I’ve been playing football (or soccer for you yanks) games on PC since 98, Fifa 98 to this day has one of the best soundtrack and the indoor court was nothing short of awesome. I came across the Pro Evolution Soccer franchise much later, I believe it was in ’04 when I first played PES and while the lack of licenses and screwed up Germany player names annoyed me, the gameplay was amazing. Over the years it’s been easy to hate on EA and Fifa because they were the franchise players and every time I played Pro Evo, I felt like I was supporting the underdog. However, Fifa’s move to the Frostbyte engine at the start of this generation was a literal game changer. 

Image Courtesy: Konami Entertainment

It made PES fall behind, not in graphics but in gameplay and licensing, which admittedly they always struggled with. To be honest, I guess we could say it wasn’t that PES fell behind as much as Fifa galloped forward.

I first noticed the slump in 2016, then 2017 the game just didn’t seem interesting enough but they still had the rights to Champions League. Pro Evolution Soccer 2018 came with visual improvements but the gameplay just felt like it was slower than Fifa. Obviously the hardcore fan was quite to say it’s more ‘realistic’ that it was more ‘simulation’ than Fifa. While Fifa, not faultless in its own right, brought new game modes, PES shrunk further within itself.

It lost the one thing that made it better than Fifa. It lost its character.

Roll around to PES 2019, the Champions League license is gone, while they coaxed me in by having Liverpool’s license, the premier league, or their version of it is so full of fake teams that it hardly feels real. But like I said before, licensing was never going to be their strength, the graphics had kept up, but I personally never cared too much about it except for the crowd, which had a real good TV feel to it and added to the ambiance. But where Pro Evolution Soccer was supposed to excel, was gameplay.

Image Courtesy: Konami Entertainment

And that’s when the other shoe dropped, and it didn’t just drop, it plummetted. The gameplay was awkward, slow, and excruciatingly boring. AI was dumber than a doorknob, heck a doorknob may have done a better job. Defence from the AI, especially in my favourite mode – ‘Become a Legend’ was so bad that I had my striker running back and forth throughout the game (and tire out in the process). 

The ball feels light, their feet feel heavy and the grass feels like butter that’s about to become a puddle of itself. PES lost its snappy movement and its quick counters. It lost the one thing that made it better than Fifa. It lost its character.

Image Courtesy: Konami Entertainment

Pro Evolution Soccer 2019 didn’t really take that many steps back from 2018, but in a fast paced industry, Pro Evolution Soccer franchise has stayed still for 3 years and it’s set them back atleast a decade.

If you’re looking for a football game that will help you get your fix on rainy days (or in the winter if you happen to live in a cold place), Pro Evolution Soccer 2019 isn’t going to be the game for it.  In all honesty, it’s bloody fucking awful. 

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