Pro Evolution Soccer 2009 Review

We kick-off in this review of PES 2009.

Review by Darren Cartledge
Published 31st October 2008

Pro Evolution Soccer 2009

  • Developer: Konami
  • Publisher: Konami
  • Release Date: 24th October 2008

After my first experience of playing the Pro Evolution Soccer games I was hooked becoming an endearing fan of the franchise that hit its pinnacle as an almost perfect football simulation with PES 5, however since that glorious title the series seemed to be on a relegation slide, as EA’s FIFA grew stronger. Now with PES 2009 Konami promised to recapture the magic with an overhaul, but could they stop the slide.

Sadly the answer to that is no! Numerous problems with the gameplay mechanics and presentation of the title mean that Konami has not shot wide of the post as they did with last years game, but seemingly blasted the all important penalty kick well over the bar! Maybe I’m being too harsh on the game, but it was this series that set the standard all those versions ago.

Anyway let’s concentrate on what’s new in PES 2009. This year’s instalment sees the addition of the fully licensed UEFA Champions League Competition in its entirety. You play the competition with your chosen team and have to battle from the group stage all the way to the final.

The biggest single game mode added to PES 2009 is the Become a Legend mode, this allows you to create a player and then build a career for him from scratch. Initially you have to play through a series of training matches to try and get the attention of your manager for a place on the bench and earn experience points that will improve your player’s performance. Once you establish yourself at your first club, bigger clubs will come in for you and you will find yourself playing on a bigger stage challenging for honours and so on. The “Become a Legend” mode is fairly similar to the Be a Pro mode featured in EA Sports FIFA titles, however you are limited to only playing the game in an attacking position. Player development also seems slower then in FIFA’s be a pro mode and you will have to be pretty patient to stick with your career through the early stages. However, on the whole it’s a nice addition to the PES game.

The Become a Legend mode is also expanded to the games online Legends mode, this option allows you to take your created player online and play him in a team with other gamers created players. This is a nice addition, however just like last years game PES 2009’s online modes are plagued with serious lag problems that really hinder its online play.

All the other usual leagues and cup competitions that we have come to expect from the PES series return, such as a slightly revised version of the Master League. Various national and international cups and leagues are available to play some of which are fully licensed such as the Dutch, Spanish and French leagues. Manchester United and Liverpool are this years two fully licensed Barclays Premier League teams.

As already mentioned PES 2009 trips up when it actually comes to playing football matches. The game still offers a pretty good challenge, however once you breach a teams defence scoring is fairly easy due to some dodgy goalie AI that sees them make some bizarre mistakes. They will often drop balls in the penalty area and are easily confused by their own defenders which can often result in you pinching the ball and scoring.

Another problem is with the game passing system which has a very automatic feel to it. Passes go to players with ease and little fuss, also at times the game seems to ignore your directional commands and pass the ball in whatever direction it feels like.

Rather then feeling like a football simulation should PES 2009 has a slight arcade feel to it, Players seem to be able to run constantly without tiring whilst, controls in general feel some what sluggish.

On a more positive note Konami have implemented an excellent corner and crossing system in the game. When you cross the ball players literally try their hardest to get to it, throwing themselves at high balls or sliding in to prod home a low cross. It’s a great system that can make for some stunning goals. Headers are also handled particularly well in the game, so it’s a real shame they weren’t able to get everything right.

Visually PES 2009 is an improvement on last year’s game, but it’s not in the same league as FIFA. Character models are a lot better looking featuring a lot more detail then previous games. Animation and the games interface let the look of the title down, although the game does feature a nicer backdrop then before the games menus are reminiscent of the series PSOne roots. Player animation for the most part is good, however when players dribble with the ball they appear very stiff.

Sound in the game is for the most part is good. The game features excellent crowd chants and a great soundtrack. Sound effects used to represent players kicking the ball are a little tinny and far too loud. The games commentary is done by John Champion and Mark Lawrenson. John Champion performs his role well putting in a natural sounding performance. However, Mark Lawrenson sounds like he’s reading from a script and on top of all that the commentary is muffled by the games other sound effects.

After been a series long fan of the Pro Evolution series it’s sad to see this once great football franchise in its current state. It’s also even more difficult to admit that FIFA has now surpassed this once near perfect football simulation which needs some serious squad rebuilding to escape mediocrity and reclaim its crown.

Review Score: 6.6/10

Please note, this review was scored using our old system. For more information please see our review policy.

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