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WENB PES 2010 Review


Sometimes in football you have to go backwards to go forwards. Setting up play, creating space, or just maintaining possession – at times it makes sense. Football analogies aside, PES 2010 is a game Konami built from community involvement, and created from past achievements. Going back to their simulation roots, Seabass and his Tokyo team have responded to continued criticism aptly, and created a football game that reaches out to all the fans who have followed the series for over a decade.

And its the fans that will see the true beauty of PES 2010, as the game does require a settling in period. Its something that hits you quite quickly when you play your first match, and can be a jarring experience. You might think the delays in movement and player response is just down to you being dazzled by the incredible graphics (which we’ll salivate over later), but quickly you’ll understand its part of the game.

To a seasoned PES player competing with response times is alien, and left me shaking my head when playing the game initially. After a few games though you start to become accustomed to it, and begin to understand certain players need a bit more extra time in completing particular movements. It can be very frustrating, especially with the tough organised defences to break down. Once you’re over that high hurdle though, the game starts to shine and you in-turn start to enjoy the experience. And for those who chose to stay the course, you’ll be rewarded with the first PES on next-gen that ticks all the console-qualifying boxes.

Perhaps hand-in-hand with the response times, the game instantly feels slower, taking a massive step away from its predecessor. This creates a more realistic playing platform, forcing the user to rely less on dribbling and more on build up play and passing. Not to say you can’t beat a man with a timed directional push and a jab of the run button, but there’s certainly a time and a place for those sort of antics – and in PES’s case player specific.

On the subject of directions, Konami have introduced 360 degree movement this year, although most who try the game aren’t convinced on that figure – me and Suff reckon it’s 16/32 directional. Not to discount it’s importance though, as the added scope for player movement is welcome. Compared to FIFA’s it not as obvious or even as fluid, but I’d argue its more influential and effective in PES 2010. Many hardcore players might be reluctant to do away with the d-pad (like me), but spending time with analogue stick for a decent length of time will prove more than beneficial, even if Seabass still prefers d-pad!

But the extra ways to move do become very important in creating space, especially with Konami focusing exclusively on simulation football. With the reliance on passing over dribbling, and the extremely stubborn defenses this year, they’ve achieved their goal. It all can be a bit much sometimes, especially on higher difficulty, but you soon come to appreciate the way things play out on the pitch. Against even the lesser teams you’ll find getting into one-on-one situations extremely difficult, with every team seemingly having an unbreakable defensive line.

Before the red mist set in I decided to tinker with the team play and player cards, and realised how incredibly deep the set-up was – maybe too much for some. At first it was daunting, and maybe against what I believed in. I’m a firm believer in playing a team in the game to how they would in real life, sticking to playing style and formation. Slowly though I realised that with adjustments of simple parameters I could create an obvious impact on the pitch.

Take one of my many Milan derby games. Playing as AC (obviously) I found that the front 3 of Ronaldinho, Pato and Huntelaar were far too compact, making it easier for the physically strong Inter defense to keep in check. Delving into team play I changed the compactness level to make the 3 forwards not hold hands and have a chat about sports cars (or in Ronaldinho’s case what he ate at half time), and the visual difference was instant. I found Pato hugging the touchline a bit more, with Huntelaar peeling away to the opposite side of the area. The change in movement caused the Inter defense to be stretched, leaving gaps for attacking midfielders to exploits – in this case a cracker from Seedorf from 25 yards.

Talking of crackers, the shooting in PES 2010 is still as satisfying as ever. Whilst creating space is a tad difficult when trying to fire one off, when you get that half-a-yard you feel inclined to have a pop as there’s always a chance of it finding the corner. It’s something unique to PES, just like the player and team individuality.

Players feeling like their real life counter parts has been a mainstay in PES, although its been lacking in the past few years. Its certainly much better this year, although response times don’t help slow intricate dribblers. Players like Diego and Arshavin are effective, but lack of pace and power means they can be bundled off the ball easier thanks you not being able to make last minute changes to your direction. This problem doesn’t effect players like Ribery or Messi though, with their pace and dribbling skills meaning you’ll always feel comfortable when controlling them. Adding in the new trick moves means they can be devastating when in the right hands. Other improvements in player individuality is certainly the passing game, with players like Xavi and Pirlo being able to dictate the game from midfield much more effectively. You’ll find those players being able to hit the intended target much quicker and accurately, even when under intense pressure.

Another element of the individual feel of players is their look, and this year the visuals are incredible. From the screenshots its obvious Konami have managed to achieve true nextgen visuals, making it quite easily the best looking football game ever. From player faces, to the kits, to the stadiums, to the grass, to the lighting etc its breathtaking and worthy of excessive praise.

Away from the pitch, Konami have upped their game in a number modes, most importantly in Master League.  Its certainly been ignored over the years, but this year gets a full make over. Lending a lot of features from FIFA’s Manager Modes, you’ll find yourself having the ability to sign up sponsors and upgrade staff to improve things like fitness or negotiating deals. The addition of a deep scouting system, youth players and integrated Champions League and Europa League, all means ML this year is one of the most engrossing one player experiences in football games to date. And did I mention a Player Of The Year Awards Ceremony?

Other modes making an impact are of course online and the returning community mode. While we can’t quite judge online right now, apart from some very positive results from the online beta taking place, we can say community mode will be a big hit with all PES players offline and online. The ability to create tournaments and leagues of varying proportions with the option to edit the set-up completely, AND with it recording all the data is sure to make people want to have those PES late night sessions all over again. Become A legend also makes a return, although the lack of improvements or additions has stopped me spending too much time in there. Its an excellent mode that has many fans, although personally I don’t find the lack of focus on BAL concerning. Edit mode has been freshened up, with new kit templates and up-to-date boots. Theres also the popular inclusion of the ability to untuck players shirts. MP3 importing for chants has been upped, now having 8 per team – 3 of them for particular situations.

While there are so many positives in PES 2010 on and off the pitch, there are reasons why the game isn’t quite hitting the heights of old. When PES was on the PS2 it felt the game had one key saying instilled within development – easy to learn, hard to master. The latest release of PES has reached out to the hardcore, in a way making it unaccessible to newcomers to the series. And with the learning curve higher than its ever been, some may struggle to stick with it. Great for some, but when your competitor is offering out of the box fun and instant satisfaction, more casual gamers will have an easier decision.

Another issue is perhaps the response time in player movement and button delay. While its something that you will get used to, and much improved over earlier/demo code, its not an element I thought would ever be introduced into the PES series. The control set-up of old has been built around an instinctive playing experience, but having to second guess your movement and restrict your playing style to accommodate responsiveness changes that mindset completely.

On a visual front, the animations desperately need an overhaul. There’s some nice touches here and there, but most of the time they look awkward and unrealistic when sandwiched in between some dodgy ones. Back in the first playtest in June I said how important it was for the game to compete with FIFA on that front, and while improvements were made it still lacks any impact or screams improvement.

Other, smaller, niggles begin to irritate in prolonged play too. Keepers, although decent in shot stopping, still spill far too much for my liking. Then there’s the reliance on wing play. With defenses super keen on staying compact, its far to easy and effective to run down the wing and cross the ball for a goal scoring opportunity. The penalty system is better than last year, but doesn’t help itself with the camera staying side-on when taking kicks during the game. The ref’s get a decent amount of flack off me too. If they are not awarding me a stonewall penalty, they’re busy not playing the advantage rule properly. Fouls in general are few and far between, never giving you a sense of realism on the physical side of the sport.

My final gripe, and perhaps biggest, is that the game still doesn’t reach the highs of old achievements. Konami need to understand that while many fans are now playing FIFA because they feel its the better game, most of them still regard the likes of PES 5/6 as the best ever. Fans don’t want a rehash, but a re-imagining of old ethics and mentality, as it’s needed to reinvigorate the series and take it back to the top. While the hardcore will be content, Konami could see themselves fall a little further behind – not because of the competition, but because they fail to understand why the fans fell in love with the series in the first place.

What does actually stop the gap between FIFA and PES widening is the return to simulation, coupled with amazing graphics and the life ending ML. Having these key elements in place, the future is already looking very bright for PES. Community feedback will again be vital next year, but with us starting much sooner the chance for a greater impact and return to greatness is very high.

The good news is that in the mean time we finally have a PES that not only belongs on the nextgen stage, but a game we’ll all be playing until the next version hits. Its about time too.


This review was written based on final PS3 code. For impressions on the Xbox 360 version make sure you check out PESFan‘s review here.

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