Playing and then ultimately reviewing this game was an absolute rollercoaster ride for me. Initially, I hated it. That was replaced with really loving it, being frustrated, overjoyed then settling into a quiet appreciation. The game is by no means perfect and if I’m honest, feels a little underdone. The name change also makes me feel personally attacked but overall, it’s a solid game that I would just make a couple of changes to.
First of all, the gameplay is solid, and I mean really solid. The movement feels great, the ball mechanics are superb, and the skills are sublime. It’s certainly not as easy to master as previous years but when you’re on, you’re on. The game feels a lot less fast paced than previous iterations, but it feels more realistic, albeit somewhat clunky at times. It really is an enigma of a game because at times it’s so damned perfect and others, seriously flawed. It’s quite hard to explain in words. What I will say is that tactics are incredibly important and having the wrong set-up or the wrong player in a position will seriously undermine your ability to win a game. Scoring goals appears to be far less easy than even last year, or perhaps I’ve gotten so bad at vidya games that I just can’t figure out how to do it. It does feel far more satisfying hitting the back of the net, considering that most of my shots are just wide or are saved by the ninja keeper.
The most beautiful sight in the world
A part of PES20 that is absolutely superb and deserves its own small paragraph is the ball movement. Never before has something so small made such a huge difference to a game, but this is it. The ball is so nicely designed that the effect it has on the game is outstanding.
Beating a player one-on-one is a real challenge and at times seems near impossible. My style evolved from running at a player, potentially beating him or passing off at the last minute to a far slower, more structured attacking game. Timing a pass exactly right opens up the gap and it’s far more important to build, getting closer and closer until something opens up. It just feels so much more realistic, but it is frustrating. Speaking of frustrating, there are some inherent issues with the defending in PES20 where a player will, at times, just stand there and refuse to chase the ball. I thought perhaps it was just a glitch on my end, but friends experienced the same thing. A lot of the gameplay has these inconsistencies that aren’t always present but are almost game breaking when they are.
Visually, this game is the best they’ve created. It’s quite clear a lot of time and effort has gone into the way the game looks and how players appear and movement on the ball. The crowds are fantastic and change their volume at different parts of a match. It’s a small detail that makes the world of difference to how realistic the game appears. Musically, this game is once again solid. A really nice mix of chilled out beats and upbeat jams that complement the feel of the game nicely. Once again, the commentary is bad, I mean, it’s just really bad. Sometimes the commentator will just yell out random things and quite loudly, it’s off-putting to say the least.
All the usual game modes return with some notable upgrades to Master League, the flagship mode of the PES franchise. The biggest and best upgrade to note is the transfer system. Those unfamiliar with the franchise won’t notice too much of an improvement here but the increased realism displayed by players when making decisions adds to the realism of the overall game and make ML even better. Be A Legend and My Club don’t appear to have too many ground-breaking changes but they are just as solid as they’ve always been and will give players hours’ worth of different types of play
Still a beast
Ultimately, I’m not sure this is the best PES I’ve played but that may be because the improvements from last year seem less significant than previous years’ and the impact it had on me was lessened. It’s still a fantastic game that endeavours to improve on its predecessors and innovation is a slow process when, at the end of the day, there’s only so much you can do with a game about a sport. The glitches and issues with PES20 have certainly reduced the overall score of what is an otherwise great game that will bring hours of joy to those that enjoy football simulators.
…and it’s still better than FIFA
Reviewed on PS4 // Review code supplied by publisher