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Pro Evolution Soccer 2009 - First Impressions

Written by FooFan on Sunday, 29 March 2009One Comment

Last year, Konami released PES 2008 on the Wii boasting an entirely unique control system that left many people sceptical and others intrigued. It soon became clear for the people who picked the game up that these new controls allowed the players to play a football game in a way that they had never done before. By using the Wii’s pointer as the main source of controlling your players, you could now control every single player on your team which allowed for a totally fresh and engaging experience. It deservedly received the praise that it got from critics and players alike, but it wasn’t without it’s problems either. Defending could be a chore, online the game was prone to Lag issues and they had also left out many features and modes which were present on the 360 and PS3 versions. Not to mention some pretty poor graphics at times. So there was a lot of pressure on PES 09 to address these issues and become the football game that everyone wanted. The potential was present in 08, but has Konami built on that enough in 09?

When you first load up 09, you are greeted with the training camp mode which gives you 2 options. You can either go through the entire camp if you are new to PES on Wii, or if you are an ‘Experienced PES 2008 Wii Player’ then you can choose that mode and it will just introduce you to the new controls and moves of which there are about 5 or 6. So it goes without saying that if you owned or played 2008, you should have no problems playing 2009 and the games do feel and play very similar. The new additions include a more accurate shooting option where you point to where you want to shoot and press ‘B’, A new defence system where you can control the defender more accurately and time tackles more efficiently, and a new free kick system which gives you more control over where the player aims for and where your keeper stands. They’re all nice additions, although I have been having some issues with getting the shooting one working well as they usually just try to pass the ball still… But I haven’t tried it that many times.

I mentioned earlier that PES 2008 left out a lot of the game modes and features that were present on the other consoles, well I’m pleased to say that this is not the case with 2009. You can now play the game modes Master League and Champions League(For which they have the official licence), along with the Wii Exclusive mode from last year ‘Champions Road’ which has also been improved with new features. I’ve been playing Champions Road mostly since getting the game as I really enjoyed in on 2008. The same principles apply whereby you start with an unheard of low-skilled players and then acquire better players by beating other teams and having to pick up to 3 of their players to join your squad(The catch being that the players appear as face-down cards that only have vague clues as to who they are). They have improved it a bit as well though, with new features such as facilities at you clubhouse which you have to upgrade in order to attract the better players and a very cool scouted players feature which appears in the pre-match screen that shows your their 3 best players. Very helpful when trying to work out which players you want if you beat them. Alongside that they have also included the vast ‘Edit Mode’, which let’s you edit every single club and player on the game including their Kit, Stadium, Badge, etc. It really is a very powerful editor which was sorely missed in 2008 as the teams are still unlicensed, and therefore don’t have official Names, Kits or badges. So it’s good to know that with a bit of time, you can(to some extent) rectify this on 2009.

One of the first things you’ll want to do when you get PES 2009 is to download the latest squad update. This feature was also sorely missed in 2008 as the January transfers hadn’t even been taken into account in some instances. Luckily Konami have introduced this new feature and it’s excellent! Simply go to Nintendo WFC as normal and you get 2 options, either ‘Play Nintendo WFC Match’ or ‘Download’. Click the latter and it will download the latest squad update quick and easy! This was a sign of how much the online has been improved in PES 2009. The online play side of it has been revamped and now includes many more options than it’s predescessor. Friend codes are still used to add friends to your roster, but if you have them added to your Wii Address Book, then you can just select them off that list and an Friend Request will be sent to them. There is also a new ‘Rivals Roster’ which is basically a friend roster for the people you play online. After each match you have the option to invite the player to be a ‘rival’. If they accept, they are then added to your Rivals Roster and can be played at any time just like a friend. It’s a simple, but perfect system that should be used on all Wii online games. You also have a ‘Match Blacklist’ which is where you can add players whom you don’t want to play in the future. For example, if someone quit on you while you were winning, you could go to match history, select that game and then add that player to your blacklist. Once again, a very simply system, but something that most developers have overlooked for too long. All your stats are also logged and you have a ‘performance log’ which tracks your tendencies when playing. There’s also a nice little ‘Chat’ feature like in Mario kart in the pre-match lobby when you are selecting your team.

Now for the actual online gameplay, has it improved from last year? Well I think it has… However, it’s still far from perfect. I’ve only had 1 instance out of 7 online games where players have ‘Teleported’. In the other 6 there was minimal lag although it was still noticeable that I was playing online when compared to playing offline which is much smoother. Also, and this has been brought up in the PES 2009 thread on the forum, you do still get players that will quit on you if they are losing. This is obviously very annoying, but is almost to be expected as it happens on every online game on every console! The thing that Konami haven’t done though, is to mark a disconnect as a loss to that player. I can’t understand why they haven’t done this, except maybe to keep the whole online side of things as non-competitive as possible, but then why keep the stats?! It’s a shame because recording as a loss is pretty much standard for disconnectors, the only good thing is that you can now blacklist those players that do quit on you. You can now also play online with up to 7 other people(That’s 4 on each console) using the other control options of the Remote held sideways of the Classic controller if the new controls don’t grab you. I haven’t tried either of these as I know I’m comfortable with the Remote + Nunchuk, but it sounds like a good option if you have friends round who have only played other football games.

One of my grievances with PES 2008 was that, at times, it was a pretty bad looking game in terms on graphics. The crowd in particular looked flat and as if they were made out of cardboard, along with the texture-less pitches and awful banners it didn’t make for great viewing. The player models were more acceptable, although likeliness to the real version could be very hit and miss. Unfortunately I can’t say that much has changed in 2009. The crowd still look awful and there has perhaps been a little touch-up for the pitches and players, but nothing major. It was a real shock playing this for the first time after several months with Fifa on the 360. I understand that to compare the two is unfair, but the Wii is capable of better graphics that what is on show here and I’m disappointed more of an effort wasn’t made to improve them. The same goes for the audio, the commentary is exactly the same as last year, which for me is a major disappointment. I already know what the commentators are going to say as soon as they start their sentences and it ruins the feeling that this is a new game. In fact, if someone walked in on you playing this game, it would be almost impossible for them to tell whether you are playing 2008 or 2009. The truth is that this game has followed a similar pattern to it’s siblings on the 360 and PS3 in that the new 2009 version is very, very similar to the 2008 version. This has worse consequences for the 360 and PS3 versions because Fifa improved so much but on the Wii we’re inclined not to worry as much because EA have yet to produce a really solid version of Fifa for the console.

Maybe it’s a result of our own doing. We all raved about how this was the best way to play a football game and how it was so fresh and fluid to play, of course Konami are going to be wary of changing it too much. But I can’t help but feel that the things they’ve ‘Fixed’ and included this time around don’t warrant a year’s worth of development time. The defence system is still annoying and unresponsive at times and the new modes are great additions, but already existed on other version of the game and should’ve appeared in 2008. The graphics could’ve and shoud’ve been improved more and the new ‘moves’ are pretty limited.

Make no mistake, this is a quality football game that utilises the Wii’s controls to maximum efficiency and shows what the Wii offers that no other console can. The new modes add tons more gameplay time to the game and not to mention re-playability. The new, revamped online side of things should be looked at by other games developers in the future and it all remains very rewarding once you’ve learnt the controls. If you didn’t own PES 2008 then I highly recommend you pick up 2009 as it’s basically the updated version. If you had 2008 like I did, then you may find yourself questioning just how much has changed and whether it’s worth the full £30.

Although when it comes down to it, thanks to the additions of Master League and Uefa Champions League, not to mention the Edit mode and online features… I think it is.

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