This has been tested by Simon Butt and myself and, contrary to reviews, it's very encouraging so far.
Reviews have tended to take the view that 'Fifa is better' focussing on the large multiplayer option and the additional authenticity around player and club names. So freakin what. Most important is, of course, gameplay and - to a lesser extent - graphics.
Graphics first, they seem sharper and more defined. Whereas PES6 looked like a console port, this game looks like the graphics were designed on, or for, a PC. Simon suggested this might be due to it being a port from an X-BOX rather than a Playstation. Could be, indeed.
Gameplay, it's not hugely changed, but there are lots of small changes that add up to a lot when taken all-together and will take some time to master. We dived straight into Top Player. Key thing is that the engine seems more supporting of the 'beautiful game' as in inter-play and one-touch football are more rewarded than sheer pace and strength. Off the ball movement, timing and vision are more important then getting the ball to a really fast, strong player and pressing Sprint. This is good. Through ball seems to be nerfed quite heavily; it's much harder to get behind the opposition, particularly on the wings (good, because it made PES6 rather one-dimensional). Having said this, LOFTED through ball is now much more deadly, making it possible to produce killer chips over the top to your Thierry Henry-type striker in the same way that the bastard AI always did to you.
There seem to be more goals possible; indirect free kicks are now as dangerous as corners, and we already got one goal from a direct free kick whereas this used to be a 1 in 100 chance. The star players seem a little less dominant (which is also good) so our customary game of Holland vs Portugal is no longer about Van Nistelroy vs Ronaldo and fuck everyone else.
Another thing I have noticed is that KO2-style block tackles are now a factor and it even makes a Final Whistle-eqsue 'oooff' sound when you do one. It's now a lot more important to disposess people by simply standing in the way.
Couple of things I wasn't so keen on.... when form is Random, it's now a LOT more likely that you'll get a Purple arrow, ie terrible form, making a player unusable. When you're England and you get this on Terry and Ferdinand, what the hell are you supposed to do. Secondly, players now seem a lot more one-footed. Third, it used to be possible to turn on the ball by holding R1 as the forward pass was received, and running onto it. It doesn't seem to work any more.
Player AI seems a little tuned up; during our first intensive test session there wasn't a single horrific own goal caused by player AI and/or momentum. Likewise there is much less of players stupidly chasing the ball off the pitch rather than keeping it in play.
Finally, the England squad is now up to date, which (sadly) means that Michael Owen is not so great. Oddly, Heskey isn't in the default squad, and there seems to be an excess of defensive midfielders (Hargreaves, Barry, Carrick) all competing for one space. Main addition appears to be David Bentley who, although a utility player, seems to play every game for us due to the high chance of 1-2 of Beckham, Walcott, Cole getting a Purple Arrow.
I'd be interested to hear the experiences of others with this game, plus any learnings or techniques discovered.
Jacob.... I believe it's now possible for 2 players to play from the same location against 1-2 online opponents. If you can find someone in Sweden to come round to your place, then Simon and I can take you on in a co-operative 2v2.
Talk about everything but Kick Off.
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