Hey guys, welcome back to what it seems to be the footy days. That's right, because FIFA 09 is launching across all platforms, plus the PES 2009 demo has come out so lots of things to talk about. First of all let me tell you that if you're looking for info about these two games you're in the right place, because I have the chance to try the PC, DS and PSP versions of FIFA 09 and PES 2009 so I'll be posting about these. Yesterday I tried the PC FIFA 09 demo, soon I'll write about the full game, hoping that it will be better than what I've seen so far. Then it'll be the turn of the handheld versions. So stay tuned, more to come!
But let's talk about today's topic: PES 2009 (DEMO).
We all remember last year's edition of Pro Evo with a mixture of disappointment and sadness. The game was a big step backwards compared to PES 6, in graphics style and mostly gameplay. Well, this year Konami seems to have adressed many of our concerns because the demo is pretty good and better than 2008.
For starters, the new menus and interface are clear and good looking and functional. There is all the traditional stuff but of course this demo only features the exhibition mode with four clubs (Liverpool and European Champions Manchester United from EPL, Barçelona and Real Madrid from la Liga) and two national teams (France and World Champions Italy) to choose from. I went straight to a rematch of 2006 World Cup final Italy vs France, but you can obviously mix nationals and clubs and have, for example, Italy vs Man U or Barçelona vs France.
The options were already set in the demo, so I'll go straight to the formation menu, which featured the same options as 2008 so players familiar with the series feel right at home and know exactly how to choose the 11 men, place them in the pitch and give them positions and tactics. The new interface is made with white and bright colours and I found it better looking than the dark one of last year.
Enough with menus now...how does this game play?
I had several matches today trying the different teams and using different formations and tactics and thus far it seems very good and definitely a step in a good direction.
Aesthetically, the style is a bit more realistic which is a very nice choice. Even though I'm running it ad medium details, because I only have shaders 2.0, the game looks pretty good: the jerseys are precisely like the real ones and made with very good textures, animations are smooth and there are no slowdowns during crowded actions like corner kicks etc.
Pitch, stadium and crowd looked pretty good, and I'm sure they'd look better setting the gfx quality to high. The sounds were nothing special, in particular the ref's whistle and the ball (when it gets kicked) sounded not so good but after a couple of matches you completely forget about them. The "pang" of the ball hitting the post or the crossbar is very realistic, but doesn't make you feel better for the missed goal opportunity :P
The gameplay is pretty solid, the pace is well balanced and you can have a good realistic-feeling footy match while still being able to perform quick 1-2 passes and first touches. The AI has been improved, so you can often see both your teammates and your opponents trying to intercept a pass with the tip of their shoe and using their physical strenght to protect the ball or hit a header; goalkeepers will react more quickly and they'll be tougher to beat; your team will better respect the positions you set when doing the formation and react in a more intelligent way in both defence and offence actions; there will be more real life-like situations, as intercepted passes, failed attempt at doing so which end up favouring your opponent, 4 or 5 mixed players battling for the ball possession near the box line and so on.
Shooting seems to be a bit more difficult, in particular because of the better AI that will try to block you or close your way to the net or force you to go more towards the side, so even if you have a great scorer like Benzema or Toni it'll happen that the last defender will slide and intercept your shot sending the ball in corner. It feels quite natural, you'll have to work to score but if you're good and have a good strategy you'll score several goals with relative simplicity. The free kick shooting mechanics seem to be the usual ones with similar refinements as the normal shooting system.
The referee has been improved too, he doesn't punish every small contact but will not go easy on the bad fouls and will also use the advantage rule when it's the case. Please note though that during one of the match I played the ref failed at applying this rule and didn't validate a goal I scored so there is the possibility of him screwing up on the advantage rule and I hope it'll be fixed in the full game.
In the end, I really enjoyed this demo and I really looking forward to the full game. Konami seem to have done the right choices after the 3/4 of a disaster that was PES 2008. Plus the addition of Champions League is a very nice touch and I'm eager to find out about the new "be a legend" mode.
I'll wait for the full games to come out to give a final judgement, but from what I have seen in the demo versions PES 2009 is clearly superior to FIFA 09 on the PC.
that's all for now, sorry if there are typos but it's late and I need sleep :)
if you want to know something in particular, please leave a comment! And stay tuned because very soon I'll post about the full FIFA 09 pc version.