Konami Unveils New PES 2014 Features
Pro Evolution Soccer 2014 was the first big-budget title discussed during Konami’s Pre-E3 event earlier today. Creative producer Kei Masuda (above) waxed excited about the key features that will define this year’s PES installment, which hopes to provide a stiffer challenge to EA’s dominant FIFA franchise (FIFA 13 sold more than 14.5 million copies in the 2013 fiscal year).
Chief among PES’ new innovations is the FOX engine, which has been adapted from Kojima Productions’ Metal Gear Solid series (Konami also teased Metal Gear Solid V: Phantom Pain during the presentation). The PES version of the engine is known as “Fluidity,” and it’s designed to “capture the true essence of football,” according to Masuda. In addition to supporting new, high-fidelity character models, FOX also underpins new TrueBall technology, which will give players total control over the ball, trapping and passing with the flick of a joystick.
Ball physics have been improved, along with player animations, which take into account “detailed barycentric physics” of their own. The new M.A.S.S. (Motion Animation Stability System) feature will govern player interactions and collisions, accounting for mass, strength, and speed.
The features described above will be familiar to FIFA fanatics, who can already take advantage of robust dribble controls and physics-based collisions. But Konami did have one ace up its sleeve: a new “Heart” system that will model player morale. Morale can be affected by playing poorly or conceding a goal, reducing a player’s efficacy and statistics. It can also be restored by the intervention of teammates, or even thanks to vocal support from a home crowd. Fan behavior is such a crucial part of soccer culture, and though FIFA has a few team-specific chants, it’s smart of the PES team to embrace this aspect of the beautiful game.
That said, I can’t see any of these improvements making a significant dent in FIFA’s burgeoning market share. It’s not even a game design problem at this point; as long as Electronic Arts maintains its stranglehold on all the most important team licenses, they’ll have the upper hand. An upgraded engine and a commitment to physics is certainly a smart move on PES’ part, though, and it will be interesting to see what else the Japanese giants have in store as the launch date approaches.