|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|
by Jonathan Marx
As you probably know, EA Sports' FIFA Soccer 10 has been smashing sales records, and not just for soccer but for sports games in general. It's no wonder, because that footie sim is one great game. While I don't typically like to compare one franchise to another (I'd rather judge a game on its own merits), I would be remiss in this case because of the sheer dominance of this year's EA offering. Thankfully, the Pro Evolution Soccer faithful can hold their heads high, as PES 2010 is by far the best console entry Konami has ever made. While it still may be regarded as the red-headed stepchild of soccer titles outside the PC, a lot of craft has gone into the title to make it a quality alternative to FIFA 10.´
The first thing that sticks out is how nicely organized the menus are this year. Rather than wading through overly-complicated menu screens, all the game's options, training, player/team editor, system settings, and gallery items are located on the left side of the screen, while the list of playable modes are listed on the right side of the screen. Getting immediate access to everything PES 2010 has to offer in the top-menu is a snap.
After quickly customizing the settings to your liking, getting into the varied game modes is where you'll want to head to next. Conspicuously, nothing new in terms of modes went into PES 2010. This is often the death knell for sports games, but PES 2010 has refined specific aspects so thoroughly there is still ample reason to think about upgrading. For starters, the game feels like it was developed specifically for consoles, whereas years past have felt like a phoned in PC translation. Next, and most importantly, the format of the online gaming is truly excellent.
As was the case last year, PES 2010 is the officially licensed gaming product of the UEFA Champions League. This year, licensing was also extended to encompass the newly-formed UEFA Europa League competition (formerly known as the UEFA Cup). Playing in Europe's premier inter-league competitions is great, and loyal soccer fans will love the authenticity. Of course, you can also set up simple one-off games in Exhibition (especially good for when friends come over to play), but many solo-players will want to head into Master League for a deeper more compelling experience. The Master League allows you to take the reins of your favorite clubs as manager by signing, training, and performing with stars and unknown talent.
The Become A Legend mode returns this year, a mode I typically let by the wayside. It has players creating an alter-ego to develop (and even take online) from rookie status to seasoned vet. While I find nurturing one player to be boring in practice, the ability to bring that player into Legends matches online is very tempting indeed (more on online play later). There is also League Cup action, which lets you set up tourneys and leagues without having to deal with the minutia of the Master League. If you've got friends who also pick up PES 2010, getting into the Community functionality is likely an interesting prospect. In Community, you'll essentially create your own competitions and tourneys as if you were playing online, but access is limited to your buddies. You can think of Community as a fantasy league, complete with in-depth record and stat keeping.
The best, most refined bit of PES 2010 is that of online play. VS. Match is heads up competition. In Legends, you'll be able to team up with others by importing your Become A Legend character. While this has always been fun in the short-term, rampant ball-hog issues tend to taint the overall, long-term appeal. Still, bringing your virtual persona online helps give the PES community a deeper sense of who you are as a gamer. I really enjoyed the Competition mode. These online, scheduled, developer-hosted tourneys let you strut your stuff to see which one of the entrants is the top dog. Through these varied modes and personal data files, Konami has done a great job of establishing a real sense of community. The incredibly deep stat tracking and persistent ranking system across all forms of competition gives online play some real hooks. Unfortunately, the only downfall of online play is that we experienced a minor yet persistent amount of lag. Since we play tethered to 12 MB broadband, we're sure it's not issue with our connection. Likely, considering the diverse group of players picking up PES 2010, some members of the online community are slowing down the experience.
As always, PES players have the nagging licensing issues to deal with. The deep team/player editor allows you to circumvent this problem by tweaking stats and changing names, but this is quite a chore for less-committed gamers. That being said, there is a surprising amount of licensed players and teams Konami brings to the table.