After taking what can only be best described as a long break from videogames (I am still playing them, just not with the same passion as a few months ago) I decided to dip back into PES2010 with a bit more vigour recently expecting nothing more than a half decent, but flawed digital kick about before bed.
I think the break has worked to be honest.
Read on to see how some time of reflection and detachment has reaped rewards and has inspired a sense of optimism for the future of the series.
It isn’t just the break from ‘in the zone’ videogaming that has helped however, but also the dust settling after a turbulent last few months in the PES landscape. I say PES but in many respects it applies to FIFA too. Both games have there highs and lows and it is proved for me anyway that only once the pandemonium that surrounds the games release had calmed down and I could reflect on the game in a far more relaxed, accepting manner and I could open my mind up to what was on offer. The result has been that I am enjoying the game for the most part.
Does this mean that the games inherent flaws have all but evaporated as a result? Of course not. I still on occasion – though not as often as was the case a couple of months or so back admittedly – loudly proclaim that Seabass is a huge, thundering backside of a man for including that god-awful turning animation for players with less an 80 for dribbling. Honestly, that particular ‘move’ is as useful as a glass trampoline or deciding that by taking your shoes off and throwing them at the sky you can push the clouds away.
What has certainly changed on a personal level is how I am choosing to play the game. No longer am I playing in a naïve manner trying to convince myself that the impossible (within the current coding of the game at least) or down right broken will in fact be possible or conquered with just a little more effort and concentration on my part. It is somewhat at odds with how I used to play PES because, well, in all honesty PES on PS2 – although offering a stern challenge – was a forgiving and rewarding experience. Anything could and usually would happen in classic PS2 PES but it erred more on the side of rewarding the player or at least only frustrating in a way that you honestly believed you would get it right next time as the coding married with the excellent balance of the controls inspired you and made you more determined.
PES2010 on next-gen however is a game not blessed with those assets that set the PS2 game apart from its then – and even more recent – competitors. This all being said though, the next-gen version of the game does have a trick or two up it’s sleeve that although somewhat underdeveloped suggest Seabass and team might at least have a vision as to how they want to see the franchise progress.
I like how patience in possession is rewarded for one thing, particularly in the middle third. I like that going backwards is the best way to go forwards(if that makes sense) Now it could be argued that these prolonged, patient build ups jar somewhat with realism and potentially make the game feel a little too pedestrian and I would happily accept that to some degree. Not every team is capable of maintaining possession like a Barcelona for example and play in neat little triangles in the middle third always seeming to have a man free, but what I do think that PES gets right is portraying the importance of possession and patience(when required) in the real sport. It strikes me that it has gotten lost in the next-gen that these are just videogame representations of the sport and not Match of the Day simulators, and that sometimes they have to take a little artistic license over the reality of playing or even watching the sport we love. As such maybe these long spells of possession that the AI or you, the player have – while not visually representative of the sport – do engage the player and having them ‘thinking’ football. It has to be conceded that it is perhaps not as balanced as it could be, and frustration can boil over due to technical short comings in coding and control response that take this out of the players hands, but there is a philosophy there I feel that is worth noting as a positive.
Another part of the game I have grown to appreciate is the long passing. Before, in previous instalments, it did not feel like you had that much control over power and placement and while placement is still sometimes is an issue, the same cannot be said for power. You can play some lovely short little lofted passes just about anywhere on the pitch that can make the game look (and you feel) very slick indeed. It hints maybe that a Konami are aware of the need to introduce more openness to play.
It is here were the game not so much shines but gives a hopeful chink of light at the end of what feels like a very long tunnel for the franchise. While PES2010 may not have got it completely right this time, and that admittedly this player could be being perceived as having to ‘engineer’ a challenge, I do think there is an excellent philosophy of digital football bubbling underneath the surface that can be realised. To go along with this greater variance in patterns of play and tempo needs to be presented to the player. If PES can merge its philosophy with the right balance and a smattering of technical prowess it could offer up an experience truly worthy of the name in this generation and hopefully we get that much longed for experience in PES2011.