Top critical review
PES Veteran Tuppence Worth
10 September 2018
EDITED COMMENTS BELOW.
In brief, I’m a PES veteran and have played almost every incarnation since ISS. I haven’t bothered reviewing any version over the last few years as I feel, despite a few well known grumbles with gameplay, the series has evolved very strongly. I thought I would give PES 2019 a good run for its money before commenting, by playing a good chunk of time into a Master League Campaign.
First off, here are the positives.
i. The game looks great. Lighting and animation, and some ball movement (especially with elevation and curl) have been tweaked very nicely.
ii. Build up play can feel excellent. The gameplay can feel slower and more patient at times, and I think the difference between “full attack” and “full defence” is more amplified than in previous series. You really notice the difference when the opposition goes at you full throttle and there are opportunities to counter attack.
iii. Set plays are ‘easier’ in terms of having more curl available on the ball. Things like deep corners and vicious in-swingers are more readily deployed, though it takes a bit of finesse to get them accurate on your target area.
iv. Powerful controlled finishes are more accurate. Maye it’s my lack of skill, but in the past years it was always too easy to hammer the ball over the bar from 10 yards. Controlled finishing was always better (and still is very good) but now there’s a satisfaction of having a decent striker smash the roof of the net with real power, and not cause any alarm to air traffic control.
v. Some jostling is “less likely” to give a foul, which is great, but it can feel a little random in terms of result (which might reflect reality I suppose) but see other points below for more on that.
vi. Finally, and key for me, the variety of leagues and licensed teams available are fantastic. I know it’ll never touch FIFA, and we still need an option file for EPL and Spain etc, BUT it’s a really good effort and lots of fun to explore the smaller leagues of world football. There’s much more to the heart and soul of football than simply over feeding and pandering to the big European leagues (are you listening UEFA? CHAMPIONS LEAGUE??)
Now some improvement areas for Konami to listen to. I hope they do listen to me..
1. Bugbear of mine for years, and probably you too – too often when attacking, you are subjected to a “perfect tackle” (only when playing vs the CPU), and very rarely are fouls given in your favour. It is possible to use skill moves to get past defenders, but even with good players using learned skills, average defenders win the ball the majority of the time. Could be more balanced. It grates a bit when you know you’ve executed a perfect scissors feint and double tapped the speed, only to be sent flying and watch James Collins sprint off with the ball tied to his feet (sorry James).
EDIT. Perfect tackling extends to almost any player in the opposition. And frequently it's a real lunge with raised studs which goes unpunished.
2. New for this year – it’s very hard to win a defensive header, even with height advantage and position advantage!?! I’ve found jostling to the front of the attacking player allows you a better chance to get the header away, and the players do seem to have a better ability to “stretch” from this position to make a clearance, however it needs timed right, and it would be nice of Konami to address this and allow 6ft4 centre backs to jump better than a 5ft 10 striker, indeed even if they jump at all!
EDIT. I've found you can use super cancel to move in front but very hard to get the right position. When approaching from behind your defender becomes "locked on" to the forward and despite repeated button presses, will not jump. Infuriating.
3. Last couple of years I’ve gone mental about the number of blocked shots inside the box from tackles at absurd angles and distances, and this seems to have been reduced, however blocked passes seem to be easier to suffer from. I’ve tried to look at this when changing tactics and formation, and so far haven’t concluded it’s my fault for setting out the wrong shape. It’s pretty constant.
4. Disproportionate fouls. We all know it’s there. Come on Konami. A bit of balance to allow us to perform the same barges and ball winning moves and not get booked? Hmmm?
5. CPU shooting accuracy. One shot, one goal, no fouls. How many games does this happen?!? I’d love to see the CPU wind up and hammer it out the stadium more often. Or miss a sitter, or NOT get a rebound goal.
6. In Master League – some news from around the planet would be good, even basic facts like some team gaining a lead at the top of a table, or a player refusing to renew a contract. How much would it take to mock up a highlight of a winning goal in an important match, or an image of a player who is on top form and playing great.
And finally, the real problem areas that have stood out for me. These need fixed, as at times it just ruins the realism of playing the game (if that’s not a self-contradictory statement)
a. Intercepting speed of slow CB v fast players. This analogy has been used before, and I’ll happily plagiarise it: Imagine, Eden Hazard takes the ball from a perfect 1-2, on the run, past Per Mertesacker (sorry Per). Hazard is already doing 20mph, and “Das Deutsche Tree” is facing the wrong way. We all know how that pans out in real life. Hazard is miles away and get a shot on goal. But in PES, this year, Mertesacker starts to gallop at twice the speed of Hazard, and a few seconds later has positioned himself between the Chelsea pocket rocket and Petr Cech’s helmet. I can work around the headers, and put up with the perfect challenges, but over-amped speed on slow players is illusion-shattering nonsense. It needs fixed, urgently.
EDIT. This is now ludicrous. Everyone irrespective of ability is significantly quicker off the mark than even the fastest players in my team. All of the time. Most long passes fail. Most dribbles fail. Many short passes are simply picked off too. And forget about deflections and saves. You are ALWAYS second to the ball. Turning, accelerating, reacting in any way - players players are running in tar all the time. It's soooo frustrating.
b. Strange one this. When taking long Free kicks, my CBs are set to attack up in the opposition box. When the ball is in flight, and about to be knocked back into the box by one of my guys, all of the defenders start to run back to my own goal! By the time the ball has landed on the penalty spot, none of them are in the box. They’re all facing the wrong way, running in the wrong direction! It completely over-rides the direct instruction for the long free kick and makes a mockery of the set piece. Have yet to work that one out, but I can’t see anything I’m doing wrong, and it makes promising attacking situation a bit hopeless.
c. Finally, last but really not least. Player skin tones. Really? Come on Konami. How much effort would it really be to even double the feeble selection available. The world is a large place with an infinite selection of marvellous skin colours, and you give us, what (5? 6?). It’s pretty underwhelming.
So far I’m happy with the game. Initially I wasn’t sure if I’d just pack it in and go back to PES2018 for another year, such are the bad points above, but perseverance has shown me there is still enough reward with the challenge to keep going. Tactics and positioning are still key to the game. Recycle the ball back, play it out of defence. Play a long ball and use the target man. Play Tiki Taka. It all works if you play to player’s strengths.
EDIT. I have persevered and in general discovered that tactical changes can make a big difference to the result, however the build up play is generally the same no matter what. They will attack you down the wings and your defenders will act like drunken students in the penalty box. When you attack you will find no space but for playing some 1-2s and these short passes through the middle are about 9o% of my goals so far.
I played Madrid v Livingston on easy setting. I won 6-1. Livingston had nearly 60% possession and were faster to very ball, had 50% more passes than me and dribbled and knocked the ball round like Brazil 70. What's the point? OVERALL THIS IS ME DROPPING A STAR AS THE GAME HAS BECOME VERY REPETITIVE AND A REAL CHORE TO PLAY THROUGH.
And just for fun to finish off - losing the Champions League was a blow, I was disappointed, but really it just made me hate EA even more. FIFA's presentation has always been far superior to PES, with a suitably grander advertising campaign to boot, but PES has always had the edge when it comes to the action on the pitch. This year, I think (And it pains me today it) that PES has taken a step back in terms of the action on the pitch. I just took a shot of PES 2018 again and I feel it's far better to play than 2019. Graphically inferior, but better gameplay. And I'm sorry Konami but that's what I enjoy.
I'm also going to try Fifa his year. Fair's fair.
Tuppence worth finished.