Can Konami reclaim the crown?
Format: PS3, Xbox 360 (version played), Wii, PC, PSP, PS2 Dev: Konami Pub: Konami Out: 08/10/10 Players: 1-7, 2-8 online
This can arguably be one of the biggest head-scratchers for sports gamers. It’s that old question which keeps popping up over and over again… FIFA or PES? So you say you’re a football fan, you have a favourite team and you want to play as that team under its prized name and kit… think again, because, unfortunately, PES is still yet to acquire full licensing for club names and strips. Yes, this is an aesthetic drawback, but that’s all it is.
One thing that has stood PES head and shoulders above its rival is its realistic player control and intuitive gameplay dynamics. This is where PES has yet again succeeded. Konami have introduced a sprint and fitness bar alongside a power control gauge. These are two key features which maintain the definitive realism of PES. Gone are the days where you make single man rushes through the spine of the pitch and simply press a button to score from within the box. Anyone can do that! And it seems PES is determined to do something about it. The AI has significantly improved, and you as the player must set up game strategies and exploit pitch space to gain the advantage. One-touch football is much harder to recreate, as player movement and dribble control is individualised and much more realistic.
However, it seems Konami has shot themselves in the foot with this feature. You might say only football purists would respect this feature, because at times you will get frustrated, and that blue vein in your head will no doubt throb under the stress of becoming a football perfectionist. It gets worse if you’re a newcomer to PES. My advice is stick with it and when you do get the hang of it, a great sense of accomplishment will come over you. Another handy feature is that of skill linking, whereby you can choose your favourite tricks and hot key them into a sequence for added convenience.
On the upside, the menus and video transitions are truly mesmerising and some of the best aesthetics I’ve seen in any game this year. During gameplay, a neat statistics pop-up screen appears offering in-game information. That, tied with the enhanced player graphics, makes it seem like a TV match, especially in the Masters and Champions League modes, where everything seems polished up. Although the most prized players such as Ronaldo and Tevez are truly realistic, there are others which look like generic Action Man faces. At most times the crowd offer a competitive atmosphere, heightening the sense of realism. This time round the commentators seem to have at least one brain cell, and are able to make evaluative comments based upon the game. But there is still some way to go before you can play a full game without muting the commentary.
So in an attempt to better its rival FIFA, it seems PES has concentrated on what it has done best in its previous titles: player realism. PES has gained ground on FIFA but it still lacks that certain pick up and play value which FIFA possesses. If you enjoy playing games straight out of the box, then FIFA is for you, but if you want a challenge and a different take on the football genre, PES should be at the top of your list.