Konami are bringing PES back with the 2012 edition shooting onto consoles in October. As a series known for it’s detail in accuracy, the PES series has come to be known as a safe bet for enthusiasts.
So how does PES 2012 stack up, and does it feature enough incentive for you to buy it? We have the full review of the Xbox 360 version below.
PES 2012 combines everything you’ve come to expect from modern soccer games with the fun and social aspects of the classic games in the same franchise. Visually, the game is supurb – a better looking football game will be hard to come by (and yes, this includes FIFA). Stadiums look real, grass is well defined and the lighting is a testament to the skill of the folks over at Konami.
The overall look and feel of the game is dark, with night time matches looking especially great. The blacks, greys and blues of the menu give the game a nice, polished feel. This is translated nicely to the character design, which features both real-life players from all teams and a character creator which allows you to make your own avatar anyway you see fit.
Movement of the characters varies greatly depending on what they’re doing. While the animation is always realistic and doesn’t miss a beat, performing acts like dribbling the ball feels choppy and stilted. This, thankfully, isn’t the case for all actions – kicking, attacking, passing, etc, are all done smoothly. The overall physics and range of motion the game offers isn’t the best on the market when you compare it to the new FIFA title, for example, but it hold up against such comparisons nicely.
Where the game shines though is in the accuracy of the soccer experience overall. Konami have left no stones unturned. There are several modes on offer for different styles of matches which pair you against a variety of different teams. Each match starts with a player tactical positioning screen, allowing you to fully customise your strategy heading into the match.
From there, the players you aren’t controlling are taken over by the AI. While this has been an annoying mess in the pass, the game’s “Active AI” makes your team mates smart – they no longer make dumbarse moves like running away randomly or flocking towards the ball. The computer players change their strategy on the fly based on the game’s circumstance and I’m happy to report this works incredibly well. In fact, going back to that FIFA comparison, PES knocks it out of the park when it comes to AI. The only exception is the goal keepers, who remain as thick as door knobs.
PES 2012 also includes a new system called “Off the Ball Control”. This is perhaps the best thing to happen to sporting games since the invention of the motion control. It basically allows you to highlight any player at any time with the right control stick. This means you can better control the entire match by knowing exactly who you’ll control after you pass the ball. While it takes some getting used to, sports fans will no doubt see huge value in this seemingly simple addition.
For the true hardcore soccer fan, Konami has added in “Football Life” mode which includes Master League, “Become a Legend” and brand new “Club Boss” mode. These are story progress modes and sees you taking a player from an absolute nobody to an inevitable somebody whereas Club Boss puts you in the manager’s office, controlling a club financially. Cut scenes have been included this year which is a nice addition.
PES 2012 is a welcome addition to the series. While the tried and true formular is indeed present, the game offers enough in terms of sophisticated artificial intelligence, customisation and overall quality to make it stand out as a serious contender for your hard earned dough.