An interesting first game that gave me a bit to think about. I played a bit like West Brom – solid and reliable but without any noticeable flair or panache. If I’m going to get the most out of PES, I need to learn some of the tricks of the trade.
Fortunately then a Training mode is available for noobs like me. There are two modes available – Skills Training and Free Training. The former walks you through a series of specific activities from the most basic short passing to shooting, pressing, crossing and various control options. The latter sets you up in a practice match environment, letting you put your new found abilities to the test against some mobile training dummies.
Within Skills Training, the routines are split across Beginner, Intermediate, Advanced and Expert, working up from the bread and butter controls to the top end tricks. I have no qualms over my relative lack of experience at PES so we’ll start at Beginner and work our way up.
We start off dribbling through sets of cones with points awarded for completing the task within the timescale and extra points awarded for each second saved. After a few attempts I max out the gold trophy. I must’ve picked something up! Passing next and we take control of 4 players in a box, trying to keep the ball away from an escalating number of opposition players, requiring not only accurate passing but reaction speed.
Shooting training is especially helpful for me. Diving into the control menu I remind myself that a squeeze of R2 offers a controlled shot. With the exercise awarding extra points for hitting the corners of the net, a well placed curler is the difference between gold and bronze awards. more practically, it provides some extra confidence in the most important aspect of the game in a real match situation, that of scoring goals. That I only achieve the silver award goes some way to explaining my difficulties in facing higher level competition, especially online. Similarly crossing reveals some deficiencies. Basic taps of circle are fine, as are double taps for a low cross but an R2 inspired high cross proves more troublesome. Sprint finishes are no problem (albeit somewhat reckless) and that closes out the basic skills.
So far so simple and, crossing aside, things that I have a reasonable grasp of. To intermediate we go then and we start with through balls, which have long been my favoured way to create scoring chances, reflected by a quick and easy gold trophy, whilst apparently I’m an expert penalty taker. Who knew? My slide tackles proved to be somewhat more accurate in training than a matchday situation whereas my lofted passes went astray more often than an unscrupulous lothario. Given its rudimentary nature I expected to be better at clearing the ball but my headers seemed to always go back into a potential area of attack. And we round out with a lesson in close control, a squeeze of R2 whilst dribbling sticking the ball on a piece of proverbial string, although at the expense of a turn of pace.
These are a really effective way of memorising the controls. There is a lot to take on board to truly master the game and these training sessions are superbly implemented. For proper new players, these skills sessions are an essential first port of call to avoid the game feeling overwhelming. For someone like me, who has dipped a toe in without ever going swimming in the deep end, the basic and intermediate sessions act as both helpful reminder and a chance to learn new skills. I feel more confident about my shooting and crossing abilities whilst reaffirmed in the areas of tackling and through balls. This has been time well spent.