So you now have more control of your player, but what about the ball? After all, the round thing you kick about is core to football and how you distribute it will determine your success. Passes and shots now use a power system, with a visible bar displayed under your player. You can also manually aim every kick by holding down L2. I won't lie; it takes a lot of getting used to. Even after I'd put in a day messing about with the game, nailing passes hadn't quite clicked. I'm sure it will though, as the improvement from my first attempt to my last was quite apparent.
Keeping the ball down when shooting is also something to be aware of. Player position in relation to the ball, your stronger foot, timing and power all need to be taken into account or else you'll find yourself sitting through plenty of tedious goalless games. Currently AI players don't make the runs I'd like them to, which makes breaking down opposition defences extremely hard, but hopefully this can be rectified in the coming months.
PES has fallen some way behind FIFA in terms of presentation, and while this year's iteration isn't going to suddenly propel it into the lead, it's a damn sight better looking than the previous efforts we've seen on this generation of consoles. Player faces look excellent, the lighting inside the stadiums has been vastly improved, animations are smoother and more varied and there's minimal slowdown. One area that could be looked at is the camera, which at times struggles to keep up with the ball - hopefully nothing that can't be fixed. I'm not so hopeful when it comes to in-game commentary, which barring a miracle will be just as bad as it's always been.
Every new version of a sports title requires hours and hours of practice before it starts to click, and with PES 2011 it's going to take even longer to work out if Konami has finally upped its game. What's for sure is that things are changing, which, considering the stagnant state PES found itself in, can only be a good thing. At the moment I'm left with the feeling that things are moving in the right direction, even if early impressions indicate we're going to get a considerably tougher experience than what's come before.
PES 2011 is due for release later this year on PS3, Xbox 360 and PC. It'll also be released on PS2, Wii and PSP.