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Review

PES 2019 Review

  • First Released Aug 28, 2018
    released
  • Reviewed Sep 6, 2018
  • PS4

The beautiful game.

The shackles are off for Pro Evolution Soccer 2019. No longer burdened by an obligation to develop for the previous generation of consoles, PES 2019 feels like the beginning of an exciting new era for Konami's long-running football series. The visuals have received a much-needed overhaul, while the on-pitch action has been tightened up, refined, and improved. The series’ lack of impactful licenses and insipid UI and commentary are issues that persist, but PES 2019 builds on what was already a runaway title winner to set a new high bar for the series.

The improvements to PES's superlative brand of football initially appear trivial, like Konami simply slapped a new lick of paint on last year's game. It still adopts the same methodical pace, tangible sense of weight, and breadth of passing as PES 2018, but after a couple of matches you begin to notice subtle changes that gradually add up. The impact of another year's worth of development becomes palpable.

Passing is, of course, the bedrock of any great football game, and PES 2019 enhances its passing dynamism with a plethora of new animations, bringing each kick of the ball to life with startling accuracy. Players are intelligent enough to contextually know what pass to play and when, giving you a greater sense of control over each passing move. If you're receiving the ball under pressure from a burly centre-half, you'll have the confidence to know you can potentially flick the ball around the corner to an overlapping winger or deftly play it back to a midfielder so he can knock it into space with the outside of his boot.

There's an impressive variety of passes in any one match, while the fluidity of the players' movement and the responsiveness behind each button press lead to moments of scintillating football--whether you're patiently building from the back, carving a team open with a clinical counter-attack, or hoofing it up to your big target man. PES's passing mechanics have been so accomplished for so many years now that there's always been a singular pleasure in simply shifting the ball between teammates. That outstanding feeling has only intensified in PES 2019.

Ball physics have been reworked and greatly contribute to this, too, making that little white sphere feel considerably more like a separate entity than ever before. It never appears as if the ball is rigidly stuck to your player's feet, nor are your passes laser-guided to their target. There's an authentic flow and unpredictability to the way the ball moves, curling and dipping through the air, spinning off a goalkeeper's fingertips, and neatly coming under the delicate control of a player like Mesut Özil. No one would blame you if you hopped into a replay just to ogle the ball's flight path and the animation that preceded it. Sending a diagonal pass to the opposite wing just feels right, and this excellence emanates out to each aspect of PES 2019's on-pitch action.

Players are more reactive off the ball and make smarter runs, pointing to the space they're about to sprint into to let you know when to unleash that inch-perfect through ball. There's more physicality to matches in PES 2019, too. Hurtling into a tackle and fighting tooth-and-nail to win the ball back with a defender is much more active and satisfying as a result. Players will jostle for position, realistically clattering into each other, and it feels rewarding to barge an attacker off the ball, or hold off a defender with a diminutive winger, before using a feint to create some space and escape their clutches.

Executing feints, step-overs, and other skill moves is intuitive, with each one mapped to the left and right sticks. There are few better feelings in PES than leaving a defender for dead with an eye-opening piece of skill, and this feeds into an added emphasis on player individuality. Cut inside with Lionel Messi and he's liable to flick the ball over the outstretched leg of a defender, using his low centre of gravity to peel past them, before rasping a left-footed shot into the bottom corner of the net. Meanwhile, someone like Paul Pogba will saunter around the midfield, finding pockets of space and using his large frame to maintain possession, while Roberto Firmino will occasionally bust out a no-look pass, and Cristiano Ronaldo will hang in the air on crosses for what feels like eternity, or smash in a dipping 30-yard screamer that has the 'keeper rueing his luck. PES has a recent history of making both its players and its teams feel unique, and with a deluge of superb new animations, PES 2019 is no different.

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It's not all roses, however, as it does still share some of the more disappointing aspects of its predecessors. Referees, for example, are maddeningly inconsistent; both too lenient and too harsh in the same match, while match presentation is bland and lifeless. A new naturalistic lighting engine produces some stunning sights, casting realistic shadows across much improved grass and crowd textures. But the UI surrounding it still feels trapped in the past, and stalwart commentators Peter Drury and Jim Beglin return with the same disjointed dialogue we've come to know and hate, with little in the way of new lines. Drury will still get overly excited by tame shots, and there's only so many times you can listen to Beglin say "If you don't speculate, you won't accumulate" across multiple games before you're tempted to turn the commentary off completely.

Some of the teams that are officially partnered with PES get the red carpet treatment, with recognisable chants and an authentic atmosphere permeating every home match. Play with Liverpool at Anfield and the kop will belt out "You'll never walk alone" before the match begins. On the flip side of this, teams with no official ties to PES receive canned crowd noises and indecipherable chants that rob these games of any ambience. This isn't terrible, but after showing a more accurate depiction of a Saturday afternoon matchday, the lack of a distinct atmosphere in these games can't help but feel like a downgrade.

Disappointingly, Master League remains almost untouched. The International Champions Cup debuts as a short pre-season tournament, and transfer negotiations have been slightly reworked, giving you more flexibility when it comes to player fees and contracts. You can now include clauses like clean-sheet bonuses and sell-on fees so there's not just a lump sum involved, but AI transfer logic still isn't particularly smart. Budgets and fees don't replicate the reality of the transfer market, with much smaller numbers than the astronomical prices we've seen players going for in recent years. It's possible to buy a player like Aymeric Laporte for £12 million a mere six months after Manchester City splashed out £57 million for the central defender in the real world.

At least goalkeepers have finally seen some enhancements. They're essentially useless when rushing off the goal line, regularly failing to close down an attacking player's angles, but this is where the faults end. Each number one's ability as a shot stopper has seen a marked improvement. Just like elsewhere on the pitch, goalkeepers have been blessed with a range of new animations that banish their previously robotic nature. They'll pull off some eye-catching saves, getting fingertips to shots destined for the top corner, or just generally making themselves as big as possible in order to get something, anything, on an incoming shot.

You'll need your 'keeper to be on top form in the latter stages of a match, too. The stamina system in PES 2019 has been reworked to place significantly more importance on your players' fitness. This has been dubbed "visible fatigue," and it does exactly what it says. Run a team ragged and their midfield and defence will visibly tire as the match wears on, potentially opening up space for you to exploit with fresh legs off the bench. This isn't a one-way street, though, as you'll need to be mindful of your own players' stamina as well--your star midfielder isn't much use if he can barely muster a light jog. This forces you to play a more considered game of football, sprinting only when it's absolutely necessary and making timely substitutions when the situation calls for it. This is a literal game-changing feature, and it wonderfully complements PES's brand of authentic, methodical football.

It's a shame, then, that PES is still trailing FIFA when it comes to official licensing. Losing the Champions League and Europa League licences to the EA behemoth is a massive blow for PES. To Konami's credit, it has responded by obtaining more licensed leagues than ever before, with the likes of the Scottish Premiership, the Russian Premier Liga, and Superliga Argentina all being featured in their official forms. They're certainly welcome additions, but these aren't standout leagues that are going to move the needle the same way the English Premier League or La Liga would. If you want to play in the Madrid derby you're still stuck choosing between KB Red White and MD White, and the Bundesliga is completely absent beyond Schalke 04 and Bayer Leverkusen, meaning two of Europe's biggest clubs--Borussia Dortmund and Bayern Munich--are nowhere to be found. Thankfully, the PES community does an amazing job creating update files if you want to mod in the teams, players, and kits that are missing, but you're out of luck on Xbox One where this isn't possible.

PES 2019's online servers are surprisingly stable, considering the series' history of troubled connections. We didn't encounter any noticeable latency across dozens and dozens of online matches. Meanwhile, myClub introduces a few changes to its Ultimate Team-esque formula. Featured Players are now released each week, with outstanding performances in the real world translating to attribute boosts in PES. The way you attain new players has changed, too, with players bundled in packs of four as opposed to the single player you would get in previous iterations of the mode. This lets you build up your squad faster or turn these additional players into XP trainers that can boost some of the key players in your team. If you receive three duplicates of the same player, you can also combine them together to get a higher-rated version of that player. Ultimately, these tweaks don't alter the structure of myClub too much, but it's a fun mode to engage with purely to play more of its outstanding brand of football.

For as long as EA continues to develop FIFA and hold a monopoly over official licences, PES will be the scrappy underdog just hoping for a surprise upset, even when it's fielding the likes of London Blue and PV White Red. The lack of licences for top-tier leagues remains a disheartening sticking point, but PES continues to make brilliant strides on the pitch, building on what was already an incredibly satisfying game of football to produce one of the greatest playing football games of all time. It might be lacking off the pitch, but put it on the field against the competition and a famous giant killing wouldn't be all that surprising.

Back To Top
The Good
Contextual animation and excellent ball physics bring the thrill of passing to life
Goalkeepers are more lifelike and less prone to errors
Visible fatigue changes the dynamic of matches
Increased physicality makes defending more active and satisfying
The Bad
The lack of top-level league licences is frustrating
Commentary is disjointed and tedious
9
Superb
About GameSpot's Reviews

About the Author

Richard has been playing PES since the good old days when it still had the International Superstar Soccer moniker. So far he's spent around 30 hours on PES 2019, with many more to come. Complimentary review code was provided by Konami.
43 Comments  RefreshSorted By 
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PxySyx

sucks...gladly i didnt buy it...

Ify

Pls why is there no pes19 for Xbox360 I am so sad about it & I don't have money for the current gen console (ps4 & xb1)

King_Pazuzu

@ify: Then just get PES18 for Xbox 360 and load the option files of the updated player roosters.

Sinner

HY,

year by year i have the same question to PES... does this year u made the CUSTOM TABLE ??? i mean if i want to play with friends (at home) (4,5 or 6 friends) can we make a table with 4-6 clubs or national teams ? with automatic calculating TABLE/top scorrer / top assist/ yeallow and red card bans... or WE STILL HAVE TO DRAW a TABLE ON THE PAPER ??? :/

LiquidSifu80

It seems like I'm almost alone in this, but I prefer FIFA over PES. I prefer the gameplay, I prefer the presentation and I prefer to have licenses. I played PES in the PS2 days, but they lost it for me early in the PS3 days.

DeadManRollin

I played the demo, and I liked it better than FIfa 18, and I am quite sure that I will have similar feelings with Fifa 19 demo as well.

But still, if I want to get a football game this year, chances are high that I will be getting Fifa again. Why? The answer simply is that PES lost the battle years ago. The first PES game I played was PES 3, and the only thing that I hated was not being able to take control of my favorite team and players. Gameplay was awesome and realistic. That was 15 years ago, and I still share the same opinion--Fifa will keep winning as long as they hold all the licenses.

This year, they even have the UEFA stuff. Sigh..

gut_eater

One thing that's always stood out w/soccer video game reviews to me is that most of the gameplay footage is shot from the telecast (side-scroll) view. I understand that's the way it's shown on tv in real life but do gamers really prefer that view to play the sport as opposed to an up-down view that most NHL, Madden, NBA games are played where it's more realistic to your perspective as what the player sees?

tsunami2311

I played the demo and thought it looked and played amazin, how bad the goal ai remains to be seen but 2016 and up which when i start with pes the goalie ai was just down right dumb

Sacrilegious1

It's good but 9 is too much. Developers of fotoball games are lazy cos there is not much choice, just this and Fifa. The game is good but lets not go too far. It still needs to improve. Let's start from the lazy difficulty in the game that make it harder by having your strikers brain fart in front of goal or hitting the post each match, whilst your opponents, even the smallest clubs seem to have the worlds best finishers.

D_S_e_V_e_N

People ranting about the gameplay - nothing has changed. All the silly issues with 18 are still there in 19.

Seems PES is becoming another cut'n'shut franchise like CoD - each year it just get's a new spray of paint and some small gameplay tweaks (but the glaring problems plaguing the franchise are still there!) and everyone seems happy, tbh those small changes could easily have been a patch for 18.

The game feels old and tired, same old patterns of play, same old AI restrictions, same old AI (scripting) interference on controls - the game used to be clean and precise now it's just a mess, but no doubt the kids (I suspect the same people who buy COD every year with their eyes closed) will love it and try to tell you that the gameplay is slicker than ever, or more realistic - if anything the game is going backwards. Options are more limited and the same old patterns quickly emerge.

Konami used take the development of this game seriously but now and I suppose it makes more business sense, they're just following every other franchise.

Underneath it all I can't believe how limited the play has become and how interfering the AI is - I'm tired of my players suddenly doing things at half speed or automated touches that I had not implemented, tired of tricks meaning nothing, tired of there being no inertia, no realism - yes it looks real but it plays more stiff and robotic than ever before.

Given how many chances Konami have had to make PES great...

6/10 - poor effort

Refund inc.

LOVE THE REVIEWS FROM THESE SITES .... THEY JUST COPY N PASTE THE SAME SCORES FROM LAST YEAR SO OF COURSE THATS ANOTHER 9/10 - you have to ask yourself do they even play the game or just cash the cheques from Konami?

Sacrilegious1

@D_S_e_V_e_N: Indeed. A match here and there where things do not go your way is understandable but not nearly every match. Opposition keepers seem to all be the reincarnation of Gordon Banks and yet my keeper seems to be a pub side keeper even though his name is David De Gea. Now that I have played more of the game, it is painfully obvious that as you improve, the game finds ways to cheat you in your face. It happens too often that I play a match and have 20 good chances, yet my players seem to enjoy missing them, shooting straight to the keeper, hitting the post or basically having a brain fart in front of goal. I manage one goal among all these missed chances. Suddenly, every ball i tackled or clear comes right back to my opponents. They start to run faster whilst my players suddenly decide that its time to go on holiday. Its actually even worse than last year. I feel cheated when it happens nearly every match and to win you basically have to bombard your opponent, yet they only need one good attack to score. Konami can deny that they script all they want but it is painfully obvious that the game increases its difficulty through lazy programming, i.e. blatantly cheating you. Its a pity cos the game has potential. Control feels much improved and so is the the movement, but I am getting sick and tired of being cheated.

Mo60

@D_S_e_V_e_N: You said your opinion about PES 2019 ,what's your opinion about Fifa 19 ?

BarcaAzul

The demo was outstanding and the crowd sounds in the video are impressive.

For those stuck on the real team names, think about the lack of car brands in GTA V, is it a great game even with Comet instead of Porche?

Plus you can upload a file with them anyway.

Last year it was great to play, the graphics are amazing in the demo this year.

I can't wait to play it!

KiriharaZro

@barcaazul: I think you're a bit wrong with your example, we play GTA V because we can steal, kill, beat, and do everything we can't do in real life, and we don't bother if we do that in a fake car. Maybe if you put Midnight Club II as an example I'll be agree with you, that game don't have real cars but was fun as hell because the point of the game is just run and win the race, is and arcade game.

The problem with PES is that is a soccer simulator, and it needs REAL teams and leagues, think about a Gran Turismo or a Forza Motorsports without real cars, thats the same in here, no point to play it without real licenses.

chemicalegypt

@KiriharaZro:

The argument to play a real sim soccer is only validated with inclusion of real teams is very flawed. One can argue that it helps add authenticity with real teams, but at the end of the day, a real football fan plays football for deep, rewarding gameplay regardless of the licencing. And nothing proved it better than ps2 era pes where everyone would agree with above sentiment. So yeah, licences help, but gameplay is the central aspect, and i give props to this review for keeping it as its central argument.

KiriharaZro

@chemicalegypt: The point is you can play and have fun with a game with good mechanics but if you can't play with your favorite team, that change your experience, you can't pretend (for example) been a champion in a fake league with fake teams. I understand your argument but many players, I included, want the entire experience, I want to grab any licenced team and play an exhibition game or an entire season with my favorite league without pretending "oh this team is Manchester United instead Man Red".

Just think about a football game (NFL) without real teams. It wasn't be the same as much the gameplay was good. Thats my point. If you only care about gameplay, fine, but a complete experience for me is with real teams and leagues.

Ronny411

I just kinda wanted to add that its the real player names and what not, everything that makes up the real team in real life is in the game, the only difference is just the name and the kit pretty much. Which in any mode I believe you could name anything, I would always call my team Outhouse or The sheep goats, while I can get it for like die hard fans of a soccer team, sure, but nonetheless, if compare it to say fifa, Pes does a better job with the players by far, as making them more real, both graphic and behavior on the field, they add so much individual behavior and skills to them as well. So at loss there too, sadly no proper soccer/football game in that regard. Anyway, personally uncertain if I should buy pes this year, I hated that they seem to make the referee more and more like fifa, which was the reason I rage quit Fifa, lol. Cause oh my god, a player can pull of a judo throw and kick you in the stomach, brake your arm and you get a yellow card against you for not dying I guess then.

Sacrilegious1

@KiriharaZro: Luckily there are patches that are very easy to add making the kits, team names and logos real.

BarcaAzul

@KiriharaZro:

Each to thier own I suppose. I play myteam a lot where team names mean nothing anyway, but just a great game of football with other people.

chemicalegypt

Props to Gamespot for bringing PES into light again. It IS better than FIFA in terms of gameplay, and for a footy game, gameplay is first and licencing is second. Glad to see gamespot prioritizing the core aspect of a game in this review. As a footy fan, we dont have much in terms of choices, but between two, i'd choose pes anyday.

As i said before, would you rather choose a racing game with cars with decals of famous/favorite brands but drives like shit ? or a racing game where there are not much flashy stuff but drives like a total joy ? I say the latter. GG gamespot.

DoubleM-K

@reut1954: You should travel to a very high mountain, find a good spot, and jump off it.

alien33

I prefer PES over Fifa, but 9 is a score that should better be reserved for truly great games and not annual releases that are essentially the same game with few improvements.

@alien33: Why do you think annual games don't have any effort put in them ? PES deserves it.

gamingdevil800

But can you roll down the pitch as Neymar when you stub your toe? & visit the barber for a new hair cut every match?

ginxeno

Tried the demo, and as a Fifa fan i must admit that this is one great football game, maybe more than Fifa this year (we don't know yet, must wait till next month), let's just see what FIFA could deliver

Now don't get me wrong, i'm a proud Winning eleven/PES players before, but after FIFA 11, i don't think PES ever that "fun" again to play with

FYI, i always bought PES and FIFA every year, and eventhough FIFA is lacking in gameplay rehaul for the new release, it's more fun and entertaining to play, PES movement (before 2019) felt a bit stiff for me and the passing was sucks like the ball was filled with water

xman2k2

Typo in the review. Put a space after the period and before “At least goalkeepers..”

KiriharaZro

9? for a soccer game without licenses? PES is finished, FIFA took from it the only thing that make it interesting th Champions League.

prodigy84bg

@KiriharaZro: You obviously don't know much about football, do you? The Champions League license basically a fancy skin for a competition. People who are really into football care about the gameplay and that is where PES is king. Also, most of us are capable enough to install a patch that fixes the licensing issues.

pinkfloyd6789

@prodigy84bg: PES is a good arcade game. 2v2 is fun. Fifa has excellent single player manager mode.

KiriharaZro

@prodigy84bg: You really don't get it don't you? the Champions League allowed PES to have licensed teams, now without it PES have less real teams, and by the way it's called SOCCER not "football", we are writting in english not spanish.

If you only want "good gameplay" then I suppose you play with a team in a white uniform, without emblems, patterns or even name because, you, a "people who are really into 'FOOTBALL'" only cares about gameplay. LOL

Now go and download edit packs from PESUNITED and other pages to saturate your space in your console, because thats the only way to play with real teams in PES now.

Bosstones

@KiriharaZro: In Spanish it would be futbol

prodigy84bg

@KiriharaZro: I really enjoy reading such bold statements from people who have little to no clue about a subject. First of all, the number of licensed teams has nothing to do with the Champions League license. Team licensing is down to the licensing of national leagues and individual club contracts. In fact, there will be many more licensed teams in PES 2019 because Konami acquired licenses for the leagues of countries like Argentina, Portugal, Belguim, Scotland, Russia, Turkey and so on.

The term "soccer" is slang for "association football" and is used officially in approximately 5 countries, while the rest of the world calls the sport "football", not just Spanish-speaking countries. But I suppose you are American, so you are forgiven for your ignorance. And since we are writing in English, you might as well capitalize the names of languages.

Where did I say that caring about the gameplay is somehow tied to playing with fake teams? Using patches has always been the way to play a fully licensed version of PES and for people who are so inept that they cannot install such a patch, there is always FIFA. Also, I play on PC and not console, so space limitations don't bother me that much.

All in all, you could barely muster a true statement in three paragraphs, but thanks for the laugh.

KiriharaZro

@prodigy84bg: LOL calm down kid, leagues from Argentina? Turkey? who cares about that teams? oh yeah YOU, the "rest of the world", I think Konami make a poll asking you for what leagues of the world they could include in the game, to be honest the only leagues that are worth to being in a soccer game are Liga Santander, Premier League, Bundesliga, Ligue 1 and Serie A, how many teams from them or even licensed leagues are in PES 2019?

If you say "football" in an american site, like this one, you're talking about the NFL football, not soccer, that's why in the US & Canada the league is called MAJOR LEAGUE SOCCER, not MAJOR LEAGUE FOOTBALL, learn to write in context, but as you said, you're not american so you are forgiven for your ignorance.

When I buy a game I expect that is a COMPLETE GAME, much more if its A SIMULATOR SOCCER GAME, PES now is an incomplete one that cheats me with some teams and mediocre leagues and the rest are FAKE teams. If you are happy with a product that later forces you to download patches (ilegal by the way) to complete your game, well, you're not the smartest people, but hey, you're not american so you're used to have incomplete products and live with it.

salmon71

@KiriharaZro: PES patches are not illegal! They're just not endorsed by Konami.

prodigy84bg

@KiriharaZro: The reason for the lack of licensing of the most important leagues is that they do not have buckets of cash and exclusive contracts like EA. That's the main thing that keeps FIFA on top in terms of sales. If everything was fair and Konami had access to all the licenses, it would have turned out like the NBA 2K and NBA Live series. Gaining an advantage because of the company's wealth is something that annoys me, so I'm perfectly happy to support the underdog, especially when it offers a superior product at the core. Also, I'm glad that I'm not an American, and if supporting monopolies and taking the easy route, while not caring much about aspects that matter the most is the smart thing to do, I prefer not to be smart.

Ah, the irony of talking about context, while the immediate context is the article about a game that simulates the sport that 95% of the world calls football. The context of Gamespot being an American site is secondary.

P.S.

You might want to revise the rules for capitalizing words. It looks awkward when someone whose first language is not English has to give writing advices to such a smart American.

KiriharaZro

@prodigy84bg: Oh so you are one of those SJW that fights against corporate companies that keep in slavery the mankind, and that's why you download pitrate versions of uniforms and emblems because that's your way to fight back against those corporate villains.

Go ahead, keep fighting warrior, keep playing in the right side of history, many will be grateful that you don't buy a game produced for a greddy corporation like EA and instead you buy one from a "fair" company like Konami, yeah, that will help the world and mankind a lot. LOL.

prodigy84bg

@KiriharaZro: No, I'm not a SJW. It's about having principles - something you might struggle to understand.

sakaiXx

Konami just need that EPL license to make the game perfect. Feels weird playing as London FC. Chelsea Chelsea ~ ~

Sacrilegious1

@sakaixx: there are free patches easy to download and install to at least make the team names, logos and t shirts real

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