PES 2010

Half-time orange?

A year can be a long time in football, something this reviewer, as a Notts County fan, knows only too well. But heck, who knows? This time next year, Sven-Goran Eriksson could be managing North Korea and our Meadow Lane ground could be razed to make way for a sausage factory. But then such unpredictability is what got us all hooked in the first place, right?

Conversely, a year in Pro Evo seems to fly by, and the results are sadly all too predictable. PES 2010 is barely distinguishable from the 2009 effort, which itself was only released in March - even the press release intended to trumpet this new instalment struggles a bit, eventually resorting to talking about things like how players now raise their hands to solicit a pass.

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Although 2010 is the best PES on Wii almost by definition, veterans will likely find it a bit stale and cynical, and Konami's greed does a disservice to an offshoot that deserves to be remembered as one of the most memorable and innovative series to ever appear on Wii.

But you know what's really a kick in the face of Adebayor-like proportions? It's that Pro Evo Wii, for all its positive aspects, is a series that's firmly in need of a tidy-up, and this rushed follow-up hasn't been given the breathing space to deliver. Being able to conduct an entire team to glory by painting runs and passes onto the pitch is as wholesomely rewarding as it's ever been, but it continues to collapse under the weight of its own ambition at times.

Although the controls work well - certainly much better than they sound on paper, at least1 - they remain overly complicated, and it'll be quite some time before newcomers begin to have fun with the game - many might not even get that far.

Another issue Konami seem unable to address is the game's heavy bias towards attacking play. It's now easier to press the other team's attackers with your defenders, but it's still nowhere near as enjoyable to defend as it to attempt to thread intricate through-balls to your centre forward on the other side of the pitch.

Not only is defending not as much fun, but it's a difficult art to master, too - unless you've put the hours in to perfect your zonal marking skills, the vast majority of experienced online opponents are going to chew you up and spit you out.

On a positive note, free-kicks have been reworked for the better. Added spin and direction can be applied by tilting the remote left or right, and if the setpiece taker is skilful enough, you can hit a 'knuckleball' shot that bobbles and changes direction in mid-air, leaving the keeper clasping at empty air.

PES on Wii as a series is so unlike anything that's ever come before it that it's worth owning a copy even if you own a version of PES on another console. But as good as it may be, this lazy update suggests that Konami are really struggling to kick things on from here.

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The verdict

Excellent, in its own peculiar way, but offers little new if you've got PES 2009. If you have, get Muramasa or Boom Blox or something else great that never sells instead.

Nintendo Wii