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New Year, New Hope


After an eventful 2010 in the world of PES, I think it is time to reflect as a means to look forward to what I am sure will prove to be an equally eventful 2011 and a year that could prove to be a landmark for the franchise.

Before going any further allow me to extend my apologies for being somewhat absent from the frontline of late; a mixture of festive period, work, family and even other gaming commitments had taken their toll as 2010 came to its end. Now suitably rested and focused I am ready to do it all over again!… with a little extra spring in my step as well it should be noted.

The ‘spring’ of which I speak is not just born of a much needed break but also last year’s developments in the world of PES, which culminated in the release of a game that for as much as it proved to polarise opinion, arguably done so for what could be perceived as being the right reasons. Many will rightly venture forward with the solid undeniable fact that PES on next-gen has consistently polarised opinion among those who have an interest in the franchise, whether that interest is rooted in optimism or downright cynicism, but the discussion and debate leading up to and after the release of PES2011 seemed to take a different course from years gone by. It mirrored the resultant game in many respects in that it too was a very different beast to what had come before and along with it demanded a little more thought in order to fully understand its merits. I guess what I am saying here is that the discourse amongst the community – as well as the gaming press – was not merely ‘’It’s Good’’ v. ’’ It’s Bad’’ in nature which is not to say that such exchange did not exist entirely, just that it was a little more complex due to everybody finding their feet with PES’ new chosen direction. Looking back, surely such uncertainty and complexity is more of a good thing than bad, or at least it is a welcome problem to have. We never get it simple us PES fans do we?!…Yet that does not detract from our will to kit up and take to the field all over again, hence why the events of last year have me more eager than the norm to get the ball rolling.

It would of course be naive to not embrace the fact that PES2011 didn’t click with some because of some well documented shortcomings which proved ultimately too much for a number of players in both the short and long term. Yes, steps were taken to address some of the more glaring issues that beset the game out of the box and while this player would not suggest that it was merely a case of papering over cracks – PES2011 is a great, if temperamental game and more than mere foundation – such fixes were probably not going to convert those unconvinced by what they had already experienced.

Temperamental is probably a good way to describe this players and I am sure others experiences of PES2011; one minute it really is the beautiful game, the next it regresses to a form of digital anti-football. My own take is that the good outweighs the bad more oft than not but there is an uneasy feeling when I boot up the game in that I am really unsure how it will play out. Such uncertainty as to what awaits is actually not a bad thing and in fact is an asset in a football game when you take into consideration PES’ past glory. The problem is how this uncertainty/randomness manifests itself currently in PES and it should also be noted that PES is not alone in next-gen footy games when it comes to this, perhaps albeit for different reasons as I am sure the lads over at FSB will pay testament to.

Hope From The Current Past

Having been blessed with the ability to turn to the Wii version of PES2011, which has been happening rather regularly of late, I think I have an idea as to what might be the root of the problem when it comes to PES on next-gens apparent bipolar nature. I think it lies with the stability of the game as when I boot up the Wii version I am not troubled by such concerns as PES2011 on Nintendo’s system is a technically very stable game. That is not to say that it is the perfect football game (though in my opinion the best footy game of 2010) but it functions and flows with a sure footedness that is missing for me in both PES2011 on PS3 and indeed EA’s offering on next-gen. I have been challenged on my opining that the Wii version of PES2011 is a more stable and ultimately satisfying offering than the technically gifted sales juggernaut EA have delivered or Konami’s own markedly improved offering on next-gen and while it goes without question that the next-gen games look to do and offer more regards technical assets, gameplay options and presentation, they are games that lack the confidence in execution that I find with the lower grade tech driving PES2011 on Wii. Maybe having less hardware muscle to work with ensures a sharper focus on basic videogame fundamentals, resulting in something that ironically ends up offering more. Loading up and playing PES2011 on Wii inspires a far more positive sense of the unknown which is rooted squarely in what can be conjured by it’s solidity and stability if that at all makes sense. It does to me!

There is always a huge sense of optimism for PES’ next-gen future when I load up the Wii version as before me is a game that serves only to remind that Seabass and co. now how to craft a footy experience par excellence. For as much as the Wii version of the game as won me over, it is also true to say that new ideas and innovations brought to the table in PES2011 on next-gen have done so as well, with the freedom of play now on offer being the stand out and while the Wii version is not short of a thoroughly satisfying passing game itself, it has to be conceded that it does pale in comparison to the solid foundation and possibilities to be found with Konami’s new vision on next-gen. What the next-gen version really could look to capture from the Wii version along with the already mentioned technical stability is how the game truly comes alive in the final third. Translate these assets over and marry them up with the new innovations and mechanics premiered in PES2011 on next-gen and PES2012 could be a truly defining moment for the series.

With the franchise now subject to more fan feedback and input than ever before (keep that feedback coming folks!), Konami’s approach on and off the field of play in 2010 provided much encouragement and sets up 2011 and with it PES2012 rather nicely.

We wanted change in many areas regarding our beloved PES in 2010 and we got it. 2010 was merely the sketched outline on the broad canvass, however. 2011 will be when the colour, detail and texture are applied.

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