Review – Pro Evolution Soccer 2019 (Xbox One)

Like most people my age and from my country, I didn’t grow up on FIFA when it came to playing a football video game. I have always relied on Konami’s football outings, be it International Superstar Soccer on the Nintendo 64 and Winning Eleven / Pro Evolution Soccer on the following generation. As time went by, I did start playing its competitor more and more due to Pro Evolution Soccer‘s worsened physics and shocking lack of licenses during the late 2000s and 2010s. After my positive experience playing PES 2019 at E3 2018, I was looking forward to playing the full release. Would that be the game that would convince to go back to Konami’s pitch? Well, I guess so, as this is a great football simulator.

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We all love Bobby.

The biggest difference I could notice between PES 2019 and PES 2018 (it was available on Gamepass so I did play the game a bit in order to prepare myself for 2019) is the amount of new content included. Konami knows the entire Pro Evolution Soccer franchise has always been infamous for its lack of licensing and overall amount of teams. To their credit, they did try improving this year’s overall roster by a very significant margin, with the addition of more new leagues than any other previous edition. Between the addition of the Portuguese, Russian, Swiss, Belgian, and many other leagues, there’s a lot more meat this time around. Konami is also promising more leagues to be added throughout the entire season and that’s something I’m definitely looking forward to.

Sadly, PES 2019 still suffers when it comes to the main leagues and their licenses: teams like Manchester United, Chelsea, Juventus and Real Madrid are all unlicensed with fictional names and kits, meaning that you’ll need to look for an edit patch or manually rename them yourself in order to have a slightly more realistic experience.

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Edit time!

In terms of modes, the game is basically the same as last year’s edition, in a true “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it” kind of way. The online multiplayer is still solid, and while not exactly my cup of tea, the MyClub mode is still fun and not as shady as FUT usually is.  Besides the fan favorite Master League, a mode in which realism is thrown away in favor of playing a dream league comprised of the best teams in the world, PES 2019‘s best mode, in my opinion, is still its Become a Legend mode. The sole fact I can play as myself and show up in press conferences and the like is tons of fun for my inner frustrated footballing kid.

Modes aside, the most impressive aspect in PES 2019 is how well-polished it is as a whole. The game uses the same Fox Engine as the more modern Metal Gear games and that means excellent overall visuals and beautiful framerates. The more famous players feature incredibly well-drawn faces that look just like their real counterparts, while lesser known players have generic faces. Sadly, those faces don’t look as realistic, retaining a very “video gamey” vibe.

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The Old Firm is always fun.

The gameplay is also extremely impressive, also thanks to the Fox Engine. The physics are great, as the game retains the full body contact features introduced in PES 2018. A few new skills have been introduced to further improve the amount of things you can do on the pitch, including, but not limited to, passing without looking and performing rising shots. Players don’t look robotic this time around, as their passes and the way they shoot the ball all depend on the environment surrounding them, such as their speed, balance, and amount of defenders near them. There’s very little to complain around here; sure, dribbling is still not the easiest thing to do in the game, but it isn’t easy to do so in real life as well. Thankfully, the game does feature lots of tutorials for more advanced skills.

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I love this new (unlicensed) Manchester United outfit. So simple. So humble.

Pro Evolution Soccer 2019 might still suffer with its reduced amount of licensed content when compared to its competition, but I was pleased with this year’s additions. This feels like a good step on the right direction, since the gameplay and visuals are already top notch. After years being overshadowed by its glitzy rival, PES 2019 might just be the phoenix rising from the ashes that the series needed and that makes me optimistic about its future installments with even more teams and licenses.

 

Graphics: 9.0

The Fox Engine allows for some jaw-dropping realistic faces when you’re looking at a famous player, but nowhere near as detailed if it’s a lesser known player. Framerate is solid.

Gameplay: 9.5

Excellent controls with a few new tricks available for players, as well as a fully customizable button placement. The physics are also top notch. There’s little to complain about.

Sound: 8.0

A competent soundtrack comprised of indie hits and decent commentary provided by famous local pundits. The sound design is good, but the overall volume is low, as it’s not supposed to be the center of attention.

Fun Factor: 8.0

It vastly increased the amount of licenses and clubs, even though it’s still lackluster when compared to its competition. The excellent controls make up for an excellent overall football simulator.

Final Verdict: 8.5

Pro Evolution Soccer 2019 is available now on PS4, Xbox One and PC.

A copy of Pro Evolution Soccer 2019 was provided by the publisher.

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