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WE 2010: Blue Samurai Wii Impressions

A quiet week regards PES2011 content but a busy one in the PES/WE universe as more people get their hands on the latest Japan-only Blue Samurai instalment of Winning Eleven 2010. With this mind, I thought it worth posting my impressions of the game as the Wii version certainly has some major improvements well worth discussion. 360 degree dribbling/movement in classic PS2 gameplay anyone?

More after the jump!

After a few days of play it strikes me that the Wii’s version of Blue Samurai is the more complete game and natural successor to PES/WE 2009 than what PES/WE 2010 proved to be late last year on the system. This is the third Wii title in little over a year yet the differences between this game and what has come before it are pretty dramatic and are most encouraging indeed for the series future on Ninty’s machine.

First of all, the big one! 360 dribbling/movement arrives on the Wii version of the game is somewhat of a triumph. It is such a triumph in actual fact that this feature in itself is more or less the reason the Wii version is getting some front page TLC from WENB.

This is no simple layering on of 360 dribbling/movement on top of the classic PS2 based engine. It is something that feels as though it has been worked on for some time in order to get it just right. It works well both with/without the ball and the off the ball movment of players seems to have improved. It certainly is far better implemented than it was in PES2010 or even FIFA10 on next-gen in this individuals honest opinion as it actually adds to player individuality. Get a Messi, Kaka, Robinho or Iniesta on the ball and there is a great feeling of power and natural flair to be had and it is all possible via some simple prompts of the stick in conjunction with R1 or R2. No trick stick or similar shenanigans here and it all feels very natural and can generate some genuine “wow!” moments as Messi wriggles his way through two or three opponents with deft little direction changes and feints. It is almost like the game has opened up completely. Even a player like Pirlo or Xavi operating from deep seem to have benefited as you can confidently hold the ball up and twist and turn with subtle movements in order to keep the unwanted attention of your opponent at bay….most of the time.

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Yes, Live Energy makes it return and is still not without some minor annoyances. The positives are that there is a largely well balanced physical side to the game that is represented well visually, thanks to some additional animation(there are a quite a few wee welcome additions in the animation department generally it should be said) but there are arguably too many fouls called for innocuous challenges(if you can even call them that sometimes) that can break the ebb and flow of play. Some fine tuning is still needed here but the game is heading in the right direction.

Passing in the PS2/Wii titles has always been strong and fluid at that remains for this latest title. Whether it is the arrival of 360 movement I am not sure but there does seem to be a sense of having more freedom in passing and this proves to be the case especially in playing lobbed passes. They really are a joy now and when you have a Pirlo or Xavi in control you genuinely feel the difference in their ability to pick out players with more ‘rangey’ passes. The trajectory has been shallowed somewhat and these players can’t half arrow a long pass with precision, pace, and control. What helps of course too, is the off the ball movement, particularly when super-cancelling of the recipient. Add to this as well that there seems to be a tweaking to players ability to react and control an airborne ball(volleyed first time passes/headers for example have been vastly imporved) and you have an experience that feels very organic in nature. I still think that the game could do with a little further tweaking in this area so very subtle, short lobbed passes can be played but as it is there is little to complain about.

Ball physics have been further tweaked so that more dip and swerve seems apparent in passing and strikes on goal(shooting is still very,very satisfying) as well as feeling more lively on the bounce or taking a controlling touch. They(Greyhound and team at Konami) could however still do with looking at the ball physics more so the ball moves a bit more in the air and even on the ground.

Unfortunately one thing hasn’t seen progress in gameplay and that is goalkeepers. It is getting worrying now! I have come to the conclusion that for whatever reason, whether it is design or not, that goalkeepers are programmed too much like outfield players and it hampers the ability for them to tend to the goal confidently. With this in mind I have simply taken to making goalkeepers – at least the good ones – into very good football players overall via the edit mode(unchanged). It seems to help a great deal with their ability but again it is not a drastic improvement over what should not be broken in the first place. The problems with PES’ keepers in recent titles is well documented and I am not about to go over all these problems again but I think the whole community is in agreement that this needs fixed – not merely improved – and that keepers really do need to be their own entity with perhaps their own set of stats and abilities. If the ‘keeps were sorted for this game then you would be reading a review of the game that would be close to scoring it a “very high 9”. I kid you not. That is how important good keepers are in a football game, so please sort it once and for all Konami!

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Visually the game has taken another polish with the 480p up-scaled visuals never having looked better and detail holding reasonably well in wide-cam. Crowds finally look like that – a crowd of fans – and not a terribly lo-res mash-up of coloured pixels. They alas, are not animated but hopefully PES2011 will sort this out. Animations have a nice flow into one another and I swear the running animation for players off the ball has improved. The new 360 degree movement of players also means that there are a few more little transitional moves and alike that help flesh out the overall flow of the game.

All in all the game is progressing along nicely on the Wii system and with the surprise inclusion of 360 movement making it over to what is essentially a polished PS2 version of the game, it suggests Greyhound and his team are not finished yet with eeking out as much they can from the series on Nintendos machine.

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Remember folks, more Blue Samurai content and views can be found in our dedicated thread HERE, in the meantime I am off to win the World Cup with the Blue Samurai!

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