The commentary isn’t bad, but the script is absolutely awful. So, so bad! The licensed music is okay, much better than the terrible 'Football, Soccer' song from PES 2008, and the crowds sound… okay.
The animations are impressive, as are the stadiums, the crowds and a lot of the players… Some likenesses are absolutely diabolical though.
Aside from the floaty shooting (which isn’t awful, it’s just not very dramatic or alluring), the weird selection algorithm and inconsistent refs, PES 2020 is absolutely top notch.
Three strong main pillars with some weird design choices peppered throughout, and a whole host of smaller modes that you’ll play once and never again.
It’s another boring copy and paste job, folks! Yay…
September 19, 2019
There was a time in my life where I would just play PES. I’d wake up, play PES. Have a break for lunch, play PES. Order in food, play PES. Heck, I’d even go to bed and dream of PES. It was a simple life. It was a life where I lived and breathed PES. I wasn’t alone in this. Our circle of friends would hold drafts, build Master League teams and then face off against each other. It was a wonderful time. It was also a time where I should have been studying for my degree, but come on, how is a degree in the real world going to give me bragging rights over my mates? It wasn’t.
Times have changed though, and I’ve not played a PES game in forever, so when the mantle was thrust upon me this time around to review PES, I morphed into my former self, living and breathing the football game that now has the worst title of any sports game known to man: eFootball PES 2020.
PES on the pitch has always delivered, keeping it relevant in an era that FIFA has seemingly dominated, and PES 2020 is no different. The context-sensitive kicking definitely adds a more realistic element to the game and PES 2020 seems to retain Pro Evo’s trademark fluidity on the pitch. Is it the best PES we’ve seen on the pitch, though? Perhaps not. The game’s new shooting system seems somewhat ‘floaty’ in nature. What I mean by that is, if you truly smack a ball, it doesn’t fly off the foot like it would in real-life. And because of that, they’ve also made the keepers a little bit naff. I can tickle a ball from the edge of the box and the keeper will leap as if I’d just hit a worldy… I had not. More of a gripe than a major issue, but there we have it.
One of the biggest issues I have with PES on the field is the player selection, which seems to be worse than it's ever been. Over the years, moaning about the player selection is a PES ritual. This year, however, it genuinely does feel a touch broken at times. Not being able to select the player closest to the ball sometimes feels like a massive mistake on Konami’s part. We’re not sure of the algorithm that Konami has opted for this time around, but something just doesn’t sit right. And don’t get me started on the refs, who blow up if you stroke your opponent with a feather, but don’t if you get full-on bodied in the area. It’s madness I tell you.
Yet, on the pitch, PES 2020 is as solid as it always has been. Not the best, no, but it’s a solid effort from the Japanese devs, and as ever, it’s a joy to play. Not that the still-god-awful commentary helps, of course… and by that we mean more the script than the delivery. What is it going to take to get Konami to get this right for once? Marauding run, my ass! Who even says that?! My new favourite awful line, though, has to be the “keep calm and carry on” line… Come on Jim, come on Peter, instead of just picking up that pay cheque, how about telling Konami you’d never actually say these bloody things when commenting for real!?
Off the field, meanwhile, PES 2020 is a little all over the place. Yes, there’s a ton of content to keep players happy, with three massive modes in the obligatory Master League, the FUT wannabe MyClub, and the weirdly boring but still super addictive Become A Legend. Compared to its rival in the genre, it’s still light years behind.
Each of the main modes, while functional and enjoyable due to the action on the pitch, are hampered by some really annoying bugbears. For starters, if you build an amazing team in MyClub, the wages for your team almost become untenable without either putting in some cash or sim-boosting with a 1-star team. Something similar can be said of the Master League, which has you fighting the wage budget, especially if you start with an old school PES team, which you almost have to. It’s a rite of passage for all PES players.
And then finally, while there’s nothing technically wrong with the Become A Legend mode, it’s just a little barebones. While FIFA has previously delivered cinematic football stories in The Journey, you’re controlling one player in what effectively is a Master League-lite mode. Other than the three pillars, there’s your usual abundance of online and offline modes, but chances are the lion’s share of your time will be spent building your super teams in either Master League or MyClub and taking on the rest of the world or, more likely, Steve down the road.
The awful new title aside, the new PES – or Pro Evolution Soccer as it will still always be in my heart – is actually rather good, but as PES has taught me over the years: some things never change. The commentary is still terrible; the depth and balance of the three main modes is lacking on the whole; and their presentation, while getting better, is still miles behind FIFA. But on the pitch, where it matters, Konami has once again delivered a fine footballing experience.