and I can jump into multiplayer matches, and here is where the real problems rear their ugly head once again. Server stability, lag and disconnects were game-breakingly frequent in PES 2016, and while there are signs of improvements this year, it's not enough. I'm still suffering input delay, which means the fast and flowing football which makes offline so brilliant becomes a frustrating and jarring experience. Lag means your tactics and plans for a phase of play get completely thrown out of the window at times and there's even incidences of the match freezing for a second or two.

That's all once you get into a match, with matchmaking taking at least a few minutes to find me an opponent, even when I free up the restrictions. Better than last year, yes, but nowhere near good enough.

It's such a shame because this was a huge opportunity for PES to truly be a FIFA contender. With the football being the best its ever been (and arguably better than its EA rival), being able to take that experience seamlessly online was a must, but Konami has missed a wide open goal. Hopefully the server issues improve in time.


PES 2017 plays the best game of football I've ever experienced, offline. Online it continues to suffer with similar issues to last year's entry, albeit there are improvements across the board but nowhere near to the level I was hoping for. I've been able to enjoy some lag-free matches, but these tend to be the exceptions which prove the rule.

With FIFA 17 bringing forth changes across the board, the competition is fierce this year. Konami had the chance to truly stake a claim as the champions this year, and certainly did so on the pitch. Off it? There's still a bit of work to be done.

However, if you're looking to play an amazing game of football, PES is the best it has ever been.

Overall Score


Ian Rose

June 1, 2016, 12:02 pm

I used to love master league online and then they had to create MyClub which gives you no freedom at all in how you want to play or players that you bring into the club.
Experimenting with new managers was impossible because of the time it took for your players to adapt and the losses that followed were just infuriating.
Level 1 teams could include Ronaldo and Neymar which destroyed any defence in that level. People white ball benched to have the strongest possible starting eleven.
You can't pick the formation that you want and when a manager appears that plays your favourite formation, his tactics were always the opposite of how you want to play.
The team level should be determined by the maximum overall rating of a player and not the overall rating of the team, this will stop Ronaldo and Neymar vs white ball defenders.
I have purchased every PES game since ISS on the Nintendo but no more. If they don't sort out the lag cheats online and don't give us any freedom to CREATE a team online, I will never buy a PES again.
PES is just a money grabbing micro turned macro transaction bait of a game.


June 5, 2016, 4:41 pm

The need for online play with reduced lag (and reduced long balling) is important. Additionally, the desire for an online mode you can tinker with completely (like MLO) is understandable. But I disagree with "The team level should be determined by the maximum overall rating of a player and not the overall rating of the team." I think it's a clever implementation that you had to become familiar with a manager and his tactics, and couldn't just shoe horn any bunch of superstars into any formation and get results immediately (like some games). The 2016 failure there was the white benching issue, but not sure how to fix that game-wise.

Having said that, I buy PES for the offline gaming, which is best in class. Am concerned about the angled runs and standoff defenders still being problematic, but if they reduce goals straight from kick off and intercepting goal kicks even on superstar, that would be an improvement.

Ken Jones

August 5, 2016, 10:07 pm

I can't take non of you guys serious when you continue with the lame joke about the unlicensed team names, like they can't be edited. Even the uniforms/kits on PS4 can be fully edited.

Doc Jeremic

August 19, 2016, 4:55 am

and it is still 1000000000 times better than FIFA


August 30, 2016, 1:54 pm

License have never been an issue for me, since I game on PC. There are patch makers for PES like: Smoke Patch, PESedit and PTE Patch. My favourite is Smoke patch since they add almost all tattoos, boots, real scoreboards for all the leagues and continental competitions. Smoke patch kits are of HD and you can even see the needlework on the kits. And they add all the teams' stadium with real names.

Sergio Cruz

September 13, 2016, 2:12 pm

It's a shame the PC version is a downgraded port from the PS3-X360 version once again (confirmed by Konami). This year I won't pay them anything, they have to work harder on the PC version.

Fabian S.

September 13, 2016, 3:06 pm

I have no choice but to wait until I get The PS4 Pr to play this game, I sold my PS4 a few weeks ago. Probably by november I can get a price drop.
The Demo was great. Gameplay has improved greatly comparing to last year edition. Passing is now way more precise, goalkeeper's reactions are super realistic.
Best football game ever!
With a gameplay like this, I couldnt care less about the lack of licenses

Alfredo Guzman

September 14, 2016, 1:13 am

I have pes 16 on pc at max graphics and looks a looot better than ps3 lol

Vladi Vostok

September 15, 2016, 12:58 am

It doesn't matter. Still crap running on last gen engine


September 15, 2016, 2:16 pm

I LOVE THIS GAME!! Wow I thought PES16 was the best ever but believe me when I say this (from an ex fifa fan) PES 17 is the best football game I have ever played, i cant put into words what it is but the feel of the game is just top draw, licensing doesn't bother me and I will download the user created updates as soon as they are out. Fifa cant compare, not one bit.

Sergio Cruz

September 15, 2016, 4:06 pm

The game looks really bad, it's like 60% of PS4 version. And I have a GTX1070...

Tasos Evangelakos

September 19, 2016, 7:34 am

It is not JUST that! I know you love this game but you dont have to defend it like its yours! Imagine a great famous restaurant! You see all the ads about the delicious food and how great everything is, and when you ACTUALLY GO THERE, you find out that you have to cook yourself from great ingredients to eat the great food, and after the cooking, you have to pay for it! What your reaction would be? Thats the point!

I will not pay 40 euros to a company that did absolutelly nothing for my race (i dont care about PS4) to make the game look good! why pay them?

I prefer give that money and a bit more to EA, a company that i hate, but i admit that they work hard for a stunning result!

PES has 10 stadiums? FIFA has 40!
PES has 5 licenced leagues? FIFA has almost all!
PES has rainy and fine weather, FIFA has, sun, cloudy, showers, rain, snow, hazy, foggy etc!

This year was clear and we did bait! PES was advertising so much about Barcelona and Camp nou, and we doidnt thought that they wont have any spanish team licence. Just barca!

Believe me im a huge PES fan but im really dissapointed! Dont even brag about gameplay, because it is not enough!


September 26, 2016, 10:51 pm

The gameplay really isnt that good, you're either a complete imbecile or you havent actually played a custom modded (and I'm not just talking about the official mods/patches /Konami updates or PTE/Galaxy etc here) version of 16 because a customised 16 simply blows it out of the water. Every year same old shit its like watching 4 year olds shouting with delight about a piece of crap they have been given that has bells on it. It's no wonder game franchises seem to go on forever while doing very little each new installment, a few good (*cough* all paid off) reviews and they're all creaming their pants. The herd really needs to wake up.
Does it never strike anyone as suspicious that ads to buy the game are plastered all over these sites and that they ALWAYS given the game a positive review? The negatives are always aesthetic which is a joke.

José Zafra

September 29, 2016, 7:09 pm

Fifete... Fanboyola!


September 30, 2016, 1:48 pm

Love your rationale - I prefer PES 16 over 17 so I must be a FIFA fanboy? You prefer vaginas so you must be gay? Rentboy!

José Zafra

September 30, 2016, 1:56 pm



October 15, 2016, 2:45 am

This game is absolute nonsense!!! Its like the just make the games and don't be test it before putting it out there in the market! Nonsense!


March 7, 2017, 8:12 am

Yeah. I agreed. I was ex Fifa fan since Fifa 98 until Fifa 2011. I started playing PES 2012 since then and i love the gameplay system is very realistic and more 'manual' feel while playing it. The best football game ever. There is no argument on Fifa to be the best in graphic wise since it exist compare to PES or WE.

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