The classic game returns to the classic console, and we take a quick look at the proven formula.
It’s a weird feeling playing PES PS2 these days. Nostalgia gets the better of us sometimes, especially when reminiscing about older games, only to come back and realise things weren’t as good as they used to be. And it’s easy for this to apply to PES. A generation of consoles have past, crisp HD graphics and motion capturing for more realism. But as many fans of this series know, the PS2 days were the pinnacle, and the gameplay (as PC modders adhere to) creates timeless classics.
A proven gameplay formula, and a way to play game became engrained in our minds, meaning each year a familiar feeling encapsulated each iteration. The same distant fundamentals are true within PES 2012 on PS2, and something Konami have stilled failed to nail on this generation. While we change on a yearly basis with PES on PS3 and Xbox, the PS2 games are as consistent and familiar as always. And it’s a stark reminder to those who claim PES hasn’t changed since those high days that things have changed, and not always for the better.
The gameplay is as true as always. The same ethos of player individuality and control, with passing and moving as good as your memory. Where the game excels, and where the flaws of the nextgen versions really ring true, is the visual consistency which in itself impacts how you play. It’s responsive, but with restrictions to your movement depending on where you are positioned and where you are facing. The 8 way movement is now dated, but provides simple understanding of what you can and can’t do. Then there’s the obvious, yet understated tackling angles. No contain or the need to back off skillful players in this game, or extra layer of complexity to create an easy feeling when defending. A good defender, with solid stats, is a monster even if he’s not as quick. The physicality of a player creates a larger circumference, meaning a stab away might not be enough to evade him and create space. This becomes an important battle against the better teams, as even with Messi skinning the likes of Vidic isn’t an easy equation of jink and run. Adding in realistic turning circles means the game creates the element of individuality without the need of consistent results.
The passing is another element that needs recapturing in more recent times, with that extreme realism ringing true from the moment you press the button. Random outcomes with less skilled passers and slower ball speed means you are always trying to focus your attack through your better players. Passing the ball around with Spain is a joy, but more obvious than what we have on nextgen. Playing in a team of playmakers means an instant issue when passing with the likes of Ramos and Puyol. It’s a clear deterioration of speed and accuracy, and means you’ll appreciate those little things much more. Not as flowing or as fun as PS3 and Xbox 360 versions, but more realistic and in it’s own way more satisfying.
The keepers are also a joy to behold. A variety of animations which arguably are more than what we have these days. And that trust and consistency with their behaviour, and consistent visual satisfaction.
Taking visual satisfaction further, the passing animations are varied and look much (MUCH) more realistic than current gen. No weird animations with the ball going to an inconceivable place to how it was hit. Same goes for player interation with the ball and other players. Sure there’s clipping, but nowhere near as what we have now. The visuals in general play out much more realistically, and create a better playing experience.
Where the game takes some steps back, or perhaps where it fails to improve, is the shooting. It’s less punchy than before, as always predetermined to it’s detriment. Shots are often scripted although using R2 creates a more freer outcome in the direction. Perhaps this is needed to balance out the way keepers fail to make mistakes as often, and maybe a step worth taking.
Game modes in general are exactly the same as last year, and fail to welcome the redesigned look of ML. Lack of leagues (no Portuguese league) also means it will always remain an inferior product. And who can blame Konami, focus is certainly with the current consoles, and who knows how many more PS2 versions we will see from now.
To round off, PES 2012 PS2 is a lesson to many. One group need to realise PES has changed dramatically from the PS2 era. And one group need to understand not all it did was the answer to a perfect football game. HD remastering isn’t the answer. Saying that, Konami need to also realise they need to look back some more to move forward. Recapturing the essence of the games of old is key, and while they are moving forward, fundamentals continue to be missed year on year.
A lesson for all.
PES 2012 on PS2 is available in stores now.