UPDATE: Sorry, put this up with the wrong score. Updated with the one that was actually printed in the mag. Every year die-hard Pro Evolution Soccer fans go through the same "new PES" rigmarole. We eagerly stick it on, and instantly hate it. Slight changes in the gameplay and the general feel of the game cause us all to claim it's "broken", but a few games later we're used to the changes and love it again. Unfortunately, this time we're still waiting for that moment.
The sad fact is that Pro Evolution Soccer, in our opinion, simply isn't as good as last year's offering. Whereas FIFA has built on last year's game by offering a truck-load of improvements and new ways of playing, all of the new modes and gameplay features in PES this year come with some sort of catch or negative aspect attached.
The main big feature Konami is pushing this year is its newly-acquired Champions League license.
Unfortunately it seems that it must have cost a pretty price, because two of the biggest leagues in European football - the Italian Serie A and La Liga in Spain - are no longer licensed as they were last year.
Considering the Champions League mode is just a basic tournament with no extra features other than a Champions League-themed intro and victory animation, we know which we'd rather have. This now means PES 2009 only has two licensed leagues - the French Ligue 1 and the Dutch Eredivisie - neither of which are as highly regarded as their Spanish or Italian counterparts.
Then there's the "Become A Legend" mode, designed to rival FIFA's "Be A Pro", where you control one player and try to take him to the top. The problem is that while EA's offering keeps you in the thick of the action, in the PES one you feel like a spectator most of the time.
You tend to just wander around because you can't make teammates automatically pass to you, and if you get sent off or dropped, you have to watch the rest of the match. Yes, it's realistic but in gaming, realism should never get in the way of fun.
The basic act of playing the game is still enjoyable enough, but with FIFA adding loads of great new features like 10 vs 10 online multiplayer, this seems like a step sideways instead of forwards.
Not good enough: we expect more from PES
- Same enjoyable PES gameplay
- Remains fun in multiplayer
- Extremely deep Edit mode
- Less licenses than last year
- 'Legend' modes are disappointing