Absence Just Makes The Heart Grow

Well, it is that time of year again, frantically checking for news, bootleg footage of gameplay, basically anything to get the hype going again.

I assume you have all seen the official videos of 2012 and maybe some not so official videos, I am not an official PES blog or even a news outlet for all things Pro Evo so I won’t post them here, like to basically have a place for discussion and opinion to help the days go faster until release.

I suppose I can talk about the videos though, one thing that hit me straight away was the loose look of the control, the instant sharp turns that did not seem possible without holding the right trigger last year, what was worrying especially from the bootleg footage was the ease in which some less skilled players in real life seemed a bit too easy to manouvre, a bit too skillful, to me it looked as if the famous ‘individuality’ may have been compromised to give a more appealling nature to those who just like to play football games ratjer than live to play these games.

Goalkeepers causing concern, for that I say ask the Greyhound team how they resolved even worse issues with their superior and sublime Wii game last year.

Now look back through the blog and you will see my reaction to FIFA’s run trigger function, in short I hated it, it is now in PES, in short, I still hate it.

The run trigger function is not optional either, it is in there, it is a temptation to use it when needing a goal, it would feel like cheating for me, when I mentioned this to someone who is management level at Konami I was told my reasoning was daft, fair point, let me say why though I hate it.

I love Pro Evo, I love jubilation of scoring a goal, I love shouting at the screen, I hate shouting at the screen, I love the unpredictability of the AI and hate it, I love knowing that the reason Ordaz and Huylens are not making runs or playing centre forward properly is because they are simply crap, their movement is crap and I need to struggle through to the first transfer window and try to gain enough points to buy somebody less crap who can do a half season job until the next transfer window.

What this one function does for me however is remove all that and possibly give the unfair advantage for a terrible player to possibly react faster than the defensive AI, this is all speculation by me until we see how this is reacted to but at the moment I hate it, I want my tactics, subs and player/team AI to decide who scores a goal, not a cheap trigger.

Same goes for the new Active AI that has been implemented, again it looks great but does my team always overlap or just certain players with that particular player card, is it my tactics? The tactics were deep in 2011 and played out well, but for me I could not get my players to make runs efficiently without leaving too much space, many have played it longer than me though and assure me it is deeper than that, I switched to the Wii version as you have read previously and still play that after eight months, congratulations on being the first game since PES6 to achieve that.

Look forward to your opinions on this.

PES 2011 Wii : Ugly has never been so beautiful

Ok, so far over the past year I have spent close to a thousand pounds on Pro Evolution Soccer, starting last year with the Wii version of Blue Samurai, mostly excellent let down by the poor keepers, then the trip to London, trains, overnight stay, nice food etc just for four hours play with a game I was already in the Master League Online beta, then the Playstation plus subscription to play the demo, the preorder of the 360 version I still kept and now this past week the purchase of a Nintendo 3DS which was impossible to ignore due to a new PES game on that format.

However on Christmas eve 2010 my prayers for a classic version of the beautiful game were answered but it was not so apparent at first.

Now for me this game is not about playing with a wiimote, somersaulting across your room like an idiot so I also invested in the Classic Controller Pro.

So you load it up, it is underwhelming, as I got to find out the same songs play in the same order each time you load, simple menu screen, cannot change buttons on the controller either, I usually map the slide tackle button to the shoot button so this was a major change after years for me to adapt to.

My first task as always is to go straight into an exhibition game using Merseyside Blue, game starts up, its pretty dull and ugly, PS2 graphics made for the widescreen era, it’s a tough adjustment to play this again after the next-gen versions, the game kicks off, it is too familiar and I thought I made a mistake in buying this, I mean I played this game to death for years and I have just wasted money on something I can play in hi-res with authentic patch on my PC, so played a few dull games and it just took my enthusiasm away, mainly 0-0 draws.

So thought I would start a Master League on Top Player to try to find out if it had any tricks up its sleeve, initially after 5 games I bottom of the league, could not score, conceded silly goals from corners, very frustrating, but then it occurred to me, this is more like the old days except I had not learned this game yet.

Now to be honest the reason I held off so long in buying this game was the issue that has blighted the series on the Wii console, the goalkeepers, I assumed they dumbed the keepers down to compensate for the difficult control scheme they had introduced with the wiimote and nunchuk method, like it was tough enough to even reach the goal in the first place so your reward for this was an easy goal, so anyway, I read reviews on metacritic, there was only around 6 reviews and nothing mentioned the keepers, the forum buzz was non-existent at the time, so it was a risk and one I am glad I took.

For me the highlight of keeper ability was PES6, to my surprise they are on that level, it is incredible what improving this one area has done for the game on wii.

Another thing is the general AI, the opposition never give you anything easy, they seem to be aware of the passing lanes and stand in the way, you will struggle to put some moves together until you make the space for yourself, they have a good but not overbearing physicality and they seem to just be constantly aware of their positioning, you never see anyone just standing still, they are looking to pick up players or closing you down, it is frustrating at first, no, you are rubbish at first, the fact that every player just feels unique, whether it be how comfortable they control on the ball, how heavy they feel, what range of passing they can do, so you need to get to know your team’s strengths more than the oppositions weakness at times.

As the season progresses the game seem to reward you by opening up and almost in a weird way unlocking more randomness in the games, animations in the passing and shots you have not seen before, the way the games flow for you and against you just add to the tension, you never feel safe at 2-0 up, even against the lesser teams, I actually find a West Brom harder to play against than a Man Utd, as they keep things tighter and hope for a set piece, whereas the better teams attack you more and leave space.

A massive mention has to be the transfer system, it is the same as the older games but more strict on what you can buy, I was critical of the 360/PS3 versions for having a scout decide who comes to you rather than team prestige, on this even after winning the Champions League twice I still could not buy a Ronaldo or Messi, I was only 14th in the Team Ranking, it has to be like this in the next gen versions, it is realistic and makes you think about who is more suited to your team style, for example I have Fellaini in midfield, his stats are not great but he is a wonderful strong player who can bulldoze into challenges and win the ball more, I cannot replace him with a smaller flair player as my team style would not be as effective.

Another thing which I did not like about previous Wii versions was the auto zoom of the camera as you got towards the goal, here it sits back as normal, showing you the full picture.

If I was to sum up when I knew this game was so special was when I thought my console was dying, unemployed I was trying to figure out how to afford a new console just for this game, thankfully it turned out to be the channel on my amplifier that was at fault so I just moved it onto another channel.

Now amidst all the positivity it does have some issues, one being when running onto a loose ball if you press pass the player will not make an effort to pass it, he has to control it first before you press the pass button.

Another issue is something which I believe is prevalent in almost every sports game but no less infuriating, some call it scripting, some call it superhuman AI, I call it a lot worse when it happens which is the unstoppable goals, you just know when the AI is going to score and you cannot stop it, usually off a corner which is where I think the majority of goals come from but it is the sheer feeling of being cheated, like your man is a ghost who looked favourite to win the ball, same happens for reaction times during stumbles and panic in the box, your player just does not seem to respond to button presses at times, leading to a goal for the AI, in real life this can happen but I sometimes think sports game can find a little more subtlety in finding a way to break you down.

Edit mode fans will not be happy, you can do everything you like to your own game but Nintendo will not allow SD card use on this to import an option file, there may be a way to do this if your console has been compromised but not sure.

Also you can only ever have one Master League game running on the console, you overwrite your old ML game if starting new.

In summary I was over the top with my write ups after the four hours in London and then a week with the 360/PS3 versions at home, they have their good moments but to me are too exploitable, this game however has had around 300 games and over four seasons played on Master League which is obviously why the review is four months late, for me it is the natural successor to PES6, albeit a little worse looking if coming from PC, its the same type of game with AI improvements, 360 dribbling and the randomness that can amaze even in a 0-0, I did find it a little easy after four seasons with the team of great players I built up, but the beauty is you still have your Master League default players to then turn into world beaters, something I am enjoying now.

PES 2012 – Hopes and Dreams

Hello all and happy new year to you, apologies for neglecting the blog but hopefully I can post a little more now.

As you are aware I did have the chance to play PES 2011 early and post my impressions here, I was actually invited to a meeting to discuss PES 2012 back in September but sadly the meeting was cancelled, I still emailed the ideas to Jon Murphy though and he said he has fed that back to Japan HQ, please note it was a bit of a rush as I was only given a couple of days to think up some things so alot of the ideas required expanding on in the meeting, so just thought I would upload my initial thoughts based on the ML Beta, 4 Hours full game play and my experience of football and football games in general, as always happy to hear feedback.

PES 2012 – Gameplay Improvements

• New animation never done before in football games but quite common, the sidefoot volley lob, think Berbatov vs Chelsea Charity Shield 2010 (discuss in meeting how this would be triggered)

• Move for wingers or skilful attackers in the right situation to be able to first touch lift a bouncing ball over an opponent (discuss more in meeting)

• Less scissor kicks outside box

• Tweak player off the ball running to stop players standing still (but not implement a player run feature, discuss in meeting)

• More crossing animations, player specific, this could be done with Beckham etc in the older games, also more types of crosses, outside foot, driven

• Defenders to have more intelligence depending on who they are facing, back off Aaron Lennon so he doesn’t sprint past, force players onto their least preferred foot

• AI man marking your team, if you have a dangerman, like a Scholes, Arteta, Messi then the opposition would employ someone to stifle them

• Long passing by star players such as Fabregas, Scholes, Pirlo, Xavi, Iniesta to be more low, driven and pinpoint

• Important goals – team celebration rather than player, so the team will drag the player down to the ground and dive on him

• Be able to tweak your formation to a point where you advise how many players you would want to counter attack on a given move, think Germany with Ozil, Podolski, Muller all running in parallel

• Remove the Select (Back) and Button press to trigger tactics and make it more intuitive (discuss how in meeting)

PES 2012 – Graphical Additions

• The referees behind the goal on European matches

• Kits to become wet and muddy

• Camera men (Behind Goal) to follow action (not if it affects framerate)

• Crowd to become more interactive (example – when ball is out for corner cut scene shows 3-4 fans encouraging corner taker – or not being so nice)

• Subs warming up (possibly behind goal or always in corner only if it does not affect framerate)

• Ball boy behind goal (not all arenas) but will celebrate if home team scores

• Manager on sidelines – from the calm to the hyperactive

• Fans reaching out for players if celebrating near stands

• Stadiums to reflect the team popularity, ie Wigan, Blackburn, empty seats, Man United, Chelsea, full stadium

PES 2012 – Sound Additions

• More real time atmosphere – if you are losing or not creating chances the crowd is subdued, if you then fire off a shot which goes for a corner, expectations rise and crowd roar encouragement, playing poorly at home and only creating a couple of chances then the crowd boo at half time/full time, also if you lose or draw against a team ranked worse than you.
Crowd to appreciate tackles more by applauding them.
Crowds to be louder when there is a big cup game or an important game. (discuss more in meeting)
Muted away goal celebrations (discuss more in meeting)

• When an opposition player injures one of your players the home crowd will boo his every touch for either a period or the rest of the game, the crowd could also boo a player that dives or a referee that does not give a foul (the commentary could also point out the referee is getting stick), what could be possible is for crowds to also boo players from the start (discuss more in meeting)

• More localized goal celebrations, whether scoring a goal in England, Italy, Spain, Germany they all have different ways of roaring when a goal goes in.

• Stadium atmosphere to reflect the team playing in terms of how much do they sing, are they subdued until the team plays well (discuss more in meeting)

New Idea – PES.tv

• From a offline gallery record upto 20 seconds (less in slow motion) and upload to the new in game interface

• You can rate the goals in terms of stars and browse these in terms of score

• Friends on your list can message you in this new interface to advise they have a new video for you to watch

• After an online game you can save the highlights to Hard Drive and record parts from that so as to not to delay a match or infuriate your opponent, this could really have some excellent bragging rights in the community

• Konami community representative or community itself to view the goals and decide on the goal of the month earning a prize

PES 2012 New Idea Master League Hardcore

The following would be massively appreciated by the “Hardcore” fans, a mode which will last them until the following release and they will appreciate it as they will also have a say in how the players are rated.
Just to pop some bullet points in here to make it less boring to read, these are the fundamental changes I propose (please note this will be an extra mode, ie difficulty if you like to keep the casuals happy, but I think even they will come around).

• The possibility of four divisions, still have not figured out yet how to populate these
• Start in a stadium limited to say 5k, either your created stadium (max 5k capacity) or one premade for this mode
• Stadium is sparsely populated and will remain so until you start winning games
• Crowds affect revenue, no longer win money for winning games
• Merchandise plays a part now as well, win more games, more shirts, scarves etc sold
• If players are playing well, scoring, assisting, high rating their value will rise
• Players from divisions above will not want to play for you
• Players priced like real life, Rooney is 80m, Ronaldo 80m, DJ Campbell 1m etc (more on how we monitor real life prices below)
• Live within your means, spend what you earn, if your wages are in the red, your chairman will kindly remove from any transfer budget you may have
• If you spend big and lose games, expect to be sacked
• If sacked apply for club at bottom and start again
• 15-20 season cycle, even if you make it to the top, you probably still cannot sign Messi, Rooney etc but can scout the next big thing and sign them young.
• The choice to buy players or improve your stadium, improving stadium will probably benefit in the long term but are you that patient?
• Choice to move to a new stadium if you have amassed a fortune
• Top players such as Rooney, Ronaldo, Messi will only ever move to a similar club, Inter, Man United, Real (not your team though as you do not have the prestige)
• No Overall Rating for players, just the spider charts and good old fashioned number crunching
• Once moving up divisions if you can afford them better players will come to you but beware as this could affect other players in the same positions form arrows temporarily
• If players do not see action, their form arrows are severely affected
• Use the same formation and other teams will suss it out through scouting, so you need to adapt constantly through formations or in game tactically
• Change clubs through job offers after considered success

PES 2012 – New Idea – Indoor Football

• 5 a side indoor football with a pitch like they use on Masters Football, ie goals sink into the boards

• Using classic retired players past the age of 35 or generated players so maybe no licensing to get around?

• Slow pace to the game – sprint button is disabled

• Reliance on first touch and control

• Passing to be short and slow – long pass is disabled

• Tackling to be light although sliding tackle will be enabled

• To ensure a slow pace the fencing will remove most of the sting from the ball

• AI assistance to help with automatic subs on tired players if needed

• 4 vs 4 online

• High scoring games, keepers to be a lot slower on shots they have to dive for but capable up close

• Emphasis on waiting for the opening with passing left to right always encouraged to open space

• No offsides

BRB

Hello readers, just to let you guys know I have not updated the blog in a while, some of you will know that I have been unemployed for a while now so I am just trying my hardest to get the right job, once I am sorted I will hopefully be splashing out on a capture card and really expanding the blog, but for now need’s must and I will keep you updated.

Thanks for reading.

PES2011 FULL GAME IMPRESSIONS

Ok, I was going to do a full review as I have had the game just over a week but I think to do a full review would mean to test all the modes and I simply have not had the time to do that, so I will give some updated gameplay impressions and a review of the Master League as that is what I have spent all my time on.

Upon receiving the game I decided to go on Professional Level to start with as it always provided a good test in the past, I was just playing exhibition matches and using lesser teams than the demo afforded, it actually feels like a brand new game when you have not got the overpowered Barca and Bayern to control.

Eventually a day later I decided to take Merseyside Blue into the Master League on Professional Level, I am loyal to David Moyes (who isn’t in EA’s game so I don’t need to pay £50 when I say his name) so stuck on a variation of his 4-5-1 formation and kicked off, immediately it felt tough using the default tactics, nobody seemed to be supporting Saha up front and Cahill was about as useful as an ashtray on a motorbike, after two dismal defeats I had to try and make a change.

I changed the Player Support and Support Range up to 15 each and upped the pressure, the next game the difference was apparent from the start, whereas I had a straight line of midfielders staying with their own half now when a full back or defensive midfielder receives the ball the midfield and forward line move forward immediately, so much so my wingers struggle to keep themselves onside, I read on forums about players not making runs and asking for a “run button” like in FIFA games, when you look back at this blog to possibly the second post I made I stated I would hate this in a football game and it should be the players doing this from their own stats, I still feel that and will argue all day about how to change the mindset of your players.

To bring the “make a run button” debate to a close on this blog I will say this, does Paul Scholes, Pirlo, Xavi run with the ball while telling three or four players to make a run before deciding who to pass perfectly to? No, it is a players individual instinct to move into that space.

The passing has already been discussed and praised on this blog, the golden rule seems to be tap pass to send to a team mate or hold pass will send the ball on almost a manual route, one feature I do love however is the Manual long pass, it can be devastating if timed and aimed right, if you have a winger who is on the shoulder of the full back or just in space the ability to send this over to him is amazing and makes you feel a bit awesome, the only time I had an issue with this was when I sent over a long ball for Pienaar but the cursor though it was intended for Cahil, so I changed it to Pienaar, however Cahill still continued his run for the ball and when I cut inside with Pienaar his team mate actually got in his way blocking the cross!

This game is not user friendly as has been mentioned, you have a new passing system, defensive system, tricks system so if you are a newcomer to the series you will be put off big time, even if you liked the series previously you will be shocked as receiving the ball and running towards goal doing shot feints to evade defenders will get you absolutely nowhere.

I never ever used the quick tactics menu in previous games (Select and X, Triangle, O and Square) but in this game they are vital to me, because I have a packed midfield I like to use the Possession Offensive tactic to spread the ball around in midfield and if I take the lead I use the Counter option because this makes your team break like Germany with four or so players like they did in the South Africa, it is stunning to see it develop, one amazing moment was when the opposing team had a corner and they had sent everyone forward but one man, the ball popped out to Cahill and I could see Anichibe still in my own half, I hit a powerful pass his way and ran the length of the pitch before hitting it over the keeper but also the bar, I jumped up with my head in my hands, this is Pro-Evo.

What has always been important to PES over the years is using your correct foot, this is even more so true here, people have complained about the shots being either too feeble or too hard, well you should really take a little more composure and ensure the ball is at the correct angle to make your preferred foot strike the ball, what I would elaborate more as well with the pace not being effective as much, when you watch real football players do not always receive a pass and go forward, their route to goal may be blocked off so they have to hold the ball and look for a pass, this is the way to play the game, quick incisive passing around the angles to open up space, once you do open up the space to release a forward if he can get his body between the defender and the ball only then will pace and power take over.

Pressure seems to be quite high this year from the AI, so if you think with an average player rated in the 70’s that you can simply turn away from people you have probably already been tackled, just pass the ball or boot it somewhere rather than being dispossessed of the ball, there is no shame in going backwards and if you are dispossessed it can be fatal as the AI just need one pass between your back four and you have conceded, the AI is extremely happy to punish you and you never feel comfortable with a one goal lead.

The new defensive system as a whole works well, there are times when I feel it could be sharpened up because moving the stick towards the player with Pressure (X on PS3, A on 360) is supposed to initiate the tackle but if you are running alongside a player it doesn’t react as well as it could, when you are beside a player as well the defender doesn’t seem interested in the ball unless it collides with his legs making the ball go loose, you could always of course slide tackle but I have found unless you are tackling from slightly ahead of the player the ref will blow for a foul even if the replay proves the ball was reached first then the player fell over, overall this whole tackling and pressure system will come good on feedback for next year.

Now onto the goalkeeping, I said they might be superhuman and time will tell, well it has, they are just merely human they actually do brilliantly close up and if they spill a ball they are up quick and deal with any reaction almost immediately, one thing I do take issue with however is when a shot or header is towards the centre of the goal instead of tipping it over they will just kind of block the ball dropping it around their six yard back with the possibility of a tap in, otherwise I am happy enough with them but would like to see some love shown to their animations next year.

Speaking of animations, I have said that this game is the best moving football game on the market, I will say that it is the most realistic moving game on the market in the sense of weight placement, correct foot planting to ensure no instant turns of sprint other games are guilty of having, it also feels like the ball is a separate item being correctly manipulated by both feet, the animations can appear quite odd at times on normal playing cameras but when you zoom in on a replay it all looks correct, for me I can still see traces of the horrible knees up to waist and back straight animation from older games but in general it is no longer a game we have to be embarrassed trying to defend to detractors, I would still love to see another thousand in the next game though!

The camera I use is Wide, just like the old game, well not quite, for me it works quite well for the most part but I like to see more of the pitch and where my players are without looking at the radar, it zooms in too much for me when the play is over the far side of the pitch and in reality I want to see where my right midfielder is positioned rather than take my eyes off controlling the ball and looking at the radar, it also is a pain when out on the far corner as you really cannot see options approaching the box or even past the far post so you have a bit of hit and hope with the crossing.

Speaking of crossing I know the team is aware of this bug where the defender will track you until you are parallel with the 6 yard box then they just stop dead, allowing you to cross each time.

Another issue I have raised with the team is the cursor, I use semi-assisted as probably all of you do and while this works as you expect it seems to have confusion issues when a ball is loose and there are two or more players nearby, sometimes players just stop dead staring at the ball while you are frantically hitting L1 or LB to change the cursor, it just doesn’t happen but I would still expect the AI to take over and at least move towards the ball but no, it even cost me a goal after my goalkeeper Tim Howard made a save, the ball actually rolled behind Leighton Baines who was looking at the ball but wouldn’t move and the cursor just would not move onto him despite my frantic efforts, the attacker from yards behind Baines then slotted the ball into the net, it is highly frustrating and is costing me games, another issue is when the ball is hit over hard from close to the line it comes over at the speed of a shot, the cursor thinks for example someone at the far post will want that and automatically delegates the cursor to him but what then happens is one of my players at the front post will go for the ball heading it out of play usually, when they have scored it just took the satisfaction out of the goal because, well, I never scored it!

I know I have just complained quite a bit there but when the game does come together it is untouchable, case in example, I was drawn against Fenerbache in the Europa League and looked at their player stats compared to mine and felt comfortable, no I felt complacent, within 10 minutes I was 2-0 down through my own fault totally, my back line was too high and I never heeded the warning until after the second goal, made some changes and was doing everything but scoring, with me changing my Support Range to 20 however my full backs were leaving so much space that I conceded two more before the 90 minutes, but I have rarely felt so satisfied with a defeat as it just proves my point: tactics are king and you should use them. Incidentally my following game was against Man Blue (lawyers) and I approached that game with fear, setting up with my back line deep, counter attack and employing Fellaini instead of Osman in midfield to deal with Toure’s height, I won the game 2-0, joyous.

Incidentally if you are wondering any differences between Professional and Top Player difficulty then I can say that although Professional gives you a hard game the majority of the time every now and then it will allow you to totally overpower the opposition with you having 20 shots on goal and them zero, on Top Player it feels more balanced with both teams having equal enough stats at the end of play and you are never happy unless you are two goals up approaching 80 minutes as they really do put the pressure on.

Because of this I rarely use the trick system, simply because when I do try I get tackled, and when you make a mistake on this as said it does punish you, but it will be one to keep trying to get the timings right and update the blog in the future as to their effectiveness.

Master League

Since I never played 2010 to a great extent I am somewhat of a Master League virgin this year, what was weird when I chose my team and got into the mode I was advised to bid for a player, it was a random goalkeeper who I had to bid for else it would not let me progress, bit of a harsh tutorial on transfers that is! thankfully you can cancel this transfer later, the next part you set up a training regime for you players, based on technical, tactical or skill based drills.

I wanted to buy a right midfielder so immediately tried to find the “Openness to Negotiation” equivalent which I couldn’t find so scoured club by club viewing statistics on their players, once I did find the player I wanted to sign I clicked on him to open up transfer negotiations to which my scout (which I never knew I had until it was too late to realise I could upgrade him) advised me he would let me know when he sorted out a deal, needless to say this did not happen as apparently the section I was looking for was now called “List Of Targets” which appears to guarantee players that populate this list will join.

When I did upgrade my scout I found him filtering out not so realistic targets, Valdes as my new keeper? David Villa as my new striker? erm ok, I even found Rafa Van Der Vaart playing for Middlebrook (team based around the Bolton area) and Bojan lining up for West Midlands Stripes but this was on a loan deal so I will forgive that.

The player prices for me do not work, as said, Merseyside Blue could not afford David Villa’s lip moustache shavings never mind the whole player but on this game he is available for just over 4 Million pounds and the same a season in wages, I wouldn’t buy him because I think that would just make the game too easy possibly.

Update: I originally stated it didn’t look like Champions League is a part of the Master League this year as I saw London FC in the Europa League and they finished above me, just started a new Master League with London FC and they are in there, apologies for the misleading information, they must have lost their qualifier and entered the the Europa League (I will stop drinking now).

Player development is in the game still, your coach advising you which attribute on which player has increased, which is great and you can feel the difference as you go along with players improving.

You will also find some classic players and default ML players sitting in your youth team, I even managed to promote an excellent central defender already on an equal level with Heitinga and Jagielka.

Overall I do feel it is a good mode but the realism for me should be better, I even think I preferred the old system of earning points and bidding on unknowns, building them up rather than being handed David Villa on a plate, who even using the old system I would have had no chance to buy unless I was successful after 4-5 seasons.

Summary

Ok, I still have a lot to play, I will try the Be a Legend mode as well as Master League online which I had a browse through and it appears the same terms as the Beta, with the same prices too which may prove to be a concern.

I have listed my negatives and provided huge amounts of feedback on my findings to Konami and they have definitely took an interest which is a good sign.

Despite the negatives when it comes together and I am still learning the game it is untouchable, providing that sense of anger, joy and the feeling that you have been running with the guys on the pitch every step of the way.

It is tough and harsh on the player at first which will turn people off if they can only dedicate small amounts of playtime each week because the way to learn the game is to learn from its mistakes, there is no sure-fire way of scoring that I can see yet, you genuinely approach nearly every game with a sense of fear and even during the games because you know that a simple couple of passes can outdo you within five seconds.

What I will say that if the faults I mentioned above with the defending issues at the corner flag and the cursor issue can be resolved with a patch this may well put this game over the edge but at the moment it is frustrating because when you see what the game can do you berate it even more for what it fails at.

But hold your heads up high as this is the game you no longer now have to smuggle hidden under your coat when you buy it from the store, as a standalone title so far it is extremely accomplished and the base to which 2012 and 2013 will surely become classics.

I don’t want to give a score to the game yet, when I have played all parts I will update this.

Reviewers and the Casual Gamer

So last week the general gaming public on XBOX Live (Gold) and PSN got their hands on PES and FIFA for the time this year, for me the results were always predictable.

Now for me FIFA can still can be exploited with a one-two, ping pong passing is still there despite the clever Jedi Mind Trick they have done in slowing down the passing to enable the opponent to intercept, on reflection though I suppose that is all they could have done really and also the biggest gripe with me is that the game itself is played in either attacking third exclusively, there is no midfield, there is no need for a midfield as the pitch itself still feels on the small side so passing from defender to attacker is what happens as a rule, rather than you making it so.

The “Personality+” was a feature they were introducing to add more individuality to the game, the worrying thing for me was when they showed how they planned to do this was in one area, a player either has a trait “High Skill” or “Low Skill”, which when I played it confirmed my fears, there is two types of player now, High and Low Skilled, nothing to divide them but that, High Skill control the same way and Low Skill the same way, John Terry can still pass as accurately as Frank Lampard, you get the idea.

What I must commend them on though is the newer slow pace to the game which feels like they are at least listening to their forum feedback who have been asking for this since FIFA 09 and also player specific animations, particularly C.Ronaldo and Cesc Fabregas, this looks stunning as do the animations in general, they all do look like they are 22 individuals from an aesthetic standpoint and makes me wonder just how many animations PES2012 would require just to catch up with them.

Despite the negativity pointed out it actually plays a really nice game of football, more rooted in an arcade experience despite what you may read but an enjoyable alternative with the shooting and as mentioned before the animations in particular shining through and as always with an EA title outstanding production values, currently loving their NHL 11 game right now, why oh why did they have to release all these sports now!

Now onto PES 2011, within the PES community who have been keeping tabs on the blogs, forums each day and knowing what each new feature is, what new controls they were going to have to become accustomed to the demo has on the whole been a massive success, sure there are grumbles and moans but nowhere close in my opinion to what has occurred the last few years, in fact if 90% were negative on the last three games I would guess 90% are now positive with 2011.

However, the issue which I knew would arise and I tried warning people was once the casual gamer on non PES forums got their hands on it and even those who played it last in 2006 would not like it, the reason? because it’s not the game they loved back then.

Biggest complaints were “the passing is terrible and it has a mind of its own”, “there are too many fouls, its impossible to tackle”, “the shooting is too weightless”, “nobody is making forward runs”, “the defending is non existent”, and you know what? that is true, you know why? because they have absolutely no idea how to work the game, something should have been put together prior to the release to say: “Hey we have a new defending system, you cannot just hold X and press sprint any more”, hopefully you get the point.

Now what was also predictable was because now there is “The Best Football Game Ever 10/10 – OPM” as an alternative some people do not want to like PES again, comments such as “played a half, crap, deleted it” are all too common and are spreading negativity and if you don’t think Magazines, blogs and the like look at forums to find out what the general public are thinking of a certain game before going live with a review then you are naive, what people forget is that when FIFA was terrible these same people took the time to learn Pro-Evo and then fall in love with it, the people who are slating PES now remind me of me back 6-7 years ago with every new iteration and me declaring they had broken a perfectly good game, when in reality, I sucked at it.

I wonder what my impressions would have been after my 4 hour playtest at Konami had I not played and got good at the Master League online beta, the same as those instantly dismissing it?

So in my opinion as PES fans we know the game will not be critically the best and nor should it be, it should receive mostly 70-80%, for me it is an absolutely incredible and deep game but the foundations to make PES2012 almost untouchable are there, they have a year to do it and I think it can be done, especially when you compare the BETA to the Demo and what was achieved in a couple of months between the codes.

FIFA will always be the critics sweetheart, they have made it clear all they are interested in with any of their games is a Metacritic score above 90 so they are trying to please the press who have to make up their minds within hours, hell if I had to score FIFA after a day or two it would receive 90% from me then a month down the line after you have figured it out I would give it 60%, whereas Konami are aiming to win the fans back and for me that is more reason to be optimistic as we know in 6 months time we should all be still posting our video clips from the game with pride.

I’m talking with the man in the mirror!

After playing around 60 games on the demo the evil me decided to venture back to this review and argue with the good me on the wholly positive points that were made.

“Now if you want to know anything you don’t already about the menu’s then feel free to ask but I didn’t spend much time with them, instead choosing to goto an exhibition match, picking my beloved (but at this time beloathed) Merseyside Blue against Fat Sam’s team Lancashire.”

Question: You say your beloathed Merseyside Blue, didn’t they just come back from 3-1 down in injury time to draw against Man United?

Answer: That is off topic but yes, yes they did.

“First thing was the camera panning back and you will be pleased to know I wasn’t having any of the tracking issues I found during fast exchanges, the reason, it was on Wide cam, fear not, it is there!”

Question: Listen now, you said wide cam was there but it still feels zoomed in when I play the demo!

Answer: I agree, I thought the build I played it seemed more zoomed out, I may be wrong but I did notice this and try and change it in the demo right away.

“Another thing that struck me immediately was the true 360 movement, it may have just been me not used to the PS3 pad for this game fully as I spend most of my gaming time with the Xbox pad, it was very difficult to stay in a straight line, I pointed this out straight away to Steve.”

Question: But I have read magazines since which tell me it is only 8 directions! so you are lying!

Answer: Well no, it is definitely 360 degree movement, these magazines and websites are clearly playing a build that was previous to even the build that the beta showed, if it existed that is.

“Secondly after passing the ball about there does not seem to be that remote control ball to foot curl I noticed at times in the beta, an almost artificial assistance that ensured short passes would find their man, short passes appear just like old with the added control of the power and angle should you wish to play the ball in space, passing seems less powered than the beta, you can easily underhit the pass and also what some considered to be an exploit which was to free the striker with one full powered pass down the centre never happened once, you can hit him but it was far less powerful on full power and the defenders were positioned correctly anyway.”

Question: Ok, you never explained this very well!

Answer: I really did not, it is almost the key feature of the game and one to be lauded, the best way I can describe it, to tap the pass button and hold that direction would see the pass go to the player, that is the same as always, the big change though is what happens when you hold a direction and then hold the pass button will send the ball manual in that direction unless a player is where you pointed the left analogue stick, in short, tap pass to goto player, hold to go manual.

“The worrying issue was I won my first game very easily, breezing past players, AI standing off and could easily shoot from outside the box, I even scored a soft goal from outside the box with Cahill as my first goal, but I wasn’t impressed, the good thing though was that the difficulty was on Regular, so changed that right away, was going to show off and go straight to Top Player but decided against it as Professional (4 stars of old) always eased me in without letting me exploit it, the change was immediate the following game as long shots were charged down easily when I was not making space and they have a new urgency when attacking your goal, but I was still doing well enough to scrape by one goal advantages.”

Question: OI! I can attack no problem without pressure close to the corner, I have no problem sending a cross in no matter what difficulty!!!!

Answer: This I agree with, it is too easy to breeze past a player to send a cross in, even when holding the ball in the corner no pressure is applied, this needs to be looked at.

“Goalkeepers are terrific now, commanding their area and not allowing soft near post goals, I only scored one long range goal and one moment when I thought the goalie was at error I checked the replay and he was wrong footed and could not adjust in time, just like real life, and they also come off their line when the situation demands it, due to the feedback from the beta I wonder if they may have been made too good, but time will tell.”

Question: I think you are telling fibs on this too

Answer: Well, since first playing the demo I have noticed that the keepers appeared to parry the ball more seemingly than the build I played, to the point I have asked for clarification on a few points that the build I played was the same as the demo version, this has been clarified to be the same so I am not sure what it was, maybe because I was trying too many easy shots for the keeper to save easily that day because I was not as tuned to the game I am now, not that I am saying the keepers are bad now, just I feel less confident in their abilities than I initially thought, saying that I can honestly say I have never seen a glitch/bug from the keepers yet and they still do a good job, just at the time I played and compared to the beta they felt superhuman, now they just feel human.

“I was critical of the new defending system but more time with this and I found it useful, gave away quite a few fouls by sticking a leg in too early but did manage to block and intercept a few times, it will be something to master over four weeks not four hours though.”

Question: Still giving away easy fouls you amateur?

Answer: No! Many people are not going to get this system so I will tell you how to work it, you must hold X with the left stick on a straight line facing back towards your goal, not diagonally down, but spirit level back to your goal, it does work and very effectively, even when Messi dribbled towards me then away I deliberately held back just to test and even though he did concede that initial ground for a second when Messi turned back he still stuck close to him and made the tackle, the one downside so far is using this method to me seems to have an almost artificial speed catch up, when the striker should be clear my defender does seem to be able to catch up a little too easy, maybe the AI should have realised they were clear and sprinted into space more, will have to see on multiplayer games how this affects things.

“Trick wise I did not have the rainbow flick in my preset tricks so honestly could not try this to see if it has been remedied in time, hopefully if it has not then it will be something that can be patched up in time for release, the demo next week you will be able to see this anyway so I am not holding any information back about this.”

Question: What about now or still ducking behind “I did not try them”?

Answer: Yes and so have lots of people, you can do the rainbow flick, but not over and over as far as I can tell, the opponent was wise to this.

“One thing I should also point out I never actually messed with any tactics apart from changing formations for a game when I was going through a slump but when I was 1-0 down in a match in the last 10 minutes of the match and my team made a very visible move up the pitch to squeeze the play and push for the equalizer, this was done on its own so I am not sure if it assigned to that team tactically by default or this genuinely happens no matter what but I thought it was an excellent touch and really increased the urgency.”

Question: Oh isn’t that convenient that you didn’t mess around with the tactics, more like they don’t work, pah!

Answer: Yes, this was something that should have been covered more but due to only having 4 hours time with the game I thought it best to play more, however I have delved deeper into the tactics since playing the demo and I can say they are a massive aspect of the game, especially if you need to change things, an example was I was having no luck with Bayern vs Barca, they were containing me easily and a serious lack of threat going forward, so decided at half time to move Van Bommel back to DMF pushing up Schweinsteiger into a more advanced role, I then changed player support and support range to 15/20, the difference was dramatic, Lahm and Badstuber supported the attack more and I was able to control possession up the field more, pulling Barca players out of position, I now default my formation with Bayern to this.

“For my last two games before leaving I tried the Copa Libertadores mode, whereas the main menu’s in the normal game modes are dark backgrounds with pictures of Messi and your team in ML mode the Copa Libertadores is bright and warm, a white background with an orange/red swirl through the middle of the screen and of course some south american music to accompany this.

Before kick off the change in atmosphere is apparent, it is bright with confetti streaming down, flares in the stands, different advertisement boards and the crows chanting natively.”

Question: Yes, but where are the flares and confetti once the match starts?

Answer: Yes, it does stop when the match starts, would have been nice to see flares spark up when a goal was scored but oh well.

There was a couple of small niggles I pointed out, which happened twice was when crossing the ball the cursor selected my man at the back post, but the man that was AI controlled at the front post headed the ball on its own accord, also another slight niggle which happened twice in 17 or so games was an underpowered slightly floaty shot which felt as if the keeper would have had more than enough time to reach actually travelled in the goal, these were not in any way game breaking but I thought I should mention amid all the positivity as you may be thinking I have taken a bung!

Question: So come on then Spin Doctor, anything else?

Answer: Well yes, the whole crossing system for me is a major frustration at the moment, I mentioned the cursor choosing the wrong player, it seems if there is two players in the box the cursor automatically selects the furthest away player, the issue with this is the man at the near post does seem to take over and take the shot on himself, if he scores you feel no satisfaction as you never actually did anything, you might say to change the cursor then but this is almost impossible because I feel the balls (when tapped once or double tapped) are being driven in too hard and fast (oo’er) so trying to change the cursor is void since I cannot slow down time (yet), also despite all the new animations in the game I feel the crossing animations of which I feel there are only two become stale after a while.

Referees are not playing the advantage rule, its that simple and it is frustrating.

Goalkeepers are still only able to short pass to that one defender, the online community will be frustrated at this.

Revised Summary

Despite the above frustrations I will stand by what I said, this is the game that the fans have been asking for, it is going to be my most played game easily this year, I am unsure if a patch can fix the above so I will focus on the positives and provide the feedback with the rest of the community for next years game, which now has an outstanding platform to build on.