Any game that uses the word ‘soccer’ rather than ‘football’ in its title is bound to miss a few of the finer points in simulating the beautiful game. So it is, again, with PES 2010.
While it was arguably the best football sim on the PS2, next generation console iterations have just lacked the polish and authenticity we’ve come to appreciate from EA’s FIFA series. PES 2010 does make good on a number of its predecessor's (PES 2009) shortcomings however. There are also significant, enough, differences between it and its rival to make it worth considering.
The first thing that strikes you about PES 2010 is how much better looking it is than PES 2009. Its interface is more polished and the character models in game are quite impressive. Player likenesses for stars like Torres, Messi and Rooney are fantastic and the look and feel of the pitches and stadiums is also pleasing. This really improves the atmosphere of the game and adds to its polish.
Something that PES 2010 has never lost is its fun factor. The game has always been a fast paced goal-fest, keeping players either on the edge of their seats or hanging from the ceiling. PES 2010 delivers this enjoyment as well. It’s easy to pick up and play and scoring goals is far easier to accomplish than in FIFA games. The game’s much touted 360 degree control of dribbling, however, is over-hyped, no where near as effective as we thought it would be. The game is also considerably slower than the pervious version, but noticeably snappier than FIFA, this makes for a more evenly paced game that never gets boring.
A major draw card for PES is its UEFA Champions League license. There is little doubt that the Champions League is the most competitive club competition in the world. PES 2010, complete with its Champions League anthem intro, captures the glamour and prestige of the tournament. Konami’s integration of the league into the game’s Master League is also great, adding a lot more depth to the game’s career mode – which is where the substance of the game lies. It is still disappointing that some big name teams are missing from the league though.
The reworked menu system does much the same for the feel of the game. The main menu is fairly intuitive and submenus are easy to navigate, although the black and pink colour scheme seems an odd choice. Konami has also added custom team and player settings, which users can now edit in-depth. The settings proved simple to adjust, but seem as if they were designed with the most anal of players in mind. In addition we didn’t notice a significant difference to the on field action after laboriously tweaking the settings.
Online play is also much improved. There are no more long waiting periods to join games anymore and lag is less of an issue. You can also take your Become a Legend player online, although we weren’t thoroughly impressed by their version of this mode.
We still have three major issues with Konami’s take on the beautiful game. The animations are still unnatural; the commentary of John Champion and Martin Lawrenson is just horrible; and it lacks critical licenses. All this makes it feel rather amateurish, and not just in comparison to its arch rival. What Tottenham fan wants to play as North London? Konami have made it significantly easier to overlook these issues this year with the various improvements they’ve made, but at some point they are going to have to give us something fresh.