Review: Pro Evolution Soccer 2019 (PS4)

Review: Pro Evolution Soccer 2019 (PS4)

Platforms:

  • PlayStation 4
  • Xbox One
  • PC

Platform/Hardware Used:

  • PSN Download
  • PS4 Pro
  • HDTV

Extras:

  • DualShock 4 Required (1)
  • Move None
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Title: Pro Evolution Soccer 2019
Format: Blu-ray Disc / PSN (29.21 GB)
Release Date: August 28, 2019
Publisher: Konami
Developer: Konami Digital Entertainment, PES Productions
Original MSRP: $59.99 (US), £49.99 (UK)
ESRB Rating: E
PEGI: 3
A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review purposes.
PS Nation Review Policy

Audio Review:
The audio review for this game is available on Episode 592 of the podcast.

Gameplay:
After more than a decade of releases on the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360, the Pro Evolution Soccer series has dropped the older consoles to focus exclusively on the current generation.

In doing so, the development team no longer needs to worry about dumbing down the code and they’ve made significant improvements to the presentation with this year’s entry.

Konami was dealt a major blow in losing the rights to the UEFA Champions League to the FIFA franchise after a decade of exclusivity.

In a bid to make up for it, they’ve acquired the licensing rights to quite a few leagues including the Russian Premier Liga.

It’s nice to have all the new options, but the loss of UEFA will undoubtedly turn a lot of players to the competition. If they go they’ll be missing out on all the new mechanics which make the game feel even better than it has in recent years.

First touch now depends more on the individual player and the situation surrounding them. Dribbling has been reworked to take into account the skills of the player and the distance to the ball, and new shooting mechanics and animations have been added based on the individual player and the ball position.

Review: Pro Evolution Soccer 2019 (PS4) Review: Pro Evolution Soccer 2019 (PS4)

The above changes come together with sublime animations in passing, receiving, even the redirects. I’ve been consistently impressed with the subtleties and the way each player feels just a bit different. It’s really led to some exciting moments during matches where I feel like I’ve really made a difference and that I made that play based on who I was and the angle of attack, rather than just a canned animation.

It all adds up to a smooth experience on the pitch and some really enjoyable matches. I felt more in control throughout the games I’ve played and things just felt better overall.

Another huge step forward for the franchise, and really for Soccer video games overall, comes in the form of visible fatigue. If you try to sprint through every match you’ll suddenly find yourself in trouble. Players will slow down and show signs of fatigue, leaving areas open for exploit. Substitutions become critical and you’ll need to be careful how you approach each match in general. It’s a fantastic addition.

Now, about myClub, Konami’s answer to FIFA Ultimate Team (FUT). A number of changes were made in here as well and it appears to be more in-depth than FUT, but it’s much more opaque for the casual Soccer (Football) fan, and from my understanding, for the more well-versed fans as well.

Review: Pro Evolution Soccer 2019 (PS4) Review: Pro Evolution Soccer 2019 (PS4)

There are just too many moving pieces here, hiring a manager, contract tickets, scouting, loan players, featured players, duplicate players, weekly leagues, and on and on. It’s overwhelming, even with the basic tutorial given when you start it up for the first time. And I use the term basic quite loosely.

The game takes you through your first steps with a flood of information that ignores entire sections of the UI. Each area is highlighted as you go through it but you’re left wondering about the other areas. Intimidating doesn’t even begin to cover it.

The myClub section, which is highlighted and pushed a lot in the game, just feels too complex and overwhelming compared to the offerings from EA Sports and it’s just not something I can get interested in with the apparent level of commitment needed.

Visuals:
In finally leaving behind the last generation of consoles, Pro Evolution Soccer 2019 is able to embrace 4K HDR support for all platforms. If you don’t have a TV that can handle this, like me, the game still looks great. Lighting has been reworked in this year’s edition and it looks much more realistic than it ever has.

Review: Pro Evolution Soccer 2019 (PS4) Review: Pro Evolution Soccer 2019 (PS4)

Weather effects are in play and as a part of that, snow has been brought back and it will affect your gameplay. The weather changes look quite good and make the different matches that much more unique.

There were more than forty stadiums at launch and great care has been taken in making them all feel as authentic as possible in terms of the actual architecture and the fan experience but the official PES partners got extra attention. This can really make a big game to game difference for better or worse.

Audio:
The commentary is solid and keeps up with the matches but there tends to be a lot of repetition. Individual stadiums come to life with team specific chants and cheers, but only if they’re specific PES partners. Everyone else gets generic chants and crowd noise. For the casual fan this isn’t that big a deal but it’s not something the hardcore will be happy about.

Online/Multiplayer:
Online matches are solid, connecting relatively quickly and playing out with no real problems in my experience. The myClub functionality needs the online presence and it can be an intimidating place for someone not as well versed in the ins and outs of all the players and strategies.

Review: Pro Evolution Soccer 2019 (PS4) Review: Pro Evolution Soccer 2019 (PS4)

Conclusion:
Gameplay is king and with all its tweaks Pro Evolution Soccer 2019 really nails that aspect of a hard fought match. It’s a vast improvement over what I’ve played in FIFA the past few years and I can’t stress enough how much fun it is. The animations and individual styles of the players all work together beautifully.

The loss of UEFA however can’t be understated and the extra leagues feel like a band-aid on a gushing wound. It’s really a shame the gameplay has come together in such a great way at the same time UEFA has gone away.

I guess it really depends on what you’re looking for in this game. If you want a good, challenging game of Soccer where you really feel like you’re in control then this is the game for you. If you need the biggest leagues and licenses, you might want to look elsewhere.

Score:
8.0

* All screenshots used in this review were taken directly from the game using the Share functionality on the PlayStation 4.

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Written by Josh Langford

Josh Langford

Josh has been gaming since 1977 starting with the Atari 2600.
He currently owns 26 different consoles and 6 different handhelds (all hooked up and in working condition) including all consoles from the current generation.

Josh is currently the US PR & Marketing Manager for Fountain Digital Labs and has recused himself from any involvement on PS Nation arising from posting or editing any news or reviews stemming from FDL.

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