There was a time during my time with her that I knew that the old PES sparkle was back, and it was not a sumptuous strike or smooth piece build-up play. It was not a block or goalmouth scramble exciting. It was a near miss.

Imagine the scene: it is a pulsating Serie A match between Juventus and Roma, played in the spotlight on a dark winter evening. The game is enticingly ready to play. Arturo Vidal jabs his boot before resuming possession just inside his own camp, and plays a simple square ball to Andrea Pirlo. He chips forward: it is a classic shot Pirlo corner to lanky frontman Fernando Llorente. It is Pirlo, so the ball is almost perfect; Llorente backup, watching his opponent, who climbs unexpectedly early and nearly gets his head first. Carlos Tevez anticipates the loose ball, automatically backing up slightly to receive it as it falls. It is about 35 yards, and I look at the radar to see some opposition goalkeeper farther from the line. Tevez chests down, and it sits beautifully on the bounce.

I can not resist, and press the square button, releasing just before the gauge reaches full power. The ball trajectory takes quite high, but Tevez hit with topspin. The guard, of course not expect a shot of the range, backpedals desperately towards his goal as he descends. He stretches his fingers, even though he knows he approaches the ball. Yet he is lucky: he falls just over the crossbar, grazing on the way forward rolls on the top of the net. The fans held their head in their hands and I follow suit.

I can not remember the last time I liked not score in a football game quite as much as that. PES 2015 can be a little stiff in places, but I have not experienced anything close to this moment with EA Sports equivalent, FIFA 15. This year, “the land is ours” is the mantra of developer Konami. This year, the field is accurate.

First, we’ll highlight the area where PES compares very favorably to its biggest rival. It is no exaggeration to say that artificial intelligence here is some of the nicest I have met in any sports simulation. The fact that it will go unnoticed by some is perhaps the greatest compliment you can pay; perhaps it is more clearly perceptible to me because of its apparent lack of FIFA. Here, the wing-backs appear to overlap; midfielders fall when possession is lost; supporters come out to play strikers offside; sprint guardians of their boxes to clear lofted shot just before the center of opposition before it can lash goalward. Errors occur, but are rare and most often attributed to your own mistakes. It is important because it means that every time you lose the ball every time you concede a goal, it’s hard to blame anyone but yourself.

You will not see the intelligence in your own teammates, either. If a full return is booked, you can bet a smart opponent will try to exploit this reservation, focusing their outputs down that side of the field. If you have a slow center-back pairing, then you will see many attempts to play Pacy strikers behind you, either by sliding rule by bulletproof or high passes aimed into space. You will need to identify not only the strengths and weaknesses of your opponent, but your own, fill holes, and changing your offensive style.

There are no means an infallible to win, and while there are some soft spots (corner struck with just above average power in this corridor of uncertainty between goalkeeper and defense was a source of goals for myself reliable enough), you rarely able to count on the same tactic twice. Opponents seem to fit too: after scoring from two, against the attacks as fast direct Real Madrid, Liverpool managed to cut the supply of Cristiano Ronaldo online, and it took a last-minute strike deflected Scrappy before he won the match point.

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