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.

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