Pro Evolution Soccer 2018

Game review by
Marc Saltzman, Common Sense Media
Pro Evolution Soccer 2018 Game Poster Image
Fantastic soccer game kicks in new modes, control features.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this game.

Positive Messages

Encourages healthy competition, playing by rules (penalties if they're broken), national pride, outdoor activity.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Has many thousands of players from around the world, so if they're good role models in real life, they could be considered good role models in the game. But reverse is true, too.

Ease of Play

Simple controls, easy to learn.

Violence & Scariness

Possible to trip, be tripped; there are injuries sustained in some career/managerial modes.
 

Language
Consumerism

Lots of branding in, around pitch, on players, in broadcast-like presentation. Familiar logos of international brands are visible.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Pro Evolution Soccer 2018 is a professional soccer simulation. It doesn't contain anything inappropriate for young eyes or ears (including a music soundtrack), but parents should be aware that the game supports live online chat via headset microphone, so players might engage in inappropriate chat with strangers or hear strong profanity. It also packs tons of advertising of many different companies on players, in stadiums, and in the broadcast graphics.

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What's it about?

PRO EVOLUTION SOCCER 2018 (or PES 2018) is a video game that lets you virtually play soccer -- or "football" as it's known everywhere outside of the U.S. and Canada -- as or against your favorite professional team, players, and leagues. In this year's game, PES 2018 offers a number of new features, improvements, and production tweaks, ranging from online cooperative ("co-op") play with new two-versus-two and three-versus-three modes (with prizes), random selection games (randomizing the players each time), a more realistic game pace and controls (including strategic dribbling and contextual shielding to protect the ball), smarter artificial intelligence (AI), lifelike players and stadiums, and more. Speaking of the graphics, players have been motion-captured for a rework of the animation system, plus player models have been overhauled, with the addition of player photo scans (including full body tattoos for the likes of Marco Reus, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Philippe Coutinho, and Neymar Jr.).

Is it any good?

While this installment isn't as significant as last year's game, it's still a big step forward in the evolution of the franchise. The controls are better this year than in past games, based on what Konami calls "Real Touch+," which includes more intuitive dribbling, deking, passing, and striking on the pitch. It's not just the direction of the ball and choosing the amount of force; the player's body gets more into it, including his chest, shoulders, thighs, and parts of the foot (front, sides, and heel). Some of it feels automated, mind you, but by playing with the analog sticks, the control seems tighter, more responsive, and lifelike, utilizing real physics. And watching the players with these new animations and controls makes it feel like you're watching a real match on TV. Along with regular game modes, some new additions are worth calling out, including the new three-versus-three online co-op option to pit teams of three players against one another (or you can opt for two-on-two if you can't find anyone else). And then there's Random Selection Match mode, where your team is made up of randomized players, but you can set variables, such as teams, leagues, and nationalities to choose from. Back from last year are online competitions (play against others in short seasons). Those who are really good at this game should opt for the uber-competitive PES League. There's also PES 2018's MyClub, which works both off- and online. You'll meticulously draft new players and build your dream team. Management types will love Master League and Challenge mode, for dealing with matters off the pitch, while Become a Legend is a deep, single-player career mode.

There's not much to complain about this year. There were a few issues in matchmaking online, but more often than not it works fine. Fans of Real Madrid won't be able to see that logo on the jerseys because of a licensing dispute with FIFA, so instead you'll see "MD White." Goalkeeper artificial intelligence isn't the best, but it's passable (such as letting no-brainer saves squeak past the goalie). Menu screens aren't as slick as their competitors', either. But overall, this is a stellar soccer sim that bests its predecessor. If you didn't buy last year's game, picking up PES 2018 is a no-brainer for fans of the series. If you invested in last year's version, there's less of a reason to shell out the cash for the new disc or download, but it's still the best in the series to date.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how the game compares to real soccer games. Are kids and their friends able to replicate some of the feats they see in games?

  • Discuss whether athletes are good role models. Does the player on-screen live a life you'd want to emulate? Why, or why not?

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