So PES 2010 : Wii Edition is with us, a short 7 months or so on from its predecessor strangely called PES 2009 : Wii Edition. It isn’t really enough time to make a dramatic change to an already well received, and completely unloved and hugely underrated(by the masses anyway) videogame. Especially a game that is based on “Old tech”, “Previous Gen” hardware….Is it?
As with all things PES at the moment, it’s complicated.
PES2009 : Wii edition in many respects was a package that offered two games in one. One based on using the Wii remote and nunchuck, the playmaker style of game as it is called, and the other based on old school ‘vanilla’ PES gameplay with the classic controller. In PES2010 Konami have kept this well received formula in place and looked to enhance the experience for the player via a few tweaks to the gameplay and this is where it gets complicated.
Okay, straight to the point. PES2010 on Wii is a great football game but it appears that the few short months between PES2009 and PES2010 have seen the developers put that little bit more love and care into one gameplay style, the Wii’s unique ‘playmaker’ mode of play. You can understand why this would be the case what with the aforementioned ‘playmaker’ method of control being the Wii versions unique selling point, at least in the minds of the developers and I dare say Nintendo themselves. This reviewer however certainly has the feeling that the developers choice of focus for this latest addition to the franchise has left the alternate – and arguably more hardcore – method of playing the game a little underdeveloped from the previous instalment and in some cases highlights some of the games flaws(more on these later) a little more obviously. Maybe it is a minority opinion here but I for one would have thought the games real unique selling point was offering up two very complete, and very different ways of playing the game.
So what is it that makes the game great with all this being said? Well, it is still a well executed PES game and as such the core PES football philosophy – which thankfully lends itself more to the PS2 game – is still very much in place warts and all. The game is clearly built on the PS2 engine but this sense of familiarity is welcome and will actually help veteran PES players who are newcomers to the game on Wii. The visuals, while not in danger of winning any awards for outstanding technical achievement do in fact hold up well due to the Wii’s ability to upscale to 480p, and in 16:9 at that. Animations too are borrowed heavily from the PS2 version if not completely ported over. A special mention has to go to the work done with the camera in wide view – or trad. cam 2 is it known in Wii territory – as unlike other versions of the game on other platforms it is not static and is in fact rather dynamic in how it gently pans in and out of the action depending on where the ball is. Don’t worry, it really is that subtle and is more of a help than a hindrance with it closing in on the action when play nears goal, or when the game spreads out in midfield. The penalty system also benefits from this camera work in that it gently shifts towards goal once the ball is struck adding to the sense of drama. Oh yeah, the penalty system itself is still the best across all platforms with a greater degree of control (you can even place chipped spot kicks) resulting in tense shoot outs. This has to be looked at for the next gen versions of the game.
Grayhound and team have further developed the playmaker style of control and it is nearing its full potential as a result. It now feels less unique (which is feint praise anyway) and is actually inching ever closer to a feeling of full control over every aspect of the game while maintaining the sense of freedom in play and strategic/tactical options the core mechanics had always offered with the ability to move multiple players since the games first appearance on Wii in 2008. Little things like allowing you to control a single player with the nunchucks control stick in attack and defence situations, plus the ability to alternate between dribble speeds when in possession of the ball and not relying solely on point or drag dribbling almost (but not quite as yet) give the players a sense of individuality missing from the playmaker style of play before. Passing is surprisingly crisp and very freeform in nature with your imagination (something that the game rewards in spades if you tune into its way of thinking) being the only barrier in creating lovely moves and stunning goals. The overall feeling is that the game played this way is now trying to encompass some of the benefits of playing the game with a pad and they have come so close to pulling it off. With motion sensor control coming to the next gen consoles in the next year Seabass and the team behind the 360 and PS3 versions of the game could take some inspiration from Grayhound and his team if it is something they are seriously looking at.
The stand out new feature of PES2010’s playmaker style is the new set-piece control mechanic which allows players to take a behind the kicker view that presents them an arrow going from ball forwards towards goal. Tilting the remote left or right results in the arrow bending so as to illustrate the balls projected curve, with upwards and downwards tilt dictating trajectory and dip. Another option is that of being able to ‘knuckle’ (excellent term!) your kick. Should your player have the ability to strike a dead ball in this way it is handily indicated by the on screen arrow glowing with a rainbow effect. Knuckling the ball essentially puts a wobble effect on the strike reminiscent of the kind of strikes Juninho Pernembucano and Cristiano Ronaldo are capable of in real life, which is a neat little touch and something that classic control and the next gen versions could do with implementing and is yet further proof that Grayhound has some great ideas for the franchise. Overall the new set piece control is excellent but perhaps a little too effective when it is a master set piece taker taking the kick, but I guess that is the point in many respects – to make set pieces feel that little more threatening.
There are a few things that hold the game back in playmaker mode and give the feeling that you are missing something. First of all is the implementation of tricks which still feels rather unwieldy in there control mapping and in some cases are performed randomly by the code depending on the player in control. Elsewhere, shooting –although offering a degree of manual control – still lacks finesse and I mean that literally as there is no finesse modifier which disappoints. If you were to be really harsh you could say that the depth of control offered in both attack and defence (especially defence) can be overwhelming and somewhat complex in the heat of battle that it may alienate many players but thankfully the way the multi layered level of control is implemented it allows the player to play the game effectively with just the basics. The easy to pick up, difficult to master mantra still holds true then.
The main new addition to the gameplay that spans both control methods is that of ‘Play Energy’ which in essence is a momentary stamina gauge that accompanies the traditional stamina meter. The theory behind this is that it affects a player’s strength and mobility on the ball and in the tackle, with each and every twist, turn and sprint seeing it deplete rather quickly. Hold on to the ball and try to do too much with a player when in possession and it makes him easier to dispossess while also affecting his ability and accuracy in his execution of shots passes and alike. It works pretty well, as it does add a layer of strategy and sense of urgency to proceedings not to mention that it does act as a rather effective anti-spamming device in that huge mazy dribbles are kept in check. Perhaps a lack of on screen representation of how Play Energy is taking its toll on a player is missing with players often looking fine until contact is made when the gauge has depleted and them just falling down through the minimum of contact. It is also a little inconsistent in so much that players felled as a result of them draining there Play Energy can be rewarded with free kicks a little too often. The implementation of the Play Energy feature is welcome but still needs some fine tuning you feel. Make no mistake about it though, and I am talking to you Mr. Seabass, what Grayhound is trying to do here with the Play Energy system is something that can make a massively positive impact on the franchise in future. Balance I am sure will be a challenge, but even the option to turn it on or off initially if or when it is first introduced will help any teething.
The game alas, is not without flaws and it is a tad unfortunate that they seem to present themselves more clearly when playing the game using the classic controller, though they do also apply to the game as whole truth be told.
First up are the goalkeepers. They err a little too close to the next gen versions unreliable keeps if not quite as anger inducing which is probably down to the game being tighter in it’s defensive side of the game. Shot placement also helps them to some degree as they rarely have to deal with efforts going down there throat but this doesn’t completely hide there inconsistency between the sticks. The concern here ultimately is that the PS2 version of PES2010 aside – which still has possibly the finest keepers to be found in any football game out there – all other versions of PES2010 this year have the same problem, and it is a worry that this is a design choice on the part of the developer. They really could do with going back to the PS2 games keeper AI and seeing what makes it so balanced as in many respects the series week keepers are proving to be something of an Achilles Heel for the series.
Something that also irks is how the game flows and responds using the classic controller. It could be this players own experiences and constant play of the PS2 version of the game which retains a wonderful flow and variety in animation while offering up some physical elements to play into the bargain, but the Wii version certainly seems that little more rigid in movement and missing the on screen physicality of it’s older brother. Now, the game does largely flow well but there are little moments when transitions and response are not quite right and it can feel a little too restrictive as a result plus the strict adherence players have to positioning can grate especially when measured against the freedom of tactical play offered up by the playmaker mode. These are the things that were being eluded to earlier in this review when it was suggested the game played via classic controller set up does not feel as refined or complete as the game does when it is played with the playmaker set up. That intensity of play that can be found on the PS2 version of the game is also missing to some degree and even the Play Energy feature doesn’t quite cover it up(still a welcome feature however)though the playmaker method of control does disguise this well where the classic controller method does not. A missed opportunity then regards classic controller play this time out and something that Grayhound will hopefully look to address in future instalments.
The major gripe regards the game comes in the form of edit mode. Now don’t worry, the edit mode is as thorough as it was in the PES2009 Wii version of the game and the ability to right the wrongs of license woes is still there. The game even has a full selection of licensed boots on offer to go along with the generic designs taking the total up to twenty seven, something the great PS2 version is missing. However, and it pains to say it, the games save consists of one file and as a result of that file being home to not only edit and game save data but also online data it means the save file cannot be transferred to SD card. The upshot of all this is that the strong and loyal community the franchise has misses out on sharing there creations without soft modding of the hardware which is frowned upon by Nintendo and opens up a minefield if you don’t know what you are doing. PES needs this community input and it is a major disappointment that the Wii version is subject to such restrictions. Hopefully this will not go unnoticed in future Mr. Grayhound?
Finally, we move on to game modes and this is were the game shines (mostly) again. It should be noted immediately that the Wii version of the game comes equipped with the same number of teams the next gen version, so all those extra teams in the other leagues section are present. It is odd the Europa League itself has not made the transition over if the teams have it has to be said.
The usual cup competitions and leagues are all present as is expected and the Champions League makes it’s second appearance on the Wii version of the game. Champions Road makes it’s return too and is as ‘Ultimate Team’ shaming as it always has been. Free as well. The most ‘videogamey’ mode present in the package Champions Road may be, but it is for all the right reasons in that it draws you in and isn’t minus an impressive level of depth too and you can see were some of the next gens revamped Master League ideas are sourced. Player development and acquisition are mini games in themselves with player development being particularly expansive. Without doubt the Wii versions ace in the pack and a game mode that would be more than welcome in the next gen versions of the game.
Master League itself benefits from Konami’s decision this year to ensure the Champions League license is utilised better, if not quite to its full potential across all platforms and thus finds itself with the competition integrated into proceedings. A couple of blips though are the omission of a Division 2 to traverse in your quest for glory, and that the mode is minus some of the managerial depth of the next gen versions which is odd considering Champions Road has similar features present.
My Team, which is a Mii based mode new to the series this year allows you to play various game modes(apart from Champions Road and Master League) using Mii characters from your Mii channel and look to develop your team and make store purchases. Silvestre’s shorts? We got em’! By no means a deal breaker, the My Team feature looks merely to utilise the Wii’s…erm…Mii’s cross game functionality. It is hard to fault it’s inclusion but at the same time hard to triumph it.
As far as online performance goes the Wii version is predictably – and unfortunately – akin to playing Russian roulette with a controller though it has to be conceded not quite as deadly. Pressing that button to start a game really is a leap into the unknown with the possibility of player teleporting and all round erratic performance lying in wait. It could be hardware restriction or that most Wii users opt for wireless connectivity but it is disappointing none the less especially when the playmaker mode of play really can offer up such freedom in play and a multitude of play styles and it would have been fascinating to see how it would have translated into technically sound online play.
One online function the Wii version does get spot on is the DLC that updates squad rosters. Available on release day it has swelled some clubs squads (Merida at Arsenal for example) and has all transfers up to date from what could be seen. It does however reset any edited data you may have had in place before performing the update itself but with it being present as of release day shouldn’t cause the same potential problems as the next gen versions delayed squad update.
So there we have it. PES on the Wii continues to surprise and comes across as something of a labour of love of Grayhound and his team at PES/WEP. PES2010 might not be the finished article as hoped but it does expand on its previous outings on Nintendo’s system and in such short time too. The playmaker style of play that can only be found in this version of the game is evolving nicely with each release and is no longer merely a ‘unique’ method of playing a football videogame but instead is being refined in order to offer an experience hard to ignore. To go along with all this it does bring some fresh ideas to the franchise as a whole (and football games in general) that the next gen version could learn from and there is some comfort to be taken from the fact that someone with Greyhound’s vision and ambition is part of the PES development cycle, and long may this continue.
8/10 – And a very high 8/10 at that (we don’t get into decimals or half scores here at WENB) A slightly incremental feel to the games progression since PES2009, a lack of freshness and refinement to classic controller play, goalkeeper niggles, and edit mode woes stop PES2010 on Wii from being a classic. The short 7 month wait between PES2009 and PES2010 on Wii should not be discounted however and progress in this short time has certainly been made. If you have a Wii as a second console in your home your curiosity will be well rewarded and if you have a Wii exclusively you will be getting the best football game for the system by some distance. Well done Grayhound and team.