The beautiful game is back.
If you don’t care too much about licences and looks or are willing to put the work in, then Pro Evolution Soccer 2017 may have finally regained top spot in the battle of the football juggernauts.
For years EA Sports and Konami have vied for the attention of gamers the world over with their respective FIFA and PES franchises.
You know the history, FIFA was unrivalled on the first consoles even if the likes of Sensible Soccer did offer a fun alternative experience.
Then along came PES - or Pro Evo as it is also referred to - in 2001 to shake things up completely.
It reigned supreme until 2006 but lost it’s way while EA slowly but surely improved FIFA and surpassed PES to rule for the next decade.
This season, though, after years of fans wondering whether PES could ever realistically challenge for the title again, it seems we have our closest battle yet.
While it is difficult to draw any conclusions until FIFA is released at the end of the month, we do know it has an impressive rival to beat.
This year, like a Pep Guardiola pre-season training camp, Konami has put in the hard yards to make this the best entry in the series bar none, eclipsing the brilliant PES6.
Graphically PES17 looks sharp although you don’t really appreciate just how improved the game is aesthetically until you see an up-close replay.
The commentary team is instantly recognisable from the Champions League and adds to the overall atmosphere.
The most crucial aspect, though, is the gameplay and Konami has managed to refine the controls with every pass, tackle, shot, dribble and trick feeling better than ever.
It is a dream to play and really sets the bar high in terms of playability and control.
With an expansive edit mode, the most dedicated can take time to design or import the correct kits and squad data - yes Manchester United are still Man Red due to licensing.
In truth what this PES lacks in gloss and licensing it more than makes up for by returning to the standards which made it the real beautiful game.
Now it’s over to FIFA to see if EA can see off the renewed challenge. RATING: 9/10