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Pro Evolution Soccer 2009 REVIEW

Pro Evolution Soccer 2009 Review (Xbox 360)

From clunky cartridges to compact discs, wired controllers to Bluetooth sticks, Goldeneye battles at your mate’s house to online Call of Duty wars -- through the years I have welcomed all sorts of changes in my gaming life. But the one thing that remained constant was Pro Evolution Soccer. It was always my preferred choice when the new footy season came around -- that is until last year of course.

Konami’s winning formula has been tested and surpassed not only by time, but also by the rapid rise of competitor EA Sports’ FIFA series. With a stellar showing this year, FIFA 09 once again raised the bar for soccer games. Can Pro Evolution Soccer 2009 win back the title, or at the very least stay in the top division?


On the Pitch

Throughout the years, gameplay has been the pride of the PES series and a joy for all the PES gamers. PES 2009 is no different. The tempo of this year's game has been toned down a bit from the 2008 version. This subtle tweak makes for a much more realistic soccer experience; though, it is a little hard to adjust to at first.

What also makes the game more realistic are the improved ball physics, which are evident everywhere on the pitch. The passes are no longer very quick or automatic, and the ball moves along the grass as it should. This occurs because the ball is now affected by the direction you choose and the momentum of the player passing the ball. It is also more difficult this year to get a good strike on goal, as a heavy touch on the shoot button will almost certainly blast the ball off target.

Speaking of goals, PES once again makes its money in the final third. The amount of varied goals that are scored is downright amazing. Honestly, you will be hard-pressed to find any two goals that look identical. In this regard, PES is like chess –- no matter how many times you have played it, the vast amount of possibilities keep the game fresh, which makes gamers come back for more.

Unfortunately, old issues that have bothered this series for years still remain. You will still see some passes that go in a totally different direction than you wanted them to, and there is still a clunky feeling when players collide. Also, the CPU on the opposing team always reacts faster to loose balls than your own teammates, which can be very frustrating.

A.I.

The A.I. on each of the five levels of difficulty plays evenly throughout the pitch, unlike in the FIFA series, where the lower levels play defense but simply turn off in the offensive half. On the top two most difficult levels, the CPU controlled teams do not always dominate possession but are quite deadly when it comes to scoring goals.

This year the goalies seem less restricted and smarter in their movement around the box. They are also much better at holding onto outside shots. There are not a lot of easy tap-ins or cheap goals this year because of this improvement. Overall, it is a much tighter game defensively since you will have to rely more on tactics and methodical passing than dribbling your way through defenders for a clean shot on goal. That being said, fast star players like Manchester United’s Cristiano Ronaldo are forces to be dealt with. In a controlled tempo game, speed might not kill but it will surely do damage to the defense in PES 2009.

Graphics and Presentation

Graphically, PES 2009 is the best looking game to date in the series -- as you would expect from the latest version of the game. Nevertheless, this is where PES really is behind the curve. The facial resemblances are pretty good, but the graphics are really not next-gen, and Konami can longer be excused from this criticism.

Konami has apparently not received the memo that the gameplay models should at least look remotely like the intro video shown before the start menu. Instead, the company teases fans with a great looking CGI video, like it has been doing for years, and then has us experience a huge drop off in visual beauty once the actual game starts.

The commentary is also poor yet again. The lead announcer sounds more like a text-to-speech GPS navigation system, and his colleague will sometimes not even say a word for a whole half.

The edit options have always been key in the PES series, and the same can be said for this version. In addition to the usual editing of kits, you can upload your own songs or team chants.


Become a Legend

The Konami version of a career mode makes its debut in PES 2009, but it is not an outstanding one. The mode is much more restrictive than the FIFA version in almost every regard. Unlike in FIFA where you can decide to pick a player on your favorite team to play with, you are forced to create a new player in PES 2009 and start at the very young age of 17. While this aspect surely has its fans, a little more flexibility would not have hurt.

Once you are done creating your star, you get offered contracts from three different clubs, which depend on the league you select. After creating Manchester United youth player Rodrigo Possebon, my alter-ego was none too pleased that the best offer was from Manchester City. But I swallowed my pride and suited up for the blue half of Manchester.

Your career involves club and international games, as well as the various tournaments played at each level. Your career spans from the age of 17 to the age of 35, making for a very lengthy mode. Playing with CPU-controlled teammates is not an easy task, and it is also not as engaging as playing as the whole team. Frustration is sure to set in while playing these games because your CPU teammates sometimes refuse to pass you the ball, even when you are clearly the best option. The call-to-receive-a-pass button does not work a lot of the time -- at points I almost wished there was another button that would throw your player’s hands up in the air in frustration.

Your player's performances are also not rated in any sort of a detailed way. So essentially you could basically run around the pitch out of position all game without facing the consequences. The mode is a novelty to play once your player gets on a good team and consistently plays, but there are a lot of training matches and bench appearances to get through first.

You can also take your legend online and play with friends, which is definitely more fun. However, you can only play online with a maximum of four players, and you have to play against a CPU team.

Online

In addition to the online Legend mode, exhibition games can also be played online. Your results go towards the division rankings, which are updated weekly. Some online issues still persist though. Konami’s tedious online registration process awaits PS3 users, while the online lag that seriously plagued last year’s version is still sometimes apparent. The online mode is much more playable, however, and most of the time it should get the job done if you are hosting with a stable connection.

UEFA Champions League

Yes, it is the real thing, licensed logo, format and all. However it is nothing but a fancy cover for a Cup mode that can be easily user created. While I do appreciate the official presentations of UEFA, Konami was still not able to get the licenses for all the eligible Champions League teams. So it kind of sucks when the lovely UEFA anthem is playing just before a match is played between two teams with unknown team names.

Final Thoughts

Despite Konami not reaching next-gen standards, PES 2009 is still going to provide thrills for PES fans, and it is also a very enjoyable footy game for soccer purists. Yet, while PES 2009 is a step up from last year’s version, it might be a step in the wrong direction. It is time for the series to change.

On The Pitch: Although PES is no longer the clear-cut soccer game to play, PES 2009 offers great intuitive gameplay from goal to goal. It is now simply a matter of preference when it comes to FIFA and PES.

Graphics: The visuals are a poor effort from Konami in this day and age of sports gaming. The players’ faces do resemble their real-life counterparts, but everything else shows this series desperately needs a makeover.

Sound: The Soundtrack is mediocre, but it helps that you can now upload your own tunes to different sections of the game. Commentary is atrocious, and coupled with the sound effects of a kicked ball, it wont be long before you hit the mute button on your remote.

Entertainment Value: PES 2009 is a great game to play with friends, and the A.I. does a great job of playing realistic on most difficulty levels. Become a Legend mode is more of a hit online than it is playing on your own. The edit options are still the best in any sports game, and that alone can keep you busy for a long time.

Learning Curve: For new gamers, it would take at least a week to get used to the tempo and controls, but PES gamers should feel right at home.

Online: In terms of online modes, PES 2009 pales in comparison to FIFA 09, and the servers are once again disappointing.

Final Score: 7.0 (Good)


Pro Evolution Soccer 2009 Score
Authentic gameplay.
Improved ball physics.
Edit options.
Graphics and presentation are not next-gen.
Online servers could be better.
Limited licenses.
7
out of 10
Pro Evolution Soccer 2009 Videos
Member Comments
# 1 Qb @ 01/14/09 06:27 PM
Some fair evaluations and criticisms, but I've heard a TON of good things about the Be A Legend mode. His point about being able to start with an existing player in FIFA is a good one and would have been a nice option in PES. But if he insists on comparing PES's BAL to FIFA's BAP, don't you think he should mention that FIFA's mode only lasts four seasons?
 
# 2 ant0n @ 01/14/09 08:19 PM
Offline I think PES beats FIFA.
 
# 3 therizing02 @ 01/14/09 09:49 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by ant0n
Offline I think PES beats FIFA.
Definitely.
 
# 4 Abar22 @ 01/15/09 08:58 AM
Quote:
Originally Posted by Qb
Some fair evaluations and criticisms, but I've heard a TON of good things about the Be A Legend mode. His point about being able to start with an existing player in FIFA is a good one and would have been a nice option in PES. But if he insists on comparing PES's BAL to FIFA's BAP, don't you think he should mention that FIFA's mode only lasts four seasons?
I agree. There also seems to be little complaining about a Be a Pro bug that basically ruins the mode. Whenever your teammates serve a suspension from yellow or red cards they never come back to the team for that season. 3/4ths of the way through my first season I realized Beckham and 3 other starters for the Galaxy were never coming back. At last count Becks was gone for 8 games before I decided to hang that mode up. The rumor was if you made captain there was a way to get them back by putting them in reserves for a game and then moving them back but why should this even be an issue?
Combine that bug with a 4 year limit and a lack of in season games (league cups or champs league is missing, can't remember) and the winner of the Be A _______ mode is apparent.
 
# 5 asu666 @ 01/15/09 09:45 AM
I've played both a lot this year after having played WE9 on my Xobx the past few. I have to say that FIFA 09 is the game that has finally passed the PES series. Outside of the license issue, the rightstick defensive switching, and financial model in FIFA's Manager mode put it over the top. The graphical upgrade to FIFA 09 was pretty great too. PES still has a few little touches that FIFA is missing like seeing all the subs coming into the game instead of just one in FIFA and a Master League mode option in FIFA would be a nice addition too. The race is still very close, but PES needs to kick it in gear now that it's pretty much neck-in-neck. If only American football had the same quality race going on.
 
# 6 Matt10 @ 01/15/09 12:47 PM
I think when you compare the two games, you have to compare the two types of gamers.

It is my opinion that casual gamers picked FIFA over PES. How could you not be a casual gamer when MM is broken, yet you still hail it worthy - or how about the roue-one football shown by the AI. Or how about the fact that you can't give up 15 shots on goal on any level above Regular/Pro.

As for the hardcore gamer, gameplay...gameplay...gameplay...game modes...gameplay. I'm not going to go into detail, because usually the hardcore gamer is a soccer fan - not just a soccer video game fan. A hardcore gamer wants his 'MM" mode to be long-lasting, and the AI to be active in their transfers/negotiations. A hardcore gamer wants to be able to play 20-35 min real-time halves and still keep the score at 0-0 by halftime.

PES surpassed FIFA with flying colors in my opinion. Did anyone ever notice that EA changed their control scheme to match that of PES the last couple of years?

I don't know who came up with what is considered "next-gen" graphics or not, but I believe PES does a great job at representing true physicality of players.

FIFA 09


PES 2009




 
# 7 Pared @ 01/15/09 02:28 PM
Ha. That's great. You had to take probably the worst picture of the PC version and compare it to prove your point.

For anyone interested, here's a link to that same websites pictures of the 360 version, which provide more accurate pictures to just how stunning FIFA really looks:

http://www.gamesradar.com/xbox360/fi...16163536218032

 
# 8 Matt10 @ 01/15/09 02:30 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by Pared
Ha. That's great. You had to take a the worst picture of the PC version and compare it to prove your point.

For anyone interested, here's a link to that same websites pictures of the 360 version, which provide more accurate pictures to just how stunning FIFA really looks:

http://www.gamesradar.com/xbox360/fi...16163536218032
My bad. I never said FIFA didn't look good. I was actually comparing PES to FIFA - how PES is on the right track.

It's EA, man - it's already a given the graphics for FIFA would be legit. I didn't know it was a PC shot - thanks for the links anyhow.

Should I include a disclaimer stating I'm not trying to bash FIFA as well? Read all my posts in the FIFA forum - all positive and just dissapointed in some key elements.

 
# 9 Abar22 @ 01/15/09 03:13 PM
Fifa is definitely a good game but it has major issues that ruin both Be A Pro mode and MM. In MM almost every team is set to pressure too much in their offensive third of the field. Combine that with the ability to close down and dispossess offensive players in a flash and you have route 1, end to end football. Even if you want to slow the game down by passing between the midfield and the back line you aren't really playing slow because you have to ping-pong the ball between the lines to keep possession.

You have the cpu buying up star players in the transfer market only to keep them on the bench. Then as the season rolls on and games are introduced in the middle of the week you get teams that are completely gassed because the cpu doesn't change their starting line-ups. If you add all those up get a very pretty, detailed, involved Manager's Mode that doesn't actually play very well.

It took me 60 or so games to really see the writing on the wall with Fifa. It's a fun game at times and good online but the mode crushing bugs that don't get a patch are too much to bother with.

For me Fifa wins in graphics, licensing, online play, and the features of MM. PES wins in BAL, the execution of ML, and represents the game of football the best on the field.

My 2 cents...
 
# 10 kromo50 @ 01/15/09 03:24 PM
Still WE09 is the game for me. It takes a little bit to get the shooting and the passing to the wrong guy is bad but over all this game plays so much better the FIfa. I also have been playing this game since PS1 but if you are going to get this it is way better on PS3 then 360 just because of the controller that is if u play with the D-pad.
 
# 11 Qb @ 01/15/09 03:56 PM
I may have started it to an extent, so I apologize, but to be fair let's keep it about PES when possible...
 
# 12 GOBLUE_08 @ 01/15/09 05:49 PM
I havent played PES on consoles in a couple years but on pc PES is King and its not even close. Especially with all of the mods and patches folks put out.
 
# 13 Saint19 @ 01/15/09 07:36 PM
Pretty fair review I guess. However, I think PES's graphics are pretty good. The faces look better than Fifa's. I love how sharp the players are in comparison as well. But I really wish the animations were more like some of Fifa's.
 
# 14 ant0n @ 01/15/09 08:24 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by Saint19
Pretty fair review I guess. However, I think PES's graphics are pretty good. The faces look better than Fifa's. I love how sharp the players are in comparison as well. But I really wish the animations were more like some of Fifa's.
You sure? Because Fifa has some faces that are pretty good as does PES. The thing Pes is hindered by is because it's graphics engine does not have enough texture like the faces in FIFA. It's why the faces in pes really look like pictures pasted on a maniquin. The thing PES has over PES is the kits.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-P12Bn1IdVI
Some look better on PES and some on FIFA. Look at Deco and Terry.
 
# 15 MrSimCity @ 01/15/09 09:35 PM
Yes I do agree PES does a better job on player facial resemblances like the review says...bt like ant0n said, the engine isn't strong enough
 
# 16 Donovan @ 01/15/09 10:13 PM
You barely hit on Master League in this review, thats the bread and butter of gameplay, **** online and become a legend.
 
# 17 Saint19 @ 01/16/09 12:57 AM
Quote:
Originally Posted by ant0n
You sure? Because Fifa has some faces that are pretty good as does PES. The thing Pes is hindered by is because it's graphics engine does not have enough texture like the faces in FIFA. It's why the faces in pes really look like pictures pasted on a maniquin. The thing PES has over PES is the kits.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-P12Bn1IdVI
Some look better on PES and some on FIFA. Look at Deco and Terry.
Yeah I've seen the video before and have both games. IMHO I think the faces in PES look better.
 
# 18 taiketsu @ 01/16/09 04:01 AM
As good as FIFA is, PES is simply the better game for playing with friends. The simple controls, fast gameplay, and distinctions between athletes provides immediate gratification. It's sad they can't get their online working properly.

Also, they ought to implement a server to allow players exchange option files.

I agree they have fallen behind on the graphics, but if they would just fix a couple things and improve the master's league, I would go back to PES for the gameplay.
 
# 19 carnalnirvana @ 01/16/09 06:06 AM
personally PES gets the off the field stuff (ML, active transfer market, subs, bench usage etc) right or close to satisfying the hardcore gamer.......

this makes it appealing to the guys fed up with the lack of immersion that MM has in fifa, MM is so broken the devs would tell you they have not played a game in it since 2003.

both games have their pros & cons, i picked it up even though i dont like it on next gen to see if it got better (IMO) and its the same to me..............
 
# 20 ant0n @ 01/16/09 01:34 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by Saint19
Yeah I've seen the video before and have both games. IMHO I think the faces in PES look better.
Right now I agree the majority look better. EA have still not gotten the hang of the face texturing. By next year I think there will be a lot more faces looking like Deco.
 

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