|System: X360, PS3, Wii||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Konami Tokyo||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Konami||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Nov. 3, 2009||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-4||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Everyone||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
If you are interested in European football, you'll likely not experience many licensing issues after all. Still, the European-centric feel of the title can be off-putting, especially if you enjoy national team squads and competitions; the U.S. men's Nats and the Mexican Seleccion are particularly poorly represented in-game, out of the box. However, unlike the nickel and dime approach of the competition, Konami gives users free base-build and online play updates, including additional licensed teams, updated rosters, and improved player likenesses, for free. All you have to do is go to the system settings options in the top-menu and download the latest build, which will then be automatically applied. Thanks Konami!
Gameplay is as high quality as ever, something the series has always been known for. I noticed that wing play is especially dynamic this year. In fact, delivering crosses and getting on the end of them with strikers in dangerous positions is actually far more intuitive than what's found in the competition. Also, teammate AI does a great job of getting into dangerous spaces, making diagonal runs, and coming back to give you quality supporting options. Interestingly, basic controls are nearly identical to that of FIFA 10 (i.e. very user-friendly), but advanced controls are another story altogether. Unfortunately, some of the button combinations that are needed to perform advanced moves are counterintuitive. While this won't slow you down while playing on regular difficulty, going up in challenge locally, or heading online to play against seriously technical players is daunting. I've got to believe that Konami can do a better job of mapping functions to a more user-friendly control scheme. As it stands, the learning curve is so steep it'll take you hundreds of hours before you can be truly competitive online.
Presentation is very good, but it is generally not quite as excellent as that found in FIFA 10. Player likenesses are accurate (for those players that are licensed), and the handful of available stadiums you can choose from are especially great to look at. The same can be said for animation quality, as players react to the ball and other players realistically; only keepers stand out as reacting artificially. However, time-keeping, radar, score, and player name graphics still look amateurish. Along those same lines, in the default view, players are quite large, which makes them look a bit too much like virtual avatars, whereas FIFA's withdrawn default view makes the game look more like a live television broadcast. . Similarly, the commentary crew of Jon Champion and Mark Lawrenson do a quality job relaying and coloring the action, but something seems to be missing from the overall presentation such that it feels like your playing a game rather than participating in a live football match. Crowd noise is decent, reacting genuinely to the action on the field. However, team-specific chants aren't prevalent, resulting in an audience that does little more than roar at goal-scoring opportunities.
PES 2010 is the best version Konami has put out for home consoles to date. The franchise seems to have matured over the last year, playing like it always should have. The online options are compelling and diverse (though suffer from a spot of lag), and the offline game modes have been refined significantly. While the lack of extensive licensing continues to keep the PES franchise firmly in the number two spot, players that are interested in a European-centric take on footie might not have many qualms in this regard.
CCC Editor / News Director