PES 2020 review

The yearly arguement between FIFA and PES fans is about to reignite, leaving a few of us thinking…can we not appreciate both?

I’ve flirted with both games over the last 15 years. Pro Evo was on top, for sure, during the mid-2000s, whilst FIFA embraced the Xbox and PS3 consoles with surprising quality.

Both games are naturally pitted against each other every year, and both are considered kings by critics of all persuasions. Picking up PES 2020 – for my first spin on a PES game since those glory days back in the 2000s – and it’s clear Konami has upped its game in terms of in-depth game modes, game play and realism. Moreover if to take a look at eSports tournaments in 2020, more British punters prefer creating an account at a betting site not on Gamstop and with PES football matches.

The Master League is on another level. Cut scenes, real scanned-in managers to choose from like Jordi Cruyff and Deigo Maradona (hilariously managing Sheffield Blue and Whites), and hugely in-depth management of your team which includes information on how your team responds once a player is dropped/picked, how a new signing impacts the squad morale and the ability to focus training sessions to mould players into the position you require.

The gameplay, whilst feeling slightly sluggish, feels much more free. Knock the ball between your defensive line and you could easily zone out and think you were watching a Premier League game on Sky Sports. Off the ball, the pitch feels huge – you simply can’t just run after the opponents anymore. As the game goes on, tactics and formations change and evolve. Hell, even the lighting in the stadium changes depending on where the sun is shining.

Those touches of realism really do make it an enjoyable play, if not yet a completely polished game. But we don’t play PES for that, do we? We play it for that random starting squad in Master League season 1, the eclectic soundtrack (Johnny Marr alongside European classical) and to have a laugh. One complaint – the likes of Castolo, Espinas and Miranda are absent. Old school PES players will know…

Elsewhere, myClub enters its sixth year as Konami’s take on FIFA Ultimate Team offering players the chance to can build a highly competitive online team without needing a huge wad of cash.

All in all, despite some moments during the game where the AI decides to forget its playing a game of footy, this is a thoroughly enjoyable game. Just one thing though, Goios is a decent striker, but for the love of god, please bring back Castolo for the PlayStation generation, will you?

PES 2020 is out now on PS4 and Xbox One.

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