Pro Evolution Soccer 2019 Review PS4
key review info
- Game: Pro Evolution Soccer 2019
- Platform: Playstation 4
- Gamepad support: Yes
- Reviewed on:
- Show system requirements
The world is playing football, and the Americans are playing soccer. Now we can all play Pro Evolution Soccer 2019, which is arguably the best one in the series.
When games arrive in yearly installments, the differences are never going to be all that significant from one iteration to the other. And that was true for Pro Evolution Soccer, which was always marginally better than in the previous year. That all changed with the PES 2019, which vastly improves upon the recipe.
We also have to recognize that Pro Evolution Soccer has been living in the shadow of FIFA for quite some time. There was a time, maybe a decade ago, when the two franchises were sharing the first place and the community was always in contention about which one is the best.
While the two games have been drifting apart since then, the core gameplay can still be compared. And we can’t ignore the fact that FIFA 19 is also out and that everyone else is doing the same thing, meaning drawing comparisons between the two.
A much less social experience
FIFA took another path, and Electronic Arts is fighting to convince people to invest in microtransactions. PES 2019, on the other hand, is focused more on the actual gameplay, and that shows. To be fair, we have to compare it with the PES 2018 as well, since this is where we’ll see the most significant gap.
What I do love about the latest PES, and I really do mean love, is the fact that it’s not nagging me about online stuff, fantasy football, and so on. In FIFA, this particular aspect is more than annoying. In PES 2019 it’s all about the players and less about the company that's making the game, if you know what I mean.
Gameplay and visuals
If you played the previous PES, you already probably know that the graphics were never its strong suit. It’s still not, but at least the game has advanced sufficiently to not be an eyesore. The improvement is evident because of the yearly release cycle, which usually brings a small number of changes, in all departments, not only graphics.
This year, the developers chose to invest more time into the graphics, more so than usual, and it shows. It’s not just the increase in texture resolutions; it’s also the little things. Lots of small animations bring the players to life, giving them a much more natural feel.
In concert with the physics engine, which was also upgraded, the entire gameplay has been elevated to a new level. It’s enough to fuel the franchise and to keep the fan base, and maybe gain some new players in the process.
On the other hand, it’s not all roses. The UI for the entire game is atrocious, with the exception of the main menu, where it’s functional and clean. The rest looks like it’s trapped in the past, with terrible menus and a font that’s just wrong. Fortunately, most people are not going to spend a lot of time in the menus, unless they want to be a manager for a football team. In that case, they'll need to get used to the UI.
As for the gameplay itself, the most relevand improvement is the fact that it’s been slowed down considerably. For a long time, PES games were all about quick passes, but now it’s all about building the attack. Players can take their time, and everything happens at a much more manageable pace.
It helps that the physics governing the ball has been changed as well, and it’s now a little bit more unpredictable, just like the players on the field. It all sums up to more randomness, and that’s pretty much everything that you need from a football game.
Seasoned players know that the AI becomes predictable after a while, and even the solutions chosen by human players can be limited. The AI was improved as well, although it’s still possible to discern some patterns. For example, AI-controlled players don’t want to shoot from outside the box, which is a little bit weird, even if they have the chance.
The same AI is used for the referees, and that influences online games as well, against other people. Just like in the previous iterations, they seem to make more mistakes than in real life, which can be a little bit annoying.
The last thing I want to mention regarding the AI are the keepers. With very few exceptions, the keepers are AI-controlled all the time, and that usually means disaster. The good news is that they have been upgraded, along with everything else, and seems to be much more efficient.
Regarding the gameplay, I also have to mention that the PlayStation 4 and PC version are actually moddable, allowing the community to add new players, teams, kits, and a host of other modifications.
Not everything is alright
There is much to unpack for Pro Evolution Soccer 2019, and while it does looks like it’s a massive upgrade from last year, there are still a few problems that linger. I’m also quite sure that the community will find new issues, as they do every year.
If this is the first time you’re playing Pro Evolution Soccer 2019, you will notice that some of the teams have weird names. The reason is that the licenses for many of these championships or teams are owned, by FIFA, at least for now. The developers have to improvise. If you’re playing this on PlayStation 4 or PC, you might be able to mitigate the problem with community patches.
Even if I praised the AI, there are plenty of occasions to berate it. For starters, the referees have very inconsistent performances, during the same match I might add. They are either too lenient or too harsh, and it’s especially apparent for fouls. You never really know if you’re tackling with too much force because the result can go either way.
The visuals are not stellar either. While the pitch, the players, and lots of other aspects of the engine have been improved, other areas are still lacking. The most obvious issue is related to the faces of the players, which look awful at close range. Sometimes, the faces are deforming when trying to express an emotion, like happiness. Fortunately, players are only going to notice this at replays.
- Slower gameplay
- Better animations
- Unpredictable passes
- Improved ball physics
- Inconsistent referees
- Bad player faces at closeups
- Terrible UI
Even if the developers made great strides from 2018, they still don’t have enough time to fix all of the existing problems. And that’s too bad because, above all else, Pro Evolution Soccer 2019 is really fun to play. If you can ignore some of the minor issues I laid out, I’m sure that any football fan will be more than happy to give it a go.