Not a big fan of sports video games but in no way do I consider them trash or obsolete. It’s simply a matter of preference right? Now as a person who isn’t hardcore soccer fan, I feel like I can go into this better with an unbiased opinion. That way, it’s easier to analyze PES from a solely video game standing point. With that in mind, here was the taste the game left in my mouth after I played it for a bit.
Now I’ve played only a handful of Fifa/PES games in the past while over at a friend’s place. One thing that always bothered me about them was how the player models used to move sometimes. When watching from the isometric camera angle view above, it was very hard to tell. However, after you’d zoom in for the replays, it was hard not to be iffy. Models looked like their limbs were magnetized into the appropriate positions to perform each action.
PES 20 however, is really smooth. This feeling is rarely experienced. In fact, the way the players move is pretty natural, almost made me forgot I was playing a video game. The feet no longer clipped through the ball, people didn’t awkwardly slide and skate into position for completing a certain action, etc. Other than that, the feeling of the ball itself was really good. Like, in PES 20, the soccer ball was genuinely pretty weighty. You could feel every kick you put behind it and the way it had a solidifying impact on every bounce/thump was pretty good. It’s been better than previous football games within which the ball sort of felt like punting a beach ball around the place. Regarding realism in sensations and animations, this game did a great job. It was really fun to pass and cross the ball around. I also loved pulling off a specific move by high passing the ball to a teammate that would headbutt it into the goal.
One of the weak points of this game, AKA, the ticks, was how the AI would behave sometimes. Now obviously, you wouldn’t control every player on the field. That would be one hell of a clustefuck. The ones you’re not controlling at the time do what roles were assigned to them. The strikers move in pace with you, always within range to take a pass if you roll it their way. Besides that, the defenders are supposed to deny access to the enemy strikers when they head to your own goal. These genius AI defenders were horrible at that. Now at first I thought maybe it was a one time occurrence since my defender didn’t even react to the fact that the striker went past him. It was like someone controlling them just put the controller down. After seeing it happen multiple times, I went online and found out that it’s a recurring issue with multiple players out there. Clearly, it’s an issue with the game then.
Besides that, the referee was another piece of work. The issue with him was with how inconsistent he was. One second he’ll foul you for barely touching another player. The next instance, he’ll straight up ignore you fly kicking the ball dribbler in the nuts. It was bizarre. I wanted to test the game’s pacing and RNG on getting a red card as well. To do so, I had a little game of dive kick in the middle of PES. I went around tackling and bashing into every player that breathed near the ball. That sort of made me realize that the referee does NOT want to bring out the red card no matter what. If you’re playing with your mates, be sure to tackle them as much as possible honestly.
Another tick that wasn’t too major was the announcer. The guy had a really choppy form of commentary, one that clearly gave itself away as differently recorded lines being put together. I honestly remember there being better commentary in Sonic Riders. Plus the guy’s reactions were so inconsistent, like the referee. I could pull off a cross headbutt goal which couldn’t garner a good reaction. My goalkeeper on the other hand, punts the ball and the guy goes wild. Maybe I’m too used to WWE games in the commentary sense but Goddamn was this one disappointing.
Now then, to a slightly juicy bit. Football and sports games in general are notorious for being absolute microtransaction hell. Specifically in how they use team making in their business model. It’s where the EA meme of Surprise Mechanics came from. God is that annoying to even think about. However, PES actually did a pretty good job with managing their team building. I’m talking about the MyClub feature within the game.
Now I’m not saying the game was devoid of microtransactions. More like, it was actually an option rather than a necessity. I also liked how they formatted their pack opening. Each pack did narrow down the players you could get out of them. Yes, it was still gambling obviously. However, it was selective gambling. Unlike the Fifa games that straight up felt like they were ripping you off. It was terrible.
Without spending any money on the game post-purchase, I did actually manage to round up a pretty solid team within a few days. It had players like Ronaldo, Messi, all the mainstream A-listers basically. I don’t know football all that well but I know these players. Also, you could improve each player you got in your team. Therefore, even if you didn’t get the All Star, you could mould the player into one. If that makes any sense.
My main conclusion on the MyClub and team building feature is that it wasn’t as expensive or grindy as the mainstream sports games. You could buy your way into dozens of packs to guarantee getting the players you wanted, but you could almost just as easily work for it. It reminded me of how Devil May Cry 5 handled it’s in game transactions.
Regarding the UI of the game, it was pretty sluggish. Too many menus to navigate through sometimes. That rapidly got annoying pretty quickly however, the great music is what kept it from being unbearable. There were a few grammatical errors here and there, nothing too bothering, however.
Overall, I’d definitely consider PES 20 a better alternative to the mainstream sports games as long as they push out a day one patch to fix the stuff a lot of people have mentioned online. No more dumbass defenders and indecisive referees.