The home of PES gameplay for the past few years has really been the PlayStation Portable and the PlayStation 2. Sad but true.
I’ve given some attention to the PSP version of PES2009. I’ve played my usual slew of warm-up Exhibition matches, and a couple of International Tournaments, on various difficulty settings.
The graphics are certainly improved from PES2008(PSP). They look smoother, less grainy. The pitches look lovely.
The game’s speed is roughly the same as PES2008(PSP). Possibly a little slower on occasions, but overall no different. Shame. I was hoping for a slower match.
It’s not just me who thinks fast-paced football, 100 mph all the time, is a bit 1990s, is it? Am I being too harsh in suspecting that the trend of the past few years to make football games play at dizzying speeds from one end of the pitch to the other (FIFA08 and UEFA2008 honourably excepted), is a concession to that bogeyman of modern sports gaming, the hypothetical ADD-afflicted 13-year-old?
My traditional first fixture: England vs Scotland, ten minutes, Regular difficulty. Say what you like about PES in recent years (and Lord knows I’ve done that), I still experience a frisson of glee at starting up a new PES for the first time. I won 2-1, with a scrappy couple goals, nothing special. The shooting seemed featherlight. Shots that would have rocketed goalward in PES2008(PSP) instead went at 45 degrees into the virtual stands.
Up to Professional level for my traditional next game against Germany. This is where I ran into a wall. I was still on Professional after a few hours: playing on Professional, and struggling. I was lucky to get 40% possession in most matches. The CPU has an uncanny ability to keep the ball. I can appreciate that saying this is a little like saying ‘water is wet’.
In the family tree of PES games, I think PES2009(PSP—and presumably the PS2 version as well) slots in somewhere between PES5 and PES6. In gameplay terms, I mean—what it plays like, how it handles. Maybe its got PES4’s nose, PES3’s chin, and PES2’s quick temper as well.
One massive drawback for the PSP version, as ever, are the loading times. It can take a couple of minutes to get from one match to the next. Staring at my own grim visage in a darkened screen while the UMD whirs away is not something I should be doing to this extent, I feel. It’s pretty poor in-game as well, with cut-scenes and substitutions entailing frequent, infuriating pauses in the action. Waiting 10 seconds just to see a linesman raise his flag? 20 seconds to bring on two substitutes? Not good enough.
My PSP is one of the old ‘phat’ ones (bought on PSP launch day 4 years ago), but I can’t imagine the loading times being much better on the newer slim models. It’s almost enough to make me want to get a UMD-less PSP Go when they come out—but at that price? No. I love my games and my games consoles, but there is a limit, even for me.
Overall, PES2009(PSP) is a good game, probably just as good as PES2008(PSP), but I’m already split between too many games as it is. No matter how great this new handheld PES experience might be, I’ve got no room to accommodate it in my gaming life right now.
It’s so tempting to start up a Master League career to tide me over the next few difficult months to PES2010 and FIFA10. But several factors are against that right now.
The number 1 reason is that my PSP is occupied for the foreseeable future. Another game lives inside it, and won’t be coming out much—if at all. For I have other grand gaming passions beside PES, and one of them is called Monster Hunter. This franchise, although big in Japan, is hardly known at all in the West. I’m one of its adherents. The latest MH game—Monster Hunter Freedom Unite—just came out last month, and it has more or less lived in my PSP ever since. I racked up 90 hours on the previous MH game and even so I barely scratched its surface (500-1000 hours’ playtime isn’t unusual in the MH community). So I’m going to be busy with the new one.
Another reason why I won’t be burrowing into PES2009(PSP) just yet is that I also have a perfectly fine ML career going on PES2008(PSP), thank you very much. I’d more or less ‘completed’ this career in year 2021, but after picking it up again a month or two ago, I found that I could barely string two passes toegther. The game is very much back on. I’ll be going back to that when I go back to PES on the PSP (Monster Hunter permitting).
And I also have FIFA09 to be getting on with on the big console. Yes, it has its ups and downs (more downs than ups at the moment), but I’m still getting things out of it that I never thought I would. Some great, satisfying goals for one thing. Friday’s post will feature some more of them.