It is that time of the year again when the greatest sports rivalry in console sports begins again. I apologise to our American readers but we are talking football today and it isn’t Madden. I am of course talking about FIFA v PES. Whilst we still have a few weeks to wait for this year’s iteration of EA’s massive flagship. Konami is out of the gates first with PES 2019.
Now full disclosure here, even though I am a massive football fan I haven’t actually played a football game since Fifa 16. I went into PES 2019 completely unbiased and with an open mind and my word what a treat it was. There is so much packed into the game it is unreal.
My biggest complaint about football games on consoles is that they are repetitive. Playing a league seems to be more of a grind than a fun past time. Each game slowly but surely blends with the previous game with very little to differentiate them. That didn’t seem to be the case with PES 2019
First up let us discuss the multitude of game modes packed into the game. You have your usual single player cup and league modes that are the staple of any PES game but after that you also have:
Master League: A staple of the PES franchise the Master League is of course here again. For those that haven’t played Master League before the premise is simple. You start with a team of below average players and through determination, skill, tactical prowess and some good business in the transfer market you aim to take your team from the bottom of the second league to global domination.
Become a Legend: This is an interesting mode that has been a staple of PES for a few years but one I have never had the pleasure of playing. Playing as a single player trying to break into the team. This takes a completely different view of the game and plays so much differently. Rather than controlling whichever player on your team has the ball you can only control your player.
This approach to football means the focus is more on what you do off the ball rather than on it. Maintaining your position, adhering to the team tactics. This also means if your playing as a striker you have no choice but to look on crestfallen and impotent as your team lets in goals. The fact you have to hug just inside the halfway line waiting for the counter-attack means you can’t run into the box and defend.
Co-op mode: This mode is one I would have loved to have tried out as the idea really appeals to me but unfortunately during the time I had to carry out this review I didn’t have a chance to arrange it. Quite simply it is a 3v3 match and whilst you can use computer players it felt redundant to do so. This game mode is obviously designed for when you have the lads round. Playing it any over way seemed moot.
Online Divisions: Now we start getting to the online modes which is where PES 2019 really comes alive. Don’t get me wrong the offline modes are so numerous that you would be happy with that content at the full price. First of the Online modes is Online Divisions. Quite simply a 10 game seasons against other online players to really push your ability and test your skills.
Team Play Lobby: Team play lobby is a mental game mode. Honestly, it is nuts. 22 players take one player each. It can be a player you have developed yourself or one featured. Trying to play a game of tactics, possession and fluidity is mental when you have 22 people doing their own thing. Great for a laugh and a wonderful addition to the game overall.
What’s On: This isn’t so much a game mode but a portal for online timed competitions such has ranked matches and cups. With some new competition always starting there is a great sense of variety here. I certainly feel that this may help keep the game fresh over the next few months.
myClub: Of course myClub has returned. This like FIFA Ultimate Team is probably a massive cash cow for Konami. The concept is brilliant and more suited to the armchair tactical football fans than the arcade players. Whilst you do still have to play the game and control your team. This mode is for the hardcore players. You start with your team and earn points and coins to sign new players on short contracts. Such as Counthino for 5 games or David Beckham for 10 games. Alternatively, you can buy coins via microtransactions to help you progress.
myClub really is the heart and soul of PES 2019 and this will be the big draw for most players. The fact that there are a ton of other modes could quite possibly be a bonus that gets ignored.
As I mentioned at the beginning of this review, PES 2019 is the first time I have played a football game in 3 years. I was very impressed by the number of game modes on offer and the variety amongst them. Graphically the game is great. Not stunning but great. Controls within the game can sometimes feel a little unresponsive but maybe that was just me being rusty.
I do feel the explanation of some things could be clearer. It is as if the original language wasn’t English at times and it has been localised. That been said however Pro Evo 2019 was a joy to play and really surprised me.
Fifa 19 definitely has its work cut out for it when it launches next month.
Overall Score: 7/10