Friday, January 9, 2009

Ben Brackett's PES 2009 (PS2) Review

In what should be the first of many contributions by people other than me, Ben Brackett reviews Pro Evolution Soccer 2009 for Playstation 2. I am currently waiting on my version of the game for my newly purchased XBOX 360 and am pretty hyped about it. Ben Brackett was an All-Ivy defender/midfielder for Brown University from 2003-2007 and enjoys playing darts (the soccer version), long walks on the beach, and sandwiches with a lot of mayo. He has been a frequent contributer to (google him) and is pretty much the man. Check out his All-Winning Eleven team below and his full review after the jump.

Here is Ben's Pro Evolution 2009 “Winning Eleven” with notes (Positions are in order from left to right):

Gk: Edwin Van der Sar

D: Gael Clichy, Carles Puyol, Rio Ferdinand, Danny Alves

MF: Messi, Yaya Toure, Cesc Fabregas, Steven Gerrard

F: Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Thierry Henry

On the Travel Roster:

Theo Walcott
Sergio Ramos
Ronaldinho (he’s back, Ladies and Gents)

**Notice, this is a free-flowing 4-4-2 with wing backs that will give us width going forward and good cover in the back. I have dominating center backs that are sheltered by a strong central midfield (hopefully the future Arsenal midfield) with some serious attacking prowess in my front 4. Zlatan, Messi, and Gerrard (free Stevie G!!) form a formidable front line with Henry all the way up top to stretch defenses. You’ll see that my first 11, as well as my bench, is very versatile and capable of interchanging under any circumstances (red players, blue players, etc.)**

Written by Ben Brackett

I’ve been mulling over a metaphor for comparison of the FIFA gaming series to the Pro Evolution/Winning Eleven gaming series now for a few weeks. The more and more I beat it up in my brain, the more and more I continue coming back to fact that it’s really the difference between Top Sirloin and Filet Mingon. Additionally, you’re looking at something like MTV music vs. rock and roll or underground hip-hop. But seriously, the difference is in quality. Whilst you may not have perfect likeness in the characters, the subtleties of the game and the gameplay itself totally wins out. If this is a game you haven’t played, play it. If you have, buy it. If you’re a junkie like me, crack a beer and spend some time.

As you turn on the game, you’ll find that it’s very similar in its entrance scene and menu to other versions. The music has been upgraded in that it isn’t ALL cheesy techno. There is, however, some techno. Otherwise, there is nothing earth-shattering. Of course there are updated rosters, updated player ratings, you know the works. Unfortunately, no Bayern Munich or German teams period and the EPL team names are still all f**ked up. It’s pretty easy to figure out who’s who if you follow the game, but if not, you just go online and google “pro evolution team names” and you’ll be all set.

There are some little improvements that are noticeable to a connoisseur like myself. Goalkeepers have gotten much better on crosses and reaction saves. There are less ‘keeper blunders (Dave Semenzas on the Sting Rays) and there’s the ability to start a counter at quicker speed. The AI has shown tremendous improvement as well, which is difficult at first to attack against, but it isn’t an unbreakable code. The AI is also apparent on the other side of the ball as well. Where an opposing team will normally just get it wide, get to the end line, and cross it (or cut it back and cross it), they quickly change their tactics if you defend with a little courage and block wide service.

The most refreshing part of the game is the re-emergence of the requirement to be fluent in R2-ing. R2-ing is an art form – a lost and forgotten part of the (video) game that tends to fall by the wayside when rookies pick it up. It is R2-ing that sets the game a part and in the same breath, is one of the most realistic facets of PES/WE 2009.

**side note – R2-ing is the ability to control your player and, more or less, emphasize certain players’ ability to showcase their strength, speed, and balance**

As an avid soccer player in real life, I take this to be where I find my competitive advantage. The ability to defend individually and collectively is enhanced and, as was mentioned prior, the game’s AI has significantly increased. This has given the gamers’ control over team shape and defensive pressure a real boost. Conversely, on the other side of the ball it becomes possible to change players’ runs and really body defenders in an attempt to win balls and spark the counter.

There is also an extremely cool (seriously the only way to describe it) new feature where you can build your own player and, from first person POV, manage his development from age 17 on. You are beamed into a low level professional game and must put in a good performance in front of big-European scouts. This is where my character scored an own goal, yet redeemed himself by scoring the equalizer and helping himself to Man of the Match honors. From there, you are given the opportunity to progress through the ranks by taking a contract with a totally shite team where you have to prove yourself as a sub, earn a starting role, and go from there. Eventually, you are able to play for the big names and get called in to the national team, etc., but you must cut your teeth a little bit first.

Personally, I haven’t spent a large amount of time on this feature. Along with the first person POV, you can also pick to play this feature in a normal gameplay mode, but you can only control your player. Additionally, you still have Master League mode and the World Tour mode, both of which are very enjoyable ways to spend a few hours (or days) a week.

The greatest part about the Pro Evolution/Winning Eleven series is the way it has evolved (no pun intended). I began playing Winning Eleven 6 and every year, Konami comes out with what is basically the EXACT same game with fantastic improvements. It’s almost like they are sitting around with me and my buddies drinking beer and playing winner-stays-on and we’re simultaneously critiquing the game. Every little thing that we enjoy or dislike seems to be taken into consideration. Cheers to another great one.

No comments: