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Future instalments in the Pro Evolution Soccer series could work with new motion control technology such as Project Natal and the PS3 magic wand.
It's telling that both Activision and EA are now saying much the same thing: Wii games can't just be PS3 and 360 ports with madcap control schemes stretched over downgraded visuals. EA is making greater strides - Boom Blox and Tiger Woods 09 are particular standouts - while Activision boss Bobby Kotick said recently: "I think we can do a better job of creating original content for the Wii, and I think you'll see more of that this year." What must be galling for both is that Konami blithely did it the wrong way with Pro Evolution Soccer last year, constructing an absurdly complicated set of controls that used every button and gesture the Wiimote and nunchuk can conjure, and won almost nothing but plaudits.
The key to its success wasn't the underlying PES framework - increasingly maligned on PS3 and 360 anyway, and rendered virtually moribund by EA's towering FIFA 09 just a few months ago - but the way that the game allowed players to break free of the shackles of direct control. Football is a team sport, and a lot of the most exciting and beautiful things that happen on the pitch are down to players positioning themselves intelligently, anticipating their team-mates' actions, and improvising as a group. In short, all the things that have traditionally been forced to the periphery by the need to focus on the man with the ball. It's possible to play proper team football in PES and FIFA on PS3 and 360, but PES Wii allowed players to control more of the team at once without having to rely on AI team-mates second-guessing your intentions at exactly the right moment.
PES 2009 for Wii is a cautious evolutionary step forward. After demanding so much persistence and concentration in the early stages last year in order to master Pull and Point Dribbling, never mind the various advanced skill techniques and variations, this is a game of refinement. There are new attacking options like one-twos and give-and-gos, which sound horrible on paper (while Point Dribbling, hold Z and press B to pass the ball, then continue your run), but which anybody with a couple of hours of PES Wii under their taped ankles and Vaporubbed chests will absorb relatively ably, while a new option to direct a shot with the pointer and B button is about as simple and intuitive an update as this spin-off series is ever likely to deploy.
Konami has announced plans to host a special get-together for members of PES Rankings, the official Pro Evolution Soccer League.
After the disappointing Pro Evolution Soccer 2009 (360 and PS3) gave us a grazing kick to the ball bags, we've been hoping that the Wii translation would finally give us something to smile about, especially after last year's version proved to be the only genuinely innovative offering from the otherwise ailing series.
Konami plans to offer a free team-sheet update for Pro Evolution Soccer 2009 on PC, PS3 and Xbox 360 at the end of February.
This tracks all the shuffling of the January transfer window. So Arshavin will now be at Arsenal, Tottenham will have most of their old players back, Emile Heskey will lumber around for Villa and Liverpool will carry on being unconvincing. It's quite fun when Tom's not here.
The update also tweaks thousands of player statistics to represent their performance over the first half of the season. Apparently there will be around 200 extra players added, too.
So round one to FIFA then. A hard fought victory it may have been, but FIFA's superior player fluidity, robustness and buffed visuals gave it the edge in the single-player and local multiplayer department over its more rigid, aesthetically inferior rival. Time then for the return leg, only this time it's PES's Legends mode taking on FIFA's 10 vs. 10 online multiplayer.
Pro Evolution Soccer 2009 has burst into the UK All-Formats Chart at number one this week, shoulder-charging genre rival FIFA 09 down to number two.
Konami plans to update Pro Evolution Soccer 2009 with new licensed teams and current transfer data in early November. The publisher's announcement suggests it applies to 360, PS3 and PC versions.
Spanish sides Athletico Madrid, Sevilla, Racing Santander and Valladolid join the list of licensed teams, which already includes Liverpool and Manchester United from the English Premier League.
The patch will also update kits and squads for many teams in the game, hopefully putting Berbatov on Man United's books and reinstalling Shevchenko away from Chelsea, to pick on the most noticeable ones.
In hindsight, we'd go one further. The myth that EA makes the bimbo football game and Konami makes the cultured one is - to return to the note upon which we began our FIFA 09 review - thoroughly dead. But that doesn't necessarily mean the same is now true in reverse. FIFA 09 may be excellent, and the last few Pro Evolutions have gone backwards, but what of PES 2009?
At its heart, we suspect, lie many of the same lines of code that drove the success of the series on PS2 for so many seasons, because the fundamentals are unchanged: player movement is on eight directions (with in-betweens during sprints), passing is zippy, and ball movement is physically convincing, if a little heavy. The graphics reinforce the impression that PES is reliant on existing content and assets, too, because despite the usual claim that it's "undergone a stunning graphical update", movement animations are wooden and repetitive, and the players look more like they've undergone a stunning facial beating under a railway bridge.
FIFA, by inevitable comparison, is so smoothly plastered with graphical Polyfilla that almost every angle of ball receipt, every tweak of the analogue stick, is covered by an appropriate animation, which frees the players and football to move organically in ways that PES wouldn't countenance. It's not quite that perfect, but the fact is we used to talk about the difference between PES' loose ball and FIFA's gluey boots, and these days it's the difference between PES' grids of movement and FIFA's cloud of possibilities. No wonder Peter Moore's crowing about the review scores.
BioShock and Pro Evolution Soccer 2009 demos lead a meaty PSN update this week.
They're followed by PSN game GEON, which costs GBP 4.99 and received 6/10 on Xbox Live Arcade last September.
Those FIFA 09 Adidas Live Season subscription packs are also available, either at GBP 4.99 for one league, or GBP 12.99 for all seven. The idea is that EA watches real matches to determine player performance and then allows you to download updates that replicate this in FIFA 09's exhibition matches, ranked online and Interactive League games. Don't get in a huff about the cost though - you get one free sub with the game.
Konami has popped out a PC demo of Pro Evolution Soccer 2009 to go alongside the previously announced PS3 and 360 versions, also out today.
Konami has said that a Pro Evolution Soccer 2009 demo will be released for PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 and PC this Thursday, 2nd October.
Konami has secured the exclusive rights to the UEFA Champions League for Pro Evolution Soccer 2009 and has agreed terms with Liverpool and Manchester United to include licensed versions of each team in the game.
Liverpool and Man United line up officially.
Champions League, you're having a laugh.
Conferences, trophies, smelly socks.
Completely rebuilt or so we're told.
Microsoft has confirmed our earlier report that it plans to release a new Xbox 360 controller with an improved d-pad on 24th October.
We found the pad and photographed it on Konami's Pro Evolution Soccer stand, and Microsoft confirms the pad is "optimised" for the football series.
"The new limited-edition green wireless controller offers enhancements to d-Pad functionality, which will add to the experience of playing games where the d-Pad is the primary control mechanism," Microsoft told Eurogamer.
Microsoft is set to release a new Xbox 360 controller with an upgraded d-pad, a third-party publisher has told Eurogamer at Games Convention.
Konami claims to have "pulled out all the stops" in order to make Pro Evolution Soccer 2009 a "landmark in footballing games" as part of a raft of feature announcements today.
Konami has confirmed a Wii version of Pro Evolution Soccer 2009 is currently in development.
Key additions to this instalment will include an enhanced shooting system, said to offer "more control while remaining as easy to use as last year's version". The defensive elements of the game have also been reworked, so you should have more control over defenders and opportunities to fend off attacks.
There's a new AI system, so apparently you can expect "more sophisticated and intuitive movement" from players. There will be different control methods to "cater for a wide range of play styles".
Everybody looks slightly older.
Konami has confirmed a new instalment in the Pro Evolution Soccer series will be released this autumn.
PES 2009 is in development for PS2, PS3, PSP, PC and Xbox 360. It's said to feature "a raft of extensive new additions" that will make it more like actually playing actual football than ever before.
You can expect improved graphics, so players look and move even more like their real-life counterparts. There will be new options so you can tailor the game to suit you, plus new moves, control elements and online elements.