Sunday 18 February 2018

Pro Evolution Soccer 2018 review: Once more unto the pitch, dear friends

Pro Evolution Soccer 2018 (PS4/XO/PC) ★★★★★ Age: 7+

Pro Evolution Soccer 2018
Pro Evolution Soccer 2018
Ronan Price

Ronan Price

Perhaps you're as bored of reading reviews of annually updated football games as I am of writing them. Almost two decades at the job has made me cynical, of course, but there simply is no need for the yearly cycle in which developers struggle to differentiate the newest offering from the last.

PES 2018 might as well be badged 2017.5 for all that the casual player might notice. It's not as if PES didn't already deliver a deeply satisfying version of virtual football, one that jostles for supremacy with big rival FIFA. But little progress is evident is the franchise's weak areas of team licensing, TV-style presentation and the pedestrian commentary.

Quite rightly, none of that really matters to purists - though they may look askance at the tinkering around the edges in terms of gameplay. On the pitch, players display increased personality and do seem to respond slightly more believably with their first touch. On the other hand, they also run fractionally more slowly and goalkeepers now have a habit of calamitous errors in the least threatening situations.

Let's be clear, nonetheless, PES proves hugely entertaining and, to my mind, remains the scrappy but honest winner in the perennial contest with FIFA. Tune in next week for the FIFA 18 review, in which the glitz and glamour returns for another season.


(PS4/XO/PC) ★★★★ Age: 18+

This cyberpunk horror couldn't be any more of an homage to Blade Runner if it had Rutger Hauer in it. Except it does have Rutger Hauer, in the title role of a detective looking for his missing son in a joyless futuristic version of a Polish apartment complex.

Observer plays with your perceptions and toys with Hauer's character as he jacks into dying people's minds, telepathically scans crime scenes for evidence and wades through the physical and mental debris of a dystopian society.

Grimly fascinating and visually startling, Observer oversteps the mark when it edges into monster horror. But its unsettling depiction of a decaying future leaves a powerful imprint on the memory.

Don't Knock Twice

(PS4/PC) ★★★ Age: 18+

Horror fits the VR genre snugly, the immersion doubling the dread and exploiting the sense something could actually be behind you. Don't Knock Twice works without VR, but it's the lesser experience for it, its haunted-house schtick exposed as cheap tricks in which a mother is taunted by her estranged daughter.

DKT makes the most of its eerie audio and visuals but it lacks the narrative and gameplay punch of the likes of Resident Evil 7, with a formulaic and overfamiliar approach to scare tactics.

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