There’s no denying that the FIFA franchise has taken the crown over the past three years or so when it comes to which is the best football game. I’ve actually been annoyed at how PES has stood still over the years but finally, Konami have completely overhauled the game to make it a much better game. And because it plays more like FIFA, PES fans may perversely not like these changes even though in my opinion they’re for the better.
Play an exhibition match and straight away you’ll notice the great player models and improved presentation. Everything looks better and when it comes to commentary thank God they’ve taken Mark Lawrenson’s camp comments out. Instead, they’ve replaced his quips with Jim Beglin’s voice although it’s definitely been recorded separately to Jon Champion’s vocals and sounds like it’s been done on a cheap USB microphone you can buy in Curry’s Digital.
When the whistle blows it’s then that you really notice a difference in the pace of the game. The pace has been slowed down a lot to get away from the arcade-style feel of previous games and make the game far more lifelike. Thanks to the 350’ passing system and power gauge you can now pass the ball into space and not necessarily straight to the feet of the nearest player. It’s frustrating at first if you’re used to the usual way of playing as the ball can be kicked out of touch a lot. With practice though it’s possible to be very accurate and pick your opponents off with one killer pass through the centre of the park. Thanks to some better AI from the defence it’s now not possible to just charge up the centre or the side of the field and score a goal. You now have to be patient and build your attack as you must in the real game too. Players also have more momentum so won’t just stop on a dime to turn and will clatter into each other if running at pace. The whole game feels a lot more like a real game of football which, unfortunately for Konami, is three years too late after FIFA’s run away with not only this style of gameplay but all the official teams and licenses.
PES does have more licenses this time around including the UEFA Super Cup but if you’re from the UK you probably won’t really care. Liverpool have now returned to being Merseyside Red and there are still players in teams which have been sold. At the time of writing this review the game’s not out yet so I suspect (and hope) an update will fix this issue on the day of release.
If you also like to have a bit of fun and not take the game too seriously you can also spend points you earn from playing on customisable outfits. So you can give your players pumpkin heads or green hair if you like or make the football a barrel and other fun stuff. You can also customise actually players too so if you don’t like the fact that Messi’s growing his hair again you can give him a buzz cut or cover it up with a cap. You can also create a player and use the modelling tool to try to make it look as much like you as possible (or someone you don’t like and then try to injure them on the pitch).
When it comes to managing your team in menus it’s nice to see that’s been overhauled too. You can now drag players into position using a cursor similar to how you would on a PC to be very thorough or you can set simple management formations for offensive and defensive styles of play.
I’ve become a bit of a PES hater over the past couple of years because it seemed to be getting no better year after year. This year they’ve really pulled out the stops to deliver a great football game with plenty of game modes on offer including of course the Master League and Become a Legend modes. If you really don’t want to play FIFA just because it’s FIFA then this year’s PES effort is definitely worth a look. I haven’t played FIFA 11 yet but I suspect that game will still be my preferred title when I get my hands on it soon.
Well done Konami, PES 2011 is back up there with an impressive 8 out of 10.
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