Complementing the improved defensive and attacking controls are several other neat tricks, including the ability to give and go and play one-twos. Admittedly, mastering these took some practice, though perseverance eventually led to pinging the ball around with impressive accuracy. Executing a give-and-go involves point dribbling with the player in possession and then pointing the Wiimote at another player while holding down B and Z. By releasing the B button, you can take this manoeuvre one step further as the receiving player passes the ball back into the original player's path in one fluid movement.
Free-kicks are also worth mentioning. By pressing up or down on the control stick you can define whether to shoot to the left or right corner of the goal. This is followed by a nunchuk swing to make the shooter's boot connect with the ball. Granted, it's a simplistic system, with player stats dictating shot success rather than your own skill, but with goals and shots-on-target far more commonplace than with the frustratingly oversensitive dead-ball shooting mechanisms of the 360 and PS3 versions, this isn't necessarily a bad thing. When defending free-kicks, you also get a chance to position your goalkeeper before the kick is taken, which again is simplistic but fun. Corners are more of a problem, as placing pinpoint crosses onto a player's noggin is currently far too easy, resulting in a torrent of headed goals from corner kicks. Here's hoping this is sorted before release.
While PES 2009 is still being refined, the game is clearly on course to deliver on many of the developer's promises, with a more realistic rendition of the beautiful game seemingly in store. And with the addition of a second control system for co-op play, which allows one player to drag players into space with the Wiimote while a second controls individuals players, the scope for multiplayer entertainment also has the potential to exceed its predecessor.
There's also plenty to look forward to off the pitch, such as the welcome addition of Master League, which is looking much the same as its PS3 and 360 cousins: pick a team, improve your existing players, earn points, buy new players and gun for promotion. Also debuting is the UEFA Champions League, which takes the format you'd expect (group stage followed by two-leg knockout ties) and comes replete with the obligatory official theme tune, rolling ball of stars logo and crap ITV-style intro. And if you enjoyed it last year, you'll no doubt be pleased that Champions Road has renewed its Wii PES membership. Player likenesses appear to be as hit-and-miss as ever: for every lifelike Messi there's a popcorn-haired Kuyt, while in true PES tradition, commentary remains as irritatingly inaccurate as ever.
Despite a smattering of problems, there's plenty of promise here, with numerous new features combining to good effect. If the few remaining bugbears can be ironed out before release then PES fans the world over may finally have something to smile about again.