Pro Evolution Soccer (PES) 2020: A Mediocre Entry For This Konami Franchise

One of the main reasons anyone would invest in a yearly sports series is for the updated team roster, improved AI, and new levels of gameplay that add to the realism of the game. In this regard, PES 2020 is a half-hearted attempt at bringing the long-existing series in line with its FIFA counterpart. Not that this game is a bad entry, in fact, it eclipses its predecessor in many ways. But the crux of the issue here is the gameplay and player vs player components that take away from the overall joy factor of this release.

The Pros

As soon as players download PES 2020, they are engrossed with an ever-expanding roster of professional clubs from around the world. The variety of these teams were something that rendered last year’s entry almost unbearable to play. With over four hundred newly licensed teams added, real-life player goal celebrations, and realistic goalkeeping difficulty, PES 2020 does progress the series in better ways than before. Such an expansion is commendable and is definitely a factor that does not go unnoticed.
Licensing partnerships with such mega-clubs as Juventus, Manchester United, and Bayern Munich, add a whole level of realism that previous entries could never achieve with their phony pseudonyms for such popular clubs. Even the level of goalkeeping has vastly improved as you are now less likely to score cheap goals or have the ball pass right through a defender’s legs as if they were paper thin. There definitely is a sense of realism in the way a goalie parry’s out a shot or a defender slide tackles a long-range kick from an attacker that was not present in the 2019 release. This aspect of the gameplay infused this title with a level depth that is greatly missing in other soccer titles.

The AI is sharp and highly responsive during highly stressful offensive situations. In many matches, especially online, forwards will perform a ghost run all on there own without having to press the Y button on the remote so they remain ahead of the defensive line. Much like in a professional match, goalies will charge at a striker during breakaways without hesitation which again makes one feel they are watching a true to life Champions League match. The jerseys and graphics are top notch and rarely miss a beat in terms of intrinsic value. The absence of pervasive micro transactions, new gameplay modes to choose from, and accurate free kick set ups are all a welcomed touch in a genre that lacks so much differentiation nowadays. All this would seem to propel this title to greatness and yet it merely reaches the level of mediocrity that its competitors so commonly achieve.

The Cons

One of the main concerns in this game is the actual gameplay itself. Ultra sensitive controls, overly card happy referees, and a complex defense mechanic render this release nearly unplayable. During many instances one presses the soft tackle button to stop an offensive play and immediately a foul is committed. Enemy AI’s go down way too easily and when combing this with an overly enthusiastic referee who gives yellow and red cards at the slightest infraction, the gameplay suffers greatly. This hampered the joy factor of each match and it became distracting to the flow of each online match.

Linking up with an opponent online is also painful to endure. A single match using even the fastest modem can take forever. Matchmaking feels more like a chore rather than a fundamental feature in this game. PES 2020 is a broken game in many ways and having such obstacles to connecting online renders this entry a dated feel. The commentary is uninspired and out of touch with the action on the field. With the announcer claiming many times that players are left off the hook by the referee and then seconds later you are issued a red card. Such a minor detail should have been fleshed out better before the game’s release. In the end, such aspects of PES 20 is a mismatch of progress and regress that could have been so much better with a smooth coat of polish and greater production time.

The Verdict

PES2020 is a fine achievement for the franchise and helps propel the series forward in many ways. The expansion of professional clubs, new game modes, and improved goalkeeping make this one of the best soccer games this generation. But in the end, these achievements are overshadowed by the disastrous design and gameplay choices made by Konami. But it still is worth the investment as other games in the genre rarely push themselves as much as this game does.

About Anthony Frisina 79 Articles
Anthony Frisina is a graduate of the City University of New York-Brooklyn College with a BA in Political Science with a minor in Psychology. After finishing his undergraduate degree, Anthony went on to attend Brooklyn College's Film Academy and Writer's workshop program, achieving an interdisciplinary degree in Screenwriting and Film theory in the Fine Arts. Transforming his love for classic American cinema, Anthony went on to adapt a number of his own works into different mediums, including his well-received Western novel The Regulator. Anthony likes to spend his free time writing articles for magazines and periodicals that cover a wide range of topics, from science fiction to popular culture. As a screenwriter, Anthony has had his screenplays featured at numerous spec script writing competitions across the country where he one day hopes to write the next great American film.

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