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"Pro Evolution Soccer 2009 (Xbox 360)"

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This thread has been linked to the game 'Pro Evolution Soccer 2009'.
Fri 17/10/08 at 01:25
Regular
"the j-man"
Posts: 68
The annual release of a new football game is often derided as nothing more than a chance for the publisher to cash in with a roster update. In PES2009’s case, they seem to have forgotten this. While they’ve significantly altered the match engine and introduced some new features, someone at Konami has decided it would be a good idea to ignore the transfer market as much as possible, with transfers made as long ago as July (Brad Friedel to Aston Villa) not accurately represented in the game. Aside from inexplicable omittances like Friedel, it’s a guarantee that any transfer made beyond mid-August has not been included in the game. Stroll to Eastlands on a Saturday and you’ll be serenaded with chants of “we’ve got Robinho!” Not in PES2009. Here you’ll find Man City’s British transfer record signing warming the bench for Real Madrid. Likewise, £30m Man Utd player Dimitar Berbatov continues to sulk his way around the pitch for the Lilywhites in this game. Aston Villa fans in particular will be horrified by the wild squad inaccuracies of PES2009, with their team missing five of their summer signings, the small matter of approximately fifty-million pounds’ worth of players! One might argue problems like this are easily rectified in Edit mode, but having spent money on the game you would expect the developers to have the courtesy to at least keep the teams up to date. The transfer window closed on September 1st, which begs the question: what have Konami been doing for the last 6 weeks that they couldn’t have spent a few hours updating the squad rosters accurately? Previous versions have contained occasional roster inaccuracies but never to this extent, which is quite frankly ridiculous. Dozens upon dozens of players are at the wrong teams.

I won’t waste time discussing the Master League and Cup modes which will already be familiar to anyone who’s played PES before, and indeed the gameplay in general needs no significant discussion other than to indicate that the match engine has been tweaked to offer a slower, somewhat more ponderous approach while still remaining distinctly recognisable as Pro Evolution Soccer. PES2008 was blighted by the ability of pacey players to easily dribble through entire teams at will, even on the highest difficulty setting. PES2009 has rebalanced the gameplay away from a reliance on speed and power back towards a much more satisfying pass and move approach. This change is more than welcome and certainly makes 2009 the best next-gen instalment in terms of depicting realistic football.

The new UEFA Champions League mode is little more than Cup mode with some UEFA music and a Champions League style scoreboard in the corner. Indeed, despite the license the actual CL group stage has not been programmed into the game, so if you want to play the CL in accordance with the 08/09 draw it’s necessary to manually place the teams in the correct groups yourself. With that in mind, I’d like to focus the majority of this review on the much-hyped and only genuinely new addition to the game, Become A Legend.

Become A Legend, according to the blurb, gives you the chance to start out at a club as a 17-year-old trainee and develop into a first-team player and eventual global superstar. In reality, this means you play through a number of seasons controlling a single player on your team, with no control whatsoever over the actions of your team-mates, much like real football. While it sounds an interesting proposition, everything about Become A Legend is deeply flawed. Firstly, none of the camera angles provided really work. The default vertical mode is the best, but can be somewhat confusing as it zooms in and swings around constantly in an attempt to disorientate you as much as possible. A more conventional wide or broadcast angle makes it difficult to accurately move your player into space between opposition players, and with the camera following your player rather than the ball it can be near-impossible to follow the play without relying on the radar, which has too small a scale to indicate what’s going on with any real accuracy. For any position other than centre-back, be prepared for your team to concede goals where you don’t even see the opposition take a shot until the replay of the goal.

In terms of the actual play, you can call for a pass by double-tapping RT. However, your AI team-mates will often decide that a 5 yard pass to a player screaming for the ball is too complicated, instead preferring to blast the ball into the stands for an opposition throw, all while under no pressure whatsoever. Likewise, strikers will often shoot from ridiculous angles or take unnecessary risks rather than make a square pass. Go through 2-on-1 against the keeper? They’d rather blast it into the stands than square it to you for a tap-in into an empty net. Play someone down the channel and they’ll take a shot with the ball practically on the byline rather than make the cutback to you. Being able to control only one player absolutely destroys the flowing game that makes PES so enjoyable. The AI players are too unpredictable, or simply too rubbish, to do anything other than make every game an exercise in how much frustration you can take before reaching boiling point.

The team selection system in Become A Legend is, for want of a better word, terrible. Playing CMF, I could finish three consecutive games with 7.0 ratings, and my midfield partner with 5.0s, but for no apparent reason I’d find myself dropped to the bench or out of the squad altogether in the next game while my worse-performing partner would continue to play regardless of his form. Another issue is that when you are a substitute, you are forced to watch the CPU v CPU match unfold until you are brought on. While you can accelerate the match speed to 2x, this is nowhere near enough, leaving you twiddling your thumbs in frustration for 4-5 minutes before you actually get to do anything. EA’s equivalent, Be A Pro, avoids such an issue by simply having the game commence from the point in which your player is brought on. Why PES neglects to adopt the same approach, I will never know.

In terms of a rating, I’ve struggled to come to any real conclusion. As far as the actual game engine goes in terms of playing an Exhibition, League or Multiplayer match, this is certainly better than PES2008. If I was to base my opinion on that alone, I could happily suggest 9/10 or more. However, as a package PES2009 is severely lacking in completeness and professionalism. The failure to include up-to-date squads for each team reeks of sheer laziness and borders on embarrassing. Champions League is lazily implemented without the accurate real-life group stages and Become A Legend, while an interesting idea on the surface, is so poorly executed it is effectively unplayable. From this perspective, I find PES2009 and the attitude of Konami extremely disappointing.

7/10.
There have been no replies to this thread yet.
Fri 17/10/08 at 01:25
Regular
"the j-man"
Posts: 68
The annual release of a new football game is often derided as nothing more than a chance for the publisher to cash in with a roster update. In PES2009’s case, they seem to have forgotten this. While they’ve significantly altered the match engine and introduced some new features, someone at Konami has decided it would be a good idea to ignore the transfer market as much as possible, with transfers made as long ago as July (Brad Friedel to Aston Villa) not accurately represented in the game. Aside from inexplicable omittances like Friedel, it’s a guarantee that any transfer made beyond mid-August has not been included in the game. Stroll to Eastlands on a Saturday and you’ll be serenaded with chants of “we’ve got Robinho!” Not in PES2009. Here you’ll find Man City’s British transfer record signing warming the bench for Real Madrid. Likewise, £30m Man Utd player Dimitar Berbatov continues to sulk his way around the pitch for the Lilywhites in this game. Aston Villa fans in particular will be horrified by the wild squad inaccuracies of PES2009, with their team missing five of their summer signings, the small matter of approximately fifty-million pounds’ worth of players! One might argue problems like this are easily rectified in Edit mode, but having spent money on the game you would expect the developers to have the courtesy to at least keep the teams up to date. The transfer window closed on September 1st, which begs the question: what have Konami been doing for the last 6 weeks that they couldn’t have spent a few hours updating the squad rosters accurately? Previous versions have contained occasional roster inaccuracies but never to this extent, which is quite frankly ridiculous. Dozens upon dozens of players are at the wrong teams.

I won’t waste time discussing the Master League and Cup modes which will already be familiar to anyone who’s played PES before, and indeed the gameplay in general needs no significant discussion other than to indicate that the match engine has been tweaked to offer a slower, somewhat more ponderous approach while still remaining distinctly recognisable as Pro Evolution Soccer. PES2008 was blighted by the ability of pacey players to easily dribble through entire teams at will, even on the highest difficulty setting. PES2009 has rebalanced the gameplay away from a reliance on speed and power back towards a much more satisfying pass and move approach. This change is more than welcome and certainly makes 2009 the best next-gen instalment in terms of depicting realistic football.

The new UEFA Champions League mode is little more than Cup mode with some UEFA music and a Champions League style scoreboard in the corner. Indeed, despite the license the actual CL group stage has not been programmed into the game, so if you want to play the CL in accordance with the 08/09 draw it’s necessary to manually place the teams in the correct groups yourself. With that in mind, I’d like to focus the majority of this review on the much-hyped and only genuinely new addition to the game, Become A Legend.

Become A Legend, according to the blurb, gives you the chance to start out at a club as a 17-year-old trainee and develop into a first-team player and eventual global superstar. In reality, this means you play through a number of seasons controlling a single player on your team, with no control whatsoever over the actions of your team-mates, much like real football. While it sounds an interesting proposition, everything about Become A Legend is deeply flawed. Firstly, none of the camera angles provided really work. The default vertical mode is the best, but can be somewhat confusing as it zooms in and swings around constantly in an attempt to disorientate you as much as possible. A more conventional wide or broadcast angle makes it difficult to accurately move your player into space between opposition players, and with the camera following your player rather than the ball it can be near-impossible to follow the play without relying on the radar, which has too small a scale to indicate what’s going on with any real accuracy. For any position other than centre-back, be prepared for your team to concede goals where you don’t even see the opposition take a shot until the replay of the goal.

In terms of the actual play, you can call for a pass by double-tapping RT. However, your AI team-mates will often decide that a 5 yard pass to a player screaming for the ball is too complicated, instead preferring to blast the ball into the stands for an opposition throw, all while under no pressure whatsoever. Likewise, strikers will often shoot from ridiculous angles or take unnecessary risks rather than make a square pass. Go through 2-on-1 against the keeper? They’d rather blast it into the stands than square it to you for a tap-in into an empty net. Play someone down the channel and they’ll take a shot with the ball practically on the byline rather than make the cutback to you. Being able to control only one player absolutely destroys the flowing game that makes PES so enjoyable. The AI players are too unpredictable, or simply too rubbish, to do anything other than make every game an exercise in how much frustration you can take before reaching boiling point.

The team selection system in Become A Legend is, for want of a better word, terrible. Playing CMF, I could finish three consecutive games with 7.0 ratings, and my midfield partner with 5.0s, but for no apparent reason I’d find myself dropped to the bench or out of the squad altogether in the next game while my worse-performing partner would continue to play regardless of his form. Another issue is that when you are a substitute, you are forced to watch the CPU v CPU match unfold until you are brought on. While you can accelerate the match speed to 2x, this is nowhere near enough, leaving you twiddling your thumbs in frustration for 4-5 minutes before you actually get to do anything. EA’s equivalent, Be A Pro, avoids such an issue by simply having the game commence from the point in which your player is brought on. Why PES neglects to adopt the same approach, I will never know.

In terms of a rating, I’ve struggled to come to any real conclusion. As far as the actual game engine goes in terms of playing an Exhibition, League or Multiplayer match, this is certainly better than PES2008. If I was to base my opinion on that alone, I could happily suggest 9/10 or more. However, as a package PES2009 is severely lacking in completeness and professionalism. The failure to include up-to-date squads for each team reeks of sheer laziness and borders on embarrassing. Champions League is lazily implemented without the accurate real-life group stages and Become A Legend, while an interesting idea on the surface, is so poorly executed it is effectively unplayable. From this perspective, I find PES2009 and the attitude of Konami extremely disappointing.

7/10.

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