GamesCom 2009: PES 2010 Hands On Preview - A Return to Form?
Written Wednesday, August 26, 2009 By Lee AbrahamsView author's profile
While FIFA sells by the bucket load come rain or shine, PES has always been considered the technical superior in terms of gameplay and its fluid depiction of the beautiful game. However, that particular fact seemed to come to a juddering halt last year thanks to much improved and totally overhauled FIFA which left its nearest rival looking rather stale in comparison. Can PES show off a few new skills of its own this year or is it destined for relegation?
Thankfully we managed to get plenty of hands on time with the game itself and the first impressions are good, especially in terms of the graphical facelift the game has undergone. The players look absolutely superb and the animations are all spot on, even down to some individual quirks for certain superstars – I still do not understand the Torres thumb sucking celebration even in virtual form. Even the stadiums and crowd seem to have been touched up with a far more accurate rendition than the flat cut out pictures we have become used to in the past, though they do seem a tad static at times even now.
The game seems a bit more fluid than last year and a lot less arcadey, at least to me, so traditional fans may see this as a welcome return to form. The realistic play may also have something to do with the 360 degree control system which seems to be the new vogue in football games this year. While in theory it should allow you a full range of control over your player in practice it seems to be a more subtle addition. After playing through multiple games it seems that you will still rely on the standard eight directional control, with the full 360 effect only seeming to come into play while doing slower, more precise, dribbling. It is also nice to see that the deliberate passing game is once again rewarded, as players can string together flowing moves before bursting through to score. If I had one grievance, it would be that the standard through ball seems to have become extremely diminished in terms of accuracy and speed. Though it is nice to see that the irritating ‘force field’ throw-ins (whereby a defender could only get so close to the player taking the throw) have been given the boot.
The other main tweak in terms of the controls are the inclusion of manual keepers, but fear not as this is a totally optional choice on your part. Should you see a striker bearing down on goal, a quick press of the trigger will see you leap into your keepers shoes, with the ability to block, dive and generally upset the oncoming attacker. It is a system that takes a bit of getting used to but will hopefully provide more than a few stand out moments (not to mention a barrel full of hilarious ones), as who would not enjoy making a crucial save in the last minute when playing with friends? In your face good sir. The newest twist to the general gameplay comes in the form of ‘Skill Cards’ that the better players possess; these can be activated at certain points (or can be present the entire match depending on what they are) to improve your players skills in certain areas. So you could turn on Torres goal poacher ability and he would sit in and around the six yard box waiting to snaffle a chance on goal. Hopefully these skills will provide a nice tactical twist to events, but if you have to physically pause the game to activate them then it could also be a bit of a distraction.
The game includes all of the options you would expect, with Exhibition, Cup, Master League and Online options. The Champions League is once again present, as is the Europa League, but sadly we are still not able to see all of the fully licensed teams. A fact Konami were only too happy to acknowledge as they admit that gamers would much rather play as Aston Villa than East Midlands Village, for example, but with the amount of money thrown at the licenses by EA they really cannot get a look in. It is a shame for players that such a scenario exists but at least the in depth edit feature is in place to make your team a reality.
Finally, we come to the main bug bear of past PES games – the online aspect. In this regard FIFA has been light years ahead but Konami are hoping to stop the rot this time around. This time they will be using centralised Microsoft servers rather than their own equivalent, in a move designed to remove some of the crippling lag issues that have dogged the previous games. There will also be two versus two online play with the usual array of matches and tournaments to choose from. The level of options and choice will not rival FIFA this time around but Konami wanted to get the basics right and ensure the game played as fluidly online as it did in single player. Then they can look to build upon that formula in coming years. Football has always been a social game so it is looking good that the PES online experience will finally deliver. Or at least we hope it will.
Konami also mentioned that there will be ongoing updates throughout the year after launch, so that teams and statistics are kept up to date and the idea of DLC in terms of new content, teams and venues was not ruled out either.
So if you are after your next fix of PES action then get ready, the game is released on 23rd October 2009 in Europe and then 3rd November for the US.