Sunday, 3 November 2019

eFootball PES 2020 ★★★☆☆

I have never been a football fan. As a kid, I hated playing it in school and I hated watching it. I hated the rage and the hooliganism it inspired in people, and it drove me crazy how supporters would consider themselves part of a team: “we’ve made it to the championship”, friends would tell me. Have you? And how did you help? I know, I’m petty, but football just drives me up the wall. However, I could always get behind a football video game. I have no idea why. It’s just such a simple sport that lends itself to gaming.

With each passing year bringing several new football games, it’s very difficult to review a new one because fundamentally none of the main mechanics will be any different to previous iterations. Despite the increased graphics and new players, teams and pitches being included, at the end of the day, it’s still a football game.

With that being said, the gameplay does feel different to earlier games. Feeling more like a methodical and strategic game rather than a button masher, PES 2020 rewards slow and thoughtful play, allowing more time for manoeuvres and accurate shots. While this heavier and slower handling of the players – and indeed the ball – can be jarring at first, once mastered, it feels right. Studious, talented players will have the edge here due to an increased focus on angles for passing/shooting and a ‘Finesse’ system which gives players more one-on-one control. 

Stellar player animations also excel PES 2020 to a higher plain than previous games, making the athletes feel natural and human instead of the usual robotic movements we’re used to seeing.
Visually, PES 2020 makes big improvements to what we’re used to seeing in the franchise. The introduction of the ‘Stadium’ camera angle is the first thing anyone who has ever played a football game will notice, which recreates a football TV broadcast – trading close-ups of players for a wider view of the pitch and the stadium that houses it. The detail in this angle is gorgeous, making the venues and crowds really feel alive instead of the usual faceless hordes and textureless buildings usually found in FIFA and PES games. 

While PES games have usually been lacking in the career mode department – something sports games should really put more effort into – PES 2020 makes an improvement by introducing Master League mode, which brings managerial duty into play. It’s not flawless, but it’s an interesting and fresh addition. Career mode however still leaves a lot to be desired. Also flawed is the game’s online play, bringing nothing new and certainly nothing that isn’t done better in the more online-oriented Fifa world.

On the whole, PES 2020 isn’t the definitive football game as I’m sure next year will bring further improvements and the year after that. Still lacking a compelling single-player mode and underwhelming in the online department, it’s no masterpiece. But for what it is – a slower and more methodical football game for those who actually want to think about their play and take time to learn skills rather than mindlessly mash their controller’s buttons – it’s certainly on target for a goal. PES 2020 won’t win over anybody with a dislike for football games, but for those who follow the genre, there is a lot here to like.

Sam Love

PES 2020 at CeX

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