PES 2009

PES 2009 Review for Xbox 360

On: Xbox 360PS3PCWiiPS2PSP

Complete overhaul of the successful football series.

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7Out of 10
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PES is back, but how does it compare to FIFA 09?
PES is back, but how does it compare to FIFA 09?

PES is back, but how does it compare to FIFA 09?

Perhaps, if EA hadn't upped its game so considerably in the last two years, we wouldn't notice the deficiencies in Konami's PES football engine. We'd still be enjoying it oblivious to the harsh reality that all PES fans are going to have to brave like a shot to the face on a cold winters day: PES feels as if it's out of ideas. There. We've said it.

PES 2009 is undoubtedly better than last year's disappointing effort. And yet it's got a lower review score. But how can that be? It runs smoother, there's no slowdown whatsoever on either the 360 or the PS3 version (check out our HD video comparison of the two games here), and, finally, online play actually works with no teleporting, hardly any lag and an impressively speedy quick match option (with two versus two support, no less).

Have we lost our minds? No. Of course we haven't. The reason why PES 2009 is being given a harsher time of it this year is because of the quality of its bitter rival. FIFA 09 is so good, not only from a graphical point of view, but from a basic gameplay point of view, that playing PES 2009 after a FIFA 09 session makes you realise that, actually, there's not much about Konami's game that couldn't be achieved on the PS2.

Player animation is rotten. Players run about with their arms pumping back and forth as if they're robot men. The eight way movement is as wooden as ever. The passing and shooting animations are archaic. The commentary is delivered with as much quality as an episode of Hollyoaks. The soundtrack has been cribbed from a wedding DJ's vinyl collection. The player faces look silly. A magical barrier surrounds the throw-in taker. Keepers take forever to distribute the ball. Having speedy wingers cross the ball in for headed or volleyed goals is an overpowered strategy. Month old transfers have been ignored. Half the teams have made up names and games often descend into hilarious pinball battles as the ball whizzes about as if a cat's plaything (one goal we scored against a friend - where a shot slowly rebounded off the post, onto the keeper's shoulder and into the net, had us crying tears of laughter).

The game plays similarly to last year's disappointing effort

The game plays similarly to last year's disappointing effort

None of these criticisms will surprise PES fans. This is the way PES has played for a good few years now, and this is the way it plays once again. We've forgiven PES these deficiencies in the past because, well, FIFA was no alternative. But now it is. In fact it's better. It's impossible to ignore. PES doesn't play a real game of football any more, as it once proudly proclaimed from the terraces. It plays something else, something different.

Admittedly there are some areas where Konami is clearly trying. The Be A Legend mode is at first glance a complete rip off of FIFA's Be A Pro mode, but those in the know will be aware that it's actually the Western implementation of Winning Eleven's Fantasista mode, a feature that's been running for longer than FIFA's alternative. Here, you create a 17-year-old player (you can scan in your face via Web Cam if you fancy it) and bid to become captain of your country. You start out, however, playing for the wonderfully named Babilayna CF versus Athletic Club Salsabie, but you're being watched by a number of scouts from top clubs. After the game you're offered a contract at a top club (no matter how bad your performance you're picked up). We were offered terms with three clubs, but Man City (sans Robinho of course, this is PES after all) seemed like the best bet. From there, you need to impress during training matches to make the bench, and then make an impression when brought on as a substitute. It's an interesting mode to mess about with, and we have to admit that it's something that we can see a lot of players pumping many hours into, especially if they're bored of the now tired Master League, which once again makes an appearance without any significant changes. That you can take your created Legend online is an added bonus. But, ultimately, we can't see the mode replacing the traditional one on one PES match.

The addition of the Champions League license sounds a lot better than it actually is. You'd think that Konami's securing of the best club competition in world football would mean PES 2009 would have the official license for all of this year's participating teams, but it doesn't. Only a select number of clubs are officially licensed, once again. Disappointingly Liverpool FC and Manchester United FC are the only officially licensed Premier League teams on offer. The illusion that you're playing a real Champions League game is shattered somewhat when Manchester United are going up against London FC. Yes there's now a full edit mode, which means that those of you with the time and inclination can right all those transfer wrongs (of which there are many - Shevchenko is still at Chelsea and Berbatov is still at Spurs, for example), and correct all the club names, but really it's a pain in the arse we shouldn't have to suffer.

Online play works, which is great, and there's still a great feeling when you score a cracker.

Online play works, which is great, and there's still a great feeling when you score a cracker.

And yet, despite all of the problems, there's still fun to be had from PES 2009. It's incredibly hard to nail down exactly why this is, but it's there nonetheless. Perhaps it's due to the fact that the pace of the game has been slowed ever so slightly, and that keepers are actually a lot better than in previous versions. Whatever the reason, a screamer from 25 yards is as magic as it always was. It'll still get you up off your seat and screaming your heart out. This just about saves the game from filling our hearts with bitter disappointment. That and the fact that online play actually works, which is absolutely great. PES might be feature light in comparison to FIFA's packed offering, but it still offers a fun game of virtual football. And, inevitably, some people will always prefer PES' gameplay, which is fair enough.

Still, we can't help but feel that there's going to be thousands of PES fans who embrace the power of the dark side this year, on account of the fact that it simply doesn't feel like Konami is putting much effort into the so-called 'next-gen' versions of PES these days. You might even say the PS2 is the lead platform, when you compare the strides forward between Konami and EA's efforts. PES 2009 is a good game, but the times they are changin', and we're afraid that Konami is being left behind. Time for a reboot, Seabass.

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chris davies's Avatar
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chris davies

this is the worst football game i have ever played. a massive dissapointment from pes. i have been a huge fan of pes for years and when i played my first game online i nearly cryed. absolutely rubbish game. will not be buying another pes game. waste of money. going to trade it in tomorrow.
Posted 21:26 on 05 November 2008
EX-PESFAN's Avatar
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ps the 16th I refer to was the 16th October.
Posted 15:55 on 05 November 2008
EX-PESFAN's Avatar
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For me gettin Pro Evo was about the online play.

And that is the area that is it once again weakest!

I went online Sunday night (2nd November) and was still having problems. Konami said that their servers where going to be switched on the 16th. So to me if sunday night was the best they had to offer, then for me that's not good enough.

There is a big difference playing this game online and offline. Offline its is playable but still in my mind not where it should be. Online it no less than pants!

If you go back and tried the demo version of pes 2008 i'm sure you'll see that was the same case then. When you start playing pes 2009 you will see what I mean about it being essentially the same game with a few bits bolted on.
Posted 15:54 on 05 November 2008
Demetri's Avatar
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Ex-Pesfan, why have I read, from more than one source, that the online mode has been fixed? I live in the US and the game does not come out for another week so I don't know first hand. I've played the demo over and over on the 360, the game to me is nothing like PES 08. Control over players is terrible? Huh? Did you mean for FIFA the player control is terrible? Don't get me wrong, I've played the FIFA demo, it's a good football game but you don't get a thrill out of it like you do from PES, and I just can't bring myself to pay $60.00 for FIFA. Even reviewers that gave PES a mediocre score have said the one area that it excels is in PLAYER CONTROL.
Posted 21:43 on 03 November 2008
EX-PESFAN's Avatar
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Finally got my hands on a copy and can only say what a waste of money. Its a complete shambles that they have released the same crap as pes2008.

I've got FIFA 09 and now PES 2009 and have to say in all honest if you want the best footy game for "online" ( for xbox360) gaming then save your cash and get PES6.

FIFA 09 have come on leaps and bounds. Graphics are better, real team and player names. Alternative controls are spot on. But the game play is still off, the control responses are a little slow for my liking and therefore lets the game down.

PES 2009 - I was absolutely gutted, Played my first game and lost 5-6? In a 10 min match previously this wasn't possible unless you were crap. The defence is poor.. control over players is terrible. Still lagging online... to me it looks like the same as 2008 with a few more bits added on. As a offline proposition its probably just about playable but if your hoping for online gaming look elsewhere!

I've been a PES fan for many a year... I was angry after last years crap, and livid after playing the latest instalment. Konami you've offical made me your EX!

Posted 09:19 on 03 November 2008
HEAS29's Avatar


What a Joke!!!!!!
i had football games since World cup Italia 90,
Pes 2009 is far better than previous versions, anyone tossing up between Fifa and Pes 2009 , i would reccommed Pes 2009 , ive played both and "Yeah" i suppose Fifa is good if your a 10 year old and like all the real club names and logos but apart from that Fifa dosent even come close to Pes 2009, and the review??!!! well i think you have not given a fair review, 7 what a joke!!! as far as football games is there better??theres only two games on the market and yeah Fifa is good for the graphics (well sort of)but game play Pes outways Fifa all day long and certainley the best since the original release.WAKE UP AND SMELL THE COFFEE!!!!
Posted 15:00 on 31 October 2008
Coria1976's Avatar
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Well I live in the US and I am still waiting for Nov. 11th to come around so I can finally buy a copy of PES 2009. So needless to say I have not been able to play this year's version of the game. What I was able to do is rent a copy of FIFA 2009 and after one day with it I decided to return it. I have always been a fan of the PES series and I never realized how important the ball physics in that game are until I played FIFA. 95% of the time it seems like you are kicking a helium balloon, so no matter how bad I see the reviews for PES 2009, as long as it has it's awesome realistic ball physics I will buy it. I'll take the time to change players and team names so that I can have this game customized.
Posted 00:30 on 31 October 2008
danny's Avatar
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had fifa 09 played it for a day b4 boredom set in same goals scored all the time and felt no connection to it at all got pro evo cheap menu screens and sounds like an 80s arcade machine but it plays a great game of football and surely thats all that matters not andy gray thinking he god. go evo.
Posted 17:01 on 30 October 2008
skapa's Avatar


I think that pes 2009 is worth it. I's harder then 2008 and so a lot of people think that it's crap. I was disappointed at first but then I watch the guide video and tried to play much patiently and it's great. I was able to beat any team with Slovakia at hardest difficulty in 2008 but this year I was forced to start at amateur level ... but from match to match I'm better and better and that is importent to me. I don't need some arcade game ...
Posted 14:38 on 30 October 2008
Junyang's Avatar
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There always something about PES that anything can happen on the pitch. I can play the same match for hours but yet exp so many different emotions thru out the game. but having said that.. i do agree that its time they bucked up in terms of the off field aspects of the game. Rock on PES!
Posted 08:26 on 29 October 2008
Chris's Avatar
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Good review and I agree with most of it. Not sure about mentioning the players' names, team names', kits etc. though as there are always option files knocking about online. Admittedly 'someone' has got to take the time to do them but believe it or not some people enjoy doing it!! Which means us lazy buggers always get their stats updated :)
But the rest of the review is spot on. It's still enjoyable to play, especially multiplayer. But this year is good news for footy fans as they at last have a choice of good footy games (or just buy both!).
Posted 21:02 on 28 October 2008
rsg362's Avatar
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I agree with your review...whay the hell have they been doing at Konami...a top games company since late 80's. I spent my money in hope they would come back all guns blazing....what a waste of time!!!!! Trade in 4 Fifa if u value your time!!!!!!!!!!!
Posted 00:35 on 26 October 2008
ex fifa fan's Avatar
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ex fifa fan

Listen guys! Pro Evo 2009 plays better than Fifa 09 and is a lot more fun. I've played Fifa for years but this year i had to join the PES bandwagon. Fifa 09 is much the same as Fifa 08 with minor changes which actually makes the game less enjoyable to play. Change may make things different but not necessarily better.
PES 09 plays faster and is much more exciting than Fifa 09. The graphics are very good, the characters are more robust than Fifa 09's matchstick men and there's much more control over the men in PES. The players in PES 2009 have more skills than those in Fifa 09 and there's loads of tricks and moves to learn and master which adds to the longevity of the game.
Don't be misled by the review. PES 2009 is better than Fifa 09. Take this from a former die hard Fifa fan.
Posted 20:08 on 25 October 2008
smudgemonkey's Avatar
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just to update you all that following my previous comment i have been playing pro pretty much constantly and it remains the nuts........
Posted 17:38 on 24 October 2008
Anonymous's Avatar
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If your not bothered about "good images" as you put it,why waste your money on new consoles? Also, to say fifa is for beginners just proves your a fanboy!
Posted 11:58 on 24 October 2008

Game Stats

PES 2009
Out of 10
PES 2009
  • Plays a fun, often hilarious game of football
  • Online play works
  • Dated visuals
  • Feels out of ideas
Agree? Disagree? Get Involved!
Release Date: 17/10/2008
Platforms: Xbox 360 , PS3 , PC , Wii , PS2 , PSP
Publisher: Konami
Genre: Sports
Rating: PEGI 3+
Site Rank: 1,908 1721
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