PES 2015 can be a little stiff in places, but I have not experienced anything close to this moment with EA Sports equivalent, FIFA 15. This year, “the land is ours” is the mantra of developer Konami. This year, the field is accurate.
First, we’ll highlight the area where PES compares very favorably to its biggest rival. It is no exaggeration to say that artificial intelligence here is some of the nicest I have met in any sports simulation. The fact that it will go unnoticed by some is perhaps the greatest compliment you can pay; perhaps it is more clearly perceptible to me because of its apparent lack of FIFA. Here, the wing-backs appear to overlap; midfielders fall when possession is lost; supporters come out to play strikers offside; sprint guardians of their boxes to clear lofted shot just before the center of opposition before it can lash goalward. Errors occur, but are rare and most often attributed to your own mistakes. It is important because it means that every time you lose the ball every time you concede a goal, it’s hard to blame anyone but yourself.
You will not see the intelligence in your own teammates, either. If a full return is booked, you can bet a smart opponent will try to exploit this reservation, focusing their outputs down that side of the field. If you have a slow center-back pairing, then you will see many attempts to play Pacy strikers behind you, either by sliding rule by bulletproof or high passes aimed into space. You will need to identify not only the strengths and weaknesses of your opponent, but your own, fill holes, and changing your offensive style.
There are no means an infallible to win, and while there are some soft spots (corner struck with just above average power in this corridor of uncertainty between goalkeeper and defense was a source of goals for myself reliable enough), you rarely able to count on the same tactic twice. Opponents seem to fit too: after scoring from two, against the attacks as fast direct Real Madrid, Liverpool managed to cut the supply of Cristiano Ronaldo online, and it took a last-minute strike deflected Scrappy before he won the match point.
Pace and stamina material, too. You will be able to rely on feints and cunning at times, but the changes of direction and sudden bursts of speed are more likely to get you after your man. Sprinting full you will usually get addressed, but with wingers like Navas and Stirling, holding the ball before suddenly accelerating is the way to go that extra yard of space to fizz a cross. Your attackers will anticipate this, waving his arms as they pull away from their bearings and move in the box ready to receive the ball. Runs are best used judiciously, also because they are the only way to save you enough stamina to remain effective for 90 minutes. Opponents tires, of course, it is not particularly noticeable until the later stages. Bring on fresh legs – especially when you oppose a nippy striker against an industrious defender – and you’ll be able to see the difference. It is gratifying to see substitutions that have a tangible impact.
As a result of this, not to mention the ability to more effectively control the pace of the game by putting the foot on the ball, PES is simultaneously predictable and unpredictable. It is foreseeable in the best sense: in that you learn to read certain strategies over time, get used to the peculiarities of a team, to respond to changes in personnel and tactics – even knowing instinctively where the ball will end when you release a pass or let fly with a shot. And it is unpredictable in the right way, too: in that you can never rest on your laurels, as the game unfolds organically, and there is no sure-fire hit single route.