Let's hope EA gave Konami enough money for aftersun cream when they took the Champions League license away from PES, because the Japanese developer will surely be suffering from one nasty burn. Losing the official UEFA branding hurts, but (shock, horror to FIFA's hardcore) it was never the only thing PES had going for it.
Boot up the demo for this year's game and you'll see that to be fact. PES, even without the army of licenses EA are building up, is still one hell of a solid footy title.
This writer recently had the chance to sit down with the demo, play a few matches, fiddle around with the options and even dive online for a few kickabouts with others trying the game out. Although the experience was, as it usually is with beta code, a mixed bag, there was fun to be had.
Across the five matches played and the few hours of time spent with it, PES 2019 was a refreshing delight in some areas and like slipping into an old pair of shoes in others. Is this the sweeping change that'll wrestle control back from EA? Probably not.
Is it worth finding out for yourself? Definitely...
Konami's marketing line this year is "The Power Of Football". Perhaps they should give themselves one big pat on the back and change it to something like, "The Power Of Art Direction", because the engine looks sumptuous this year. OK, so it has for a good few entries now.
Nonetheless, the pre-match views players are treated to jump off the screen more than FIFA's ever have. Of the two stadiums included in the demo, Barcelona's Camp Nou and Schalke 04's Veltins Arena look utterly marvellous; it says a lot about Konami's attention to detail that the surrounding areas in Gelsenkirchen reek of atmosphere, perhaps more than those in Barca.
It remains to be seen if generic grounds will be able to drip with the same hue-soaked scenery as the official ones. For now though, do yourself a favour: fire up the demo and bask in the aura of some seriously well-rendered football stadia.
By the time the cameras swoop inside the ground itself, the place feels huge. That's a major plus point for presentation.