When Pro Evolution 09 first starts up, it looks good. The menus and front-end presentation have a nice, retro look to them that is appealing. Then you realize that the "retro" look goes beyond the menus; the entire game looks dated. Although the series has never been known for mind-blowing visuals, it is really easy to see how big the gulf is between Pro Evolution 09 and most other sports titles. Player models have a creepy, ashen look and move with all the grace of a G.I. Joe figure with rusty joints. Movements are absolutely wooden and, when taken with the passing mechanics, detract from the overall experience.
Jon Champion and Mark Lawrenson's commentary is passable; it lacks the fire that is usually associated with soccer games. It feels really disjointed and lacks a sense of presence. In other words, it feels like videogame commentary rather than the real thing - something you want to avoid with a sports title. The soundtrack doesn't earn many points either.