The new football season is in full swing and with the turn of the year, some footballing aspects stay the same. Man United being dull, Arsenal and Everton have worse defences than ever and it looks like Man City and Liverpool will duke it out for the title again. Thankfully it seems that PES and FIFA think differently with their annual installments on their takes on the beautiful game. First up is the challenger PES 2020 AKA Konami’s reminder that they make games.
So, let’s look at gameplay first as this is the main selling point for me as it’s as good as, if not better than FIFA. As the PES Dev team has worked closely with renowned Midfield maestro and the only person in the world with a more receding hairline than Darren Box — Andreas Iniesta (Editor’s note: Cheers Matt, I’ll remember this one.) This has brought in new features such as Finesse Dribbling to help outfox the defenders. Tweaked “Trapping” mechanics, context-sensitive kick accuracy where your posture position and how much pressure you’re under will affect how a potential 40-yard screamer will pan out.
PES 2020 also includes improved ball physics, and players who will react differently to who’s on the ball. So, if you have someone like Jadon Sancho on the ball, players will spread out to give him space to run into, or if you have someone lie Toni Kroos then they will try and make runs in which to take advantage of his passing ability. PES added realistic movements and has looked into how Ronaldinho played and added some of his unique animations like back and chest control and his flair into the game, which is nice.. I guess?
Which all this comes together, it is a brilliant blast and it’s tricky and incredibly detailed to how the beautiful game is played. With an AI that will adapt and change to the way you play and can be a cheating bastard and dive in the penalty area at times (true story and you can also pull this off as well). It’s pretty much applaudable in how much detail PES will go from the tactics on the pitch itself and how players perform and how everyone will react makes an engrossing experience that makes all of the goals from your 40-yard screamer into the top corner to a simple cross and tap in equally enjoyable and addictive.
Then we come to the game modes which for the record isn’t that much changed from last years, although Master League has gone through changes. There is a new transfer system so to reflect the real world. High 8 to 9 figure sums will be very common as you bolster your squad, and will be much more customizable than the previous years’ instalments so it’s an ever-changing world and not a horrific episode of Hoarders. New recruits will have to work alongside the dusty Skeleton of Gianluigi Buffon and the rest of the team looking like a rabid Robinson Crusoe hoping for freedom at Man Blue, so players will come and go whether you like it or not.
There are supposedly better manager models which are fairly true, but sadly it’s thrown out the customization for the managers themselves, which is a pisser when most of them look like extras in an episode of Eastenders or something. One thing that’s rather barmy is that you can also play as some real-world managers like Johan Cruyff, Zico and Diego Maradona. You can add your very own sponsor logos which is neat, but is still the same Master League that I fell in love with and with cinematics as well and impromptu Press conferences with dialogue trees which is nice but could have been fleshed out much more.
Newly introduced is Matchday Mode which plays a lot like the Splatoon 2 mode, allowing players to pick a side of their favourite sauces. In this mode, players can join two different sides and play online against the opposition online which feels more filler than engaging to be honest and add not much to the pot.
Now we come to the Achilles heel of the PES series – Licences, which is where most people judge both PES and its counterpart and superior FIFA to which has a monopoly on them. This hasn’t stopped PES at all by getting hold of Juventus to the extent where FIFA 20 is having a made-up Juventus version. Bayern Munchen are on a similar level to the relationship that Barcelona has with PES. Which as mentioned in my PES 2020 Demo article fairly recently. I’m not sure it the right way to go for the series. Cherry-picking clubs like Juventus while admirable is almost petty like, and maybe focusing on the leagues more by getting what FIFA has done with the Premier League with all the stadiums and broadcast graphics. One moment of praise that I have is that the silly names of yesteryear where Watford was named as Hertfordshire and South Norwood were Crystal Palace is gone, while the logos are identical from last year. Enough has been done so it much easier to work out whos who.
Visually it’s stunning, from almost stupidly detailed player tunnels to stepping out into the stadium and just taking in the atmosphere is a surreal experience, thanks to an improved lighting engine and turf rendering. The players have gone through full 3D scans as well with exceptional detail right to the tats that the players have and how they move. The sound design is also brilliant giving its licenced clubs, such as every time that Juventus scores at home The Fratellis – Chelsea Dagger plays, and when Barcelona walks out onto the Nou Camp that their anthem plays out loud. It’s almost like you’re there on your sofa pitchside. One complaint I will say is that the commentary is shite. It sounds like 2 audioboards speaking to each other rather than actual human beings which do kill my immersion stiffy somewhat. While i’ll happily mock Martin Tyler for shouting “AND ITS LIVE!!!!!” every time a match is played in FIFA at least it more human than the 2 soundboards in PES talking.
Technically is solid as a rock with a steady framerate and online servers which are a bit lacklustre and dodgy and rather laggy and unresponsive in-game. Which is a shame where the gameplay is very good.
So the Verdict – PES 2020 presents a very strong case for this year’s title against FIFA with exceptional gameplay with its tweaks included. Visually stunning graphics and audio and it brings the beautiful game to life. While the tweaks to Master League has helped make it a more authentic experience when it comes to transfers. Areas like commentary and the dreaded Licences can be a huge turn-off, and online not as good as its own counterpart is a bit of a pisser on what is a very enjoyable football game.
PES 2020 is a very good game with its exceptional gameplay and audio and visuals that bring the beautiful game to life. While there are tweaks here and there mainly with Master League which are for the better. The rest is rather outdated with its terrible commentary, and while its made an effort with new licences and nicking Juventus from right under EAs nose is admirable and changing the silly made-up names for more sensible ones is a welcome move. It’s a small victory than a killer blow.
- Brilliant challenging gameplay
- Audio and visuals top-notch
- Tweaked and improved Master League
- Online a bit flimsy and wonky
- Robotic Commentary