For those people that were hoping for a return to the simulation greatness that once propagated the PES series, this game will surely disappoint.
The new art style of the menus is a nice switch from the classic styles of the last several games, and KONAMI is quick to point out that they finally wrestled down a license from someone with the introduction of the Champions League this year.
Unfortunately, this is where the changes end. Once beyond even the highest level menus you'll notice the bland standard of years back are still the foundation of this game. If you stop here you can take away the perfect metaphor for the rest of this game. Pretty on the surface but shallower than Tara Reid.
The UEFA CL intros a pretty, and even the players have had a nice graphical over haul, but it still isn't anything to write home about with FIFA pushing towards photo realism every year. Within seconds of the first kick off you'll notice that the animations haven't changed since PES6. Running looks unnatural as the animation loops endlessly.
If the problems ended there that would be fine, but the true staple of the series, the game play, feels like you should be dropping in a new quarter every time you allow a goal. PES2009 should never be categorized as anything but it is, an arcade football game. The "predictive AI" will only manifest itself in trying to run in the same direction of you with three defenders while completely ignoring everyone off the ball. Your own back line is of the same mentality and breakaways are an 6 to 7 per match occurrence.
It's not uncommon to go from a 10 goal scorcher to a 5 red card draw against identical opposition on the higher skill levels. The frantic play of balls in the box will leave you enraged as your back line flounders around like MLS players attempting to clear the ball.
All in all this game is a serious let down. Only Tottenham fans can truly appreciate this much of a let down year to year.
The 2009 PES has made some nice changes. Game play is a little harder than last version. Better chances to intercept passes. The scoring is still hard, corners even harder, but to me it makes it more realistic. I have played the new FIFA and liked it. But I think the core part of the game play is more fun than fifa. The addition of Champions League adds to to dynamic of the game too. I give it 2 thumbs up.