Playing PES 2010, you could be forgiven for wondering just how much further football games can advance. Not very much might be your initial assumption. The graphics and gameplay in Konami’s latest footballing extravaganza are awe-inspiring. Players, famous and not so, are well rendered and are instantly recognisable by features, as well as more subtle observance of gait and playing style. Non-player controlled members of your team will work intelligently, depending on their individual attributes, and will place themselves in appropriate positions for seamless passes and quick runs. The more flamboyant players, your Ronaldos and Rooneys will demonstrate their skills on the ball and the referee even sometimes gets in the way. The reactions of off-the-ball players to actions such as fouls, bookings and missed chances can leave you wondering if you are watching an actual match.
The intricate detail of the game has been so well thought out that I can only assume that the next step in football gaming would be a compete, real-life rendering of a match, only distinguishable from the real thing by a red arrow above a player’s head indicating who you are controlling at any given point. The gaming modes are as expected with PES: European Championship oriented with a Master league option, where you can take your team from nothing to the dizzy heights of the Champion’s League final. There is a “Become a Legend” mode, where you can create your own player and customise everything about him, trial him for a team and work your way into the first side before becoming a legend, which gives the game as a whole a new dimension as you play as only on player and not a whole team; The player must therefore think about positioning and passing rather than simply running single-mindedly at the goal, which will more often than not result in your being run down by the defence.
It is safe to say that on initial inspection PES 2010 is an extraordinary game. However, on closer inspection it is not as perfect as it may at first seem. Where PES 2010 begins to fall down is that it doesn’t have the image rights to use all of the major teams in Europe. The majority of English Premier League clubs have had their name and strip changed just enough that PES won’t get sued, although the players names are correct with their likenesses rendered correctly. The control system is incredibly intricate, which could be seen as a good thing by those who like to control the game intrinsically, but to your average player it’s over-complicated with too many incarnations of shot variation and pass style. This is not a problem on the title’s main rival, FIFA 2010, which has the sponsorship rights for all the major teams, not only in Europe, but also throughout the world including international sides. FIFA 2010’s control system is simpler and more intuitive and it also has another extra touch that PES 2010 sadly lacks: linesmen (who just add that much more realism to the gameplay).
All of that said, however, PES 2010 is still and excellent game that offers hours of enjoyment for football fans. Online multiplayer and player vs. player matches ensure that the gaming experience can live beyond the challenge of the games AI, although as always with football games, it can expect to have a shelf life of about a year before they release the next instalment. Overall PES 2010 is a great game that suffers a little from trying too hard and from the obvious comparisons to FIFA 2010. Having played both I can say that I now wish I had purchased FIFA instead, however I have a nagging feeling that if I did I would be saying the same about PES 2010. Footballing gamers will love it.