PES 2019 review
Its that time of year again when gamers all over the world throw their money at one of the two big football games, FIFA and Pro Evolution Soccer (PES) and who knows, our PES 2019 review might help you decide which one to get.
Over the last couple of years I have become a big FIFA fan and Pro Evo hasn’t really been thought about much, however after playing this years demo I was pleasantly surprised by not only how it looks but how smooth it plays. Could this be the year Pro Evo rises like a phoenix to retake the footballing crown?
In terms of gameplay, PES is incredibly smooth and responsive. The physics of passing, shooting and even the physicality of players feels just right. Players jostle and fight for the ball, with no-one really feeling overpowered but still remaining true to their strengths.
The ball is heavy and moves like you would expect it too with some unexpected physics thrown in for that unpredictability that its rival doesn’t have (did someone say scripting?). Players take touches off different parts of their body to control the ball, not just one part of their foot but chest, head, knee and heel.
Attacking takes time to get used to, after years of FIFA and being able to ping pong pass or dribble round a full team at ease, PES isn’t like this and will reward you for building up play and creating the openings in a variety of ways. When it all comes together, it is instantly more satisfying, especially on the higher levels where the AI defence can seem almost impossible to penetrate.
Players make intelligent runs and space out well to receive the ball, however don’t expect every pass or break through to reach your player. This is where the skill and learning curve comes in, and the patience of real football takes over.
On the flip side, when defending it’s not as responsive as I’d like and again comparing it to its rival it doesn’t have the same level of control in terms of jockeying and closing distance. Its a simple hold A to press or double tap A to try to standing tackle, which is really 50/50 in terms of winning the ball and committing a foul. Sliding tackles feel like an assault for the majority of times, with players flying through the air after a slide tackle at force. It’s satisfying if on a player or team you don’t like, but will always end up in a yellow or red card even when cleanly playing the ball.
Again on higher difficulties you really have to have a high level to press the AI and win the ball back, which doesn’t happen often to be honest. Pressing X allows you to have a team mate press the ball and you to control and secondary player to cover where the pass is potentially going to, which almost always reaches its target no matter what.
Something I noticed is that the majority of AI teams have one attacking plan, get the ball wide and put low crosses into the box. This happens several times per game and in a few instances I have had players 1 on 1 with my goalkeeper pause then play the ball out wide in order to receive the ball a few yards later in the box they were already heading into. Pretty unrealistic. Hopefully Konami will listen to its community and patch this issue as it is potentially game breaking.
The game looks amazing graphically, especially when playing in one of the licensed stadiums and the intro shows an overhead shot then the players waiting in the tunnel to come out. Here also you get a close up glimpse of player likeness, which PES does better than FIFA in my opinion.
In terms of licences this is what ultimately will always let PES down and stop it from reaching the heights it really should. Recognisable players are there and have fantastic face models. However when the likes of Paul Pogba or Sergio Aguero look amazing, their Man Red and Man Blue kits let them down, especially since neither was red or blue before editing them!
Luckily, on the PC and Playstation this isn’t really an issue due to content creators making option files. These have updates to squads, faces, correct kits, correct team names, new teams, new boots and balls. Fantastic eh? Well not if you’re playing this on the Xbox like I am. Is there a genuine reason for this? Or just Microsoft being difficult as usual.
If this isn’t possible then Konami could take a look at 2K’s WWE games for a work around. They offer a dedicated created content section for the community to upload creations too and other to download and add to their games. I would imagine there is licensing issues with this also.
As a Celtic fan, I was delighted to hear the SPFL was licensed in the game and also that Celtic were a partner club, meaning official kits, player faces and Celtic Park finally immortalised in a football game! Something that FIFA has been ignoring Scottish football fans about for years. It is disappointing however that the stadium isn’t available at release but will be rolled out out later in the year through a download. Three tweets to @officialpes later and they still haven’t clarified when this will be.
With Celtic being one of its partner clubs I was led to believe that all the players had head scans done, but only half of the team were recognisable at release with some other strange attempts. Hopefully this could also be rectified in an update. Again Xbox players are left behind in terms of data packs and option files available to download and update this compared to PC and Playstation.
There are several game modes to get your head around, from the ‘used to be fun’ Master League to My Club, which is Pro Evo’s equivalent to Ultimate Team if you like. Squad building games like this are fun, especially if you’re like me and like to grind to get better teams and find hidden gems along the way. It’s better than the quick fix of using real money to buy packs, or in PES’s case Top Agents Scouts. Confusing? Yes.
When you start, you mirror a real life club in terms of badge and kit, which is great if you want one of the partner clubs or a team from the licensed leagues. You get a choice of a couple of random managers with formations to suit your play style. Unfortunately these come at a price early on with some restrictions to the players you can pick for your squad. If you go over your ‘cost’ allocation your squad takes a hit on “team spirit” which makes your team play rubbish apparently.
This was a frustrating element early on for me especially having a bench full of bronze players ranging from 49-60 rated which weren’t going to change any game they came on to play in.
I am thoroughly enjoying playing this game, it is a welcome release from FIFA’s annoyances and in fact there is much more that PES does right than wrong in terms of a footballing experience. This is a real thinking man/woman’s game.
If you are able to ignore the licence issue (or just buy the game on Playstation or PC) then you will be rewarded.
Beautiful game with excellent player models, flowing and smooth footballing experience, which rewards hard work, skill and patience. My Club is fun, if a little confusing at first. Licences need sorted out and offer an alternative for XBOX players in particular. Master league is tired and worn without many updates over the years. AI having one plan and sticking to it even in strange positions (low crosses)
GOG rating 8/10
Reviewed by @steve2theizzO