Console Corner: eFootball PES 2020 review

Lionel Messi is back fronting Pro Evo
Lionel Messi is back fronting Pro Evo
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  • On: PS4, XB1 & PC
  • Rating: 9/10
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New Pro Evo takes early lead in eternal FIFA battle.

Another year brings that age-old, omnipresent question of the modern age of mankind... what is better this year FIFA or Pro Evo?

Lionel Messi is back fronting Pro Evo

Lionel Messi is back fronting Pro Evo

Well I can’t answer that right now as FIFA 20 does not launch until the weekend, but it is safe to say eFootball PES 2020 has taken an early lead and it will take some effort from FIFA to claw it back.

So what is new for the 19th installment in this once unrivalled series? Well there is a name change for starters with the addition of ‘eFootball’ in the title, a nod towards the ever-growing online gaming space with a focus on PESLeague and eFootball Pro tournaments.

Lionel Messi returns as the cover star of the standard edition after eight years away while the man Messi admired as a young player, Ronaldinho, features on the cover of the legend edition.

Eighteen leagues are fully licensed in the game. All the teams in these leagues feature real players, kits and logos. Two new league licenses were also obtained: the Italian Serie A and the Brazilian Campeonato Brasileiro Série B. Unfortunately The Premier League and Championship along with the Spanish La Liga still appear as unlicensed leagues in the game.

At first it felt a touch plodding and methodical. But after a few games I found myself totally in love in a way I have not felt about Pro Evo since the halcyon days of Collina and Adriano on the cover.

Damien Lucas, gaming columnist

They do, however, feature real players. At the end of the day the licensing issue will stick around like a bad smell, probably forever. It is pointless pretending this element is not important to gamers. IT IS. And therefore people will continue to download option files to get all of the official kits and badges anyway.

The important question as always, though, is how does eFootball PES 2020 play out on the pitch?

It is clear right from kick off that last year’s effort has been carefully, considerately improved in line with gamer feedback.

The result? One of the most polished, intelligent, realistic, satisfying and enjoyable football games I have ever played - and I have been playing since the dawn of console gaming.

Lionel Messi is back fronting Pro Evo

Lionel Messi is back fronting Pro Evo

I do hate it that business deals and lucrative licenses stop us - the fans - being able to just enjoy our teams and leagues in the fullest. It sticks in my craw massively as I know it does so many of you.

But away from all that this is the purest football simulation money can buy. For another week at least!

I cannot see FIFA 20 beating PES 2020 on the pitch this year. That is not to say it won’t. But having played the demo this just feels so much more controlled and true-to-life.

At first it felt a touch plodding and methodical. But after a few games I found myself totally in love in a way I have not felt about Pro Evo since the halcyon days of Collina and Adriano on the cover. It looks great and the match action flows beautifully. Clever play is rewarded and it is not just about out-sprinting the opposition with your fastest players. The wide range of goals I have scored in my time playing so far has surprised me and continues to offer a great sense of achievement every time the ball hits the back of the net.

Lionel Messi is back fronting Pro Evo

Lionel Messi is back fronting Pro Evo

Defending - one of my big Pro Evo bug bears for some time now - is infinitely better thanks to more varied computer opposition AI, increased physicality and new animations.

Master League could have done with an injection of new ideas to keep things fresh but remains very much the same. That - and the ongoing licensing issue - are the only negatives I can level at this masterpiece of a game.

Lionel Messi is back fronting Pro Evo

Lionel Messi is back fronting Pro Evo