"It is really up to the user, if he wants to change the settings, to customise their playing style and tactics, that's all up to the user and we do not blame the user. If he doesn't even touch a single setting, he will still enjoy PES 2010."
To a degree he's right. For my money, PES 2010 is the most fluid, instinctive and enjoyable PES probably since PES5. During the media competition the previous night, I come to the game cold, never having had a warm-up match, and manage to win four out of six matches just playing through muscle memory of what's always worked in football games - football. But the fact remains that there's always the sense that you could be doing so much better if the game could only find a way of educating you about it.
The solution? Many are discussed, but one of the more interesting suggestions is a kind of 'interactive training' or 'tutorial exhibition' mode, which would essentially be played like a real match, only one with 'playing assists'. It would stop after key situations, and talk you through what would have happened if you had used different Team Style settings. It could also remember key moments of the match (including set-pieces) so you could rewind, play and practice them again, perfecting moves, tweaking tactics, giving you the chance to benefit from real match situations - something the current training mode is sorely lacking in. Other possibilities touched upon include providing control hints that encourage users to try using more complex manoeuvres, such as feints and shot variations, and taking the time to school them in doing so.
Many players feel that the 'tricks of the trade' in football games are jealously guarded secrets which the elite would rather insert needles into their own eyes than impart on their opponents, making it harder than it needs to be to get better at it. If the game actually has the option to tutor players in a more visible, more user-friendly and more practical manner, it's likely more people would be better at the game, and in turn would notice - and try out - some of the excellent-sounding changes the team work so hard to implement.
Interestingly, Seabass and company appear highly receptive to such suggestions, and come away from the various sessions expressing delight that so much constructive feedback had been gleaned in a short space of time. It's also notable how visible Seabass is at the event in general, taking time to studiously watch players in action for hours on end, impassive from the sidelines, no doubt keeping his fingers crossed that the reaction will be more favourable than last year.
So what of PES 2010 as a game? Technically, it looks extremely slick, with better facial likenesses, real-time lighting, smoother gameplay, swift load times, improved animation, a better front-end, and more licensed teams. Whether that makes it the equal of the mighty FIFA 10, we'll cover in our review tomorrow. One problem that PES 2010 faces is the exact same one FIFA faced for many years - how to convert people who are used to one game's way of doing things. The old issue was that rival football games became so refined that preference became an increasingly subjective decision. The danger last year was that it was an objective one: FIFA was superior.
Will that change this time? Bearing in mind the pace of innovation and reinvention in sports games, it may be too much to achieve in one step. But Konami's attitude bodes well for the future.
PES 2010: Pro Evolution Soccer is due out on 23rd October and reviewed on Eurogamer tomorrow morning.