Second is the physics. The entire game hinges on the game's new collision system, and it produces moments of beauty, horror and heartbreak. A penalty taken against my housemate in the 89th minute of a tense 1-1 match caused arguments when the ball struck a goalkeepers elbow and bounced up into the net for a game-winning goal. "This wouldn't have happened if we'd played FIFA
" he said, gloomily.
The collision system makes the game feel, if not realistic, at least authentic. The game uses Konami's Fox engine, which most recently was helping Snake paste bad guys in Metal Gear Solid V, and here lends an impressive physicality to each match in addition to a dynamic weather system that can change pitch conditions drastically during a match. Words like collision system, dynamic weather and authenticity might not set the world on fire, but it means tackles and challenges are no longer simple affair: the way the players on the pitch pivot, stride and inevitably tumble is riveting, and when a freezing downpour emerges to soak the pitch and change the way the ball and players behave, it devolves into complete chaos.
Rounding off this trifecta and tying it all together is the graphics engine and animations, which I've grouped together for your convenience. Konami claims to have included three times as many animations in this latest release, and the end result is that every moment looks silky smooth on the pitch. With tackles now coming in thick and fast from a variety of angles and players able to spin rapidly on the spot, the animation system has to be top notch to avoid looking silly, and thankfully i'm happy to report there's been no Red Dead Redemption
-esque glitches, or really anything out of the ordinary, besides some truly hilarious tackles.
There're a few flaws here, amongst the diamonds. Those tackles I mention above are incredibly violent, with you able to get away with the most brutal tackle as long as your foot touches the ball first. Likewise, if you don't touch the ball first it's an instant foul and often a yellow card too.
The player models somehow manage to look like robotic automatons too. any time you have to look closely at a character or they're brightly lit then you'll see their soft expressionless faces and their cold dead eyes.
There's some other nice improvements around the place too - Master League has been redesigned and is now a semi-comprehensive management sim that let me bolster my beloved East London with some European talent, and there's a range of tournaments from domestic to international if you want to indulge in something with a little more structure than standard exhibition matches or online contests.
It feels like the complete package then, but it does have the limitation that it's 'just' a football game, so take this 90% with a caveat: if you love football it's a must buy, if you hate football, well, I'd probably still have a go at the demo. You never know, it might just win you over.