Pro Evolution Soccer 2010 Xbox 360
Published by: Konami
Developed by: Konami
The Pro Evolution Soccer series, so dominant on the last generation of consoles, has struggled to hit the same level of form on the current generation. To make matters even more uncomfortable for Shingo "Seabass" Takatsuka and team, the FIFA series has really got its act together over the last few years and has surprisingly become the better game. It's very important then that this year sees a return to form for the Pro Evolution Soccer series.
The modes on offer in PES 2010 are pretty much the same as in last year's game but some of them have been spruced up somewhat. The UEFA Champions League mode's presentation quality has been stepped up a few notches and is actually above what you'll find in the rest of the game. The Master League mode has probably received the biggest reworking however. You can now play in your preferred league (rather than having to get promoted as you did in previous versions). You'll also have money instead of points to spend and you now have the ability to simulate matches rather than having to play through each one. The UEFA Champions League and the new UEFA Europa League (which can't be played separately) are now included in the Master League season. The other modes largely remain unchanged which is disappointing, especially in the case of the Become A Legend mode (in which you control a player through a virtual career) which I had hoped would have been improved upon this year.
A couple of the new features this year make it easier to assess your team and control how they play. You can alter your teams style of play through the use of eight different sliders. There are sliders for: Player Support, Support Range, Position Switch, Attacking Style, Pressing, Defensive Line, Compactness and Defensive Strategy. Each of the sliders ranges from 0 to 100 with the exception of Defensive Strategy which only offers either 0 or 1. This may seem like an unusual way of altering your team's style of play but it's easy to get to grips with and gives you full control over how your team will play. Player cards help to make it easier to evaluate your squad. These cards indicate what a player's strengths are and some of the player behaviours are even configurable. Both new features are worthy additions to the game.
When it comes to the all important action on the pitch there are signs of improvement but there some disappointments too. One of the key new features this year is 360 degree control of you players when using the analogue sticks. The player movement definitely has less of the on-rails feeling that previous games in the series have had but it doesn't feel as fluid as in FIFA 10 (and even there it's not as good as it should be). That said it does make using the directional pad a less inviting option as that has a very limited range of movement and the difference between the two is quite noticeable. Scoring headed goals from crosses is far too easy in PES 2010. It also seems much easier to score with long range shots this time around. By far the biggest disappointment has to be the new method of taking penalties. It's just not intuitive and the in-game description of how to take them is of little help. That a lot of people are using a YouTube video clip to find out how to take the penalties properly is quite simply pathetic.
PES 2010, like other games in the series, offers five AI difficulty levels. In past PES titles the third difficulty level was the good middle ground for learning the game. The AI didn't hang back and let you take shots at will, posed a decent challenge and made you work without being too punishing. In PES 2010 this isn't the case however. Here the third difficulty level (Regular) is a mess. It's far too easy to score goals and you'll see the AI making all kinds of defensive errors. It generally appears adverse to pressing further up the field, even when losing. The fourth difficulty level (Professional) definitely feels more like the old third level but of course that only leaves one further difficulty level to progress to.
Visually the game looks good and surprisingly, in some respects, PES 2010 is a better looking game than FIFA 10. The lighting effects are particularly impressive and quite a lot of the player likenesses surpass those found in this year's FIFA. Most of the player animations are also good and those from the more recognisable players have been recreated quite well. Some of the animations in the game could be smoother however. The general level of presentation has been raised in PES 2010 with the menus being more stylish and easier to use than in past versions of the game. The game still only has a limited amount of official teams and kits however. The included editor will enable you to change any details you want but it's still disappointing to have so many fictitious teams (even if you can tell which teams they are meant to be). The frame rate is excellent and I didn't notice any slowdown during game-play. Load times are short, even when playing directly from the disk and not having the game installed to the hard drive.
Whilst some areas of the game have received improvement, the support for deaf gamers remains the same. The match commentary is not subtitled but whilst this may be disappointing, it's hardly problematic. In fact a lot of what is said is either inaccurate or silly. Elsewhere however there are no problems. All important information is shown either in text or through the use of numbers or icons meaning you'll have no problems playing either mode of the game.
If the last few instalments in the Pro Evolution Soccer series have given the impression of the series being in decline, then Pro Evolution Soccer 2010 indicates that it's on the way back, even if it's only a small step in the right direction. There are still areas of the game where it is not yet up to speed. It's far too easy to score from headers and the method of taking penalties is far from being intuitive. There have been some worthy additions in PES 2010, and I should also mention that online games seem to be much less problematic than in the past. However, the end result is that for another year the once untouchable Pro Evolution Soccer series remains firmly in second place.