PES 2011 Hands-On Impressions (Aryel’s View)
GodisaGeek’s first look at PES 2011 was at last months E3, our Editor-in-Chief, Asim Tanvir, brought you his impressions back then with a roughly 60% complete version of the game. GodisaGeek were invited again by Konami to play some PES 2011, this time with a post E3 build at the Konami offices. Myself and Asim jumped at the opportunity to take part in an extended play session which lasted over 3 hours!
There were many questions floating around in my head before playing the game, how free is the passing system? What’s the deal with this new tricks system? Has the game really changed that much? Those questions are about to be answered now. Asim will be posting his updated impressions on Monday, hit the jump to read my impressions now.
As PES 2011 loads up, the first thing that hits you is the sleek black menus which look very tidy. The main menu contains multiple game modes including exhibition, Copa Libertadores, Champions League and all the other game modes you can imagine will be in the full game. We hit the exhibition mode first with a selection of various clubs and international teams at our disposal. The overall presentation of PES 2011 can be described in one word; “Broadcast” – more on that later.
All of our exhibition matches took place in Manchester United’s Old Trafford, the first thing I noticed was the lush green pitch. I could see individual blades of grass popping out of the ground. Good pitch…check. The second visual aspect is the camera, which starts out low for kick-off and picks up as play starts, gliding around the pitch to always give a great view of the action. Good camera…..check. Speaking of the action, the new animations are very impressive. Speed freaks like Messi come alive when a through ball is played, you really notice a change in the little Argentinians run animation when he hits top gear. The way players tumble to the floor when under a heavy challenge impressed me the most, there are a variety of believable “dive” animations from an Henry knee slide to a Ronaldo flop. The most impressive visual moment for me was when I made a crunching challenge, the opposing player went flying , the referee came racing over to brandish a yellow card. It’s hard to describe or explain exactly but it seemed like the whole stadium reacted to the event, it was not just a bad challenge that you forget about, it felt like an important moment in the match.
The whole presentation of the game is just top notch. The replays look so great you will want to watch them over and over again. It’s the little things that make a good game great and it looks like PES 2011 has just the right ingredients in the visuals department.
Engineered for freedom is what they tell us but I wanted to know just how much control players will have to ping the ball across the pitch. If I am honest at first everything felt very automatic, on rails and not really manual. It must have hit me in the second or third game but suddenly I was able to place the ball in front of players or at their feet. I would describe the direction of passes as semi-automatic, the game helps you but you still have choice. The real passing freedom comes from the weight of the ball, the power bar is a skilled players friend allowing delicately weighted balls to be placed where it hurts. You can drop a ball short for a big centre forward to hold up or fizz one across the field into the path of a winger, it’s all at the players disposal. It’s not always how long you hold the button but also how hard you hit it, if you want to just cushion a through ball two yards in front for a strike partner, a gentle stab with triangle is all you need whereas for a driven pass, a sharper longer stab at the pad should do. For any pass you wish to pull off just think what you would do with your feet and do it with your fingers.
Players will be able to ping passes about but only with good passers of the ball that are given too much time and space, think of Germany’s counter attacking moves at this years World Cup. If balls are fizzed in too fast then even the best players will lose control. High balls executed with circle could use some work, they felt a little too sensitive with balls ballooning out of play more often than not. Towards the end of the session my success rate was up but it still didn’t feel right, perhaps I just need to play more. As a whole though, the passing is solid allowing for a lot of variety but even after over three hours of play, I still feel there is more to discover and achieve.
Shooting felt a little too easy at first but that could be down to the keepers (read below). When shooting I tried to push the ball as far into the corner as I could and was pleasantly surprised when the ball went wide, don’t get me wrong I wanted to score but I am glad there is room for error, it’s really important to me that shooting takes skill just like passing. The power bar is very important here too, you want to hit the ball hard but keep it under the bar. The majority of “normal” shots seemed to have a little curl on them (which felt good) but using the R2 button you are able to add extra curl and place the ball rather than thrash at it, much like previous PES games.
The defensive system is another area where PES 2011 has been greatly improved. We highlighted the major new additions in this control scheme post. Tackling is an art form in football and it is portrayed exactly that way in PES 2011. Counter attacks have always been dangerous in PES but now defenders can stand off rather well, holding up the play and allowing for more bodies to get behind the ball. Tackles still need to be timed but I felt that it was much easier to position the back line as a defensive unit. Standing and sliding tackles must be used at the right time otherwise, against a skilled player, you could find yourself in some trouble. Also, the referee is not scared to book a poorly timed standing or sliding challenge, something which will hopefully stop players from constantly slamming the X button to get the ball.
I did not delve too deep into the tricks system but I did attempt a few step-overs and I can say they are not easy to pull off and will take some practice to master. I did manage one moment of brilliance performing two step-overs and an inside drag beating two opponents in the process, you will have to ask Asim why he didn’t stick a foot in sooner but I was glad he didn’t!
I actually had a lot of practice with set pieces around the box, once again, thanks to Asim! The power bar was a little sensitive for shooting and crossing from a set piece but I did get used to it. I managed to come close with a couple of shots and even set up a goal from a corner. The throw-ins are really good, you can throw the ball to feet or into space. Players able to make full use of the power bar will be rewarded with a variety of choices. The penalty system is the same as PES 2010 and something I didn’t like at all. I managed to win two in one game, the first ballooned wide whilst the second was saved after travelling into the exact opposite corner to the one I chose.
The “Game Plan” feature is fantastic, the ability to drag and drop players into a formation is so good you will wonder how you customised formations or tactics before without it. There are pre-set strategies such as attacking, balanced or defensive for players that want to get straight into the action while the manual option allows for full customisation. I liked the fact that you could assign various different roles to players, instructing a defensive midfielder to track back at every opportunity or telling an attacking player to stream forward to whenever he can. The “engineered for freedom” tagline definitely applies here.
The goalkeepers were not fully functional in the build we played and during various occasions they randomly let the ball fly in without even attempting a save but we were told that this was an aspect that is still being worked on. When they did make a save or two, the keepers looked great and reacted to the shots rather well, getting any part of their body on the ball to deflect shots away from goal. It’s hard to comment further with the current state of the goalkeepers but we will be keeping a keen eye on this aspect of PES 2011 when we get our hands on the next build.
It seems like “engineered for freedom” is the correct tagline for this years PES, especially when it comes to the passing. The “hardcore” football gaming fans will really enjoy PES 2011, a game that (importantly) at its core still feels like PES. There are of course little niggles and bugs about but I fully expect the guys over at Konami to sort out these issues in time for its October release. In all honesty, I cannot wait until the game is released…..PES is well and truly back!