Pro Evolution Soccer 2012 review (PS3)

PES 2012 is a football game the gives you a lot of choice – and it starts off pretty much immediately, when you need to decide which mode you want to play and which league you want to play in. Your options here are either the UEFA Champions League, or the Copa Libertadores – which are the only licensed leagues featured in the game.

The Master League is also an option, and is one of the most extensive career modes that I have ever seen in a soccer title; here you have the choice of guiding a team of nobodies to fame and glory – play as an up-and-coming star, or deal with the stresses of being a club owner.

Gameplay

Right from the start, you can’t help but notice that dribbling is really easy – and if your team has a star player like Ronaldo or Messi, you won’t have any problem beating through defenders with a run down-field, and striking the ball for a glorious goal. When on the offense – the options feel almost limitless as you are given a lot of space to move around in.


The AI is also intelligent enough to send one of your teammates into the open spaces to overcome the defenders on their own. If the AI doesn’t send your teammates where you want them to go, you can do it yourself and guide them through the defense to take a shot at goal. All this can be done whilst still keeping control and possession with another player.

Yes that’s right, you can control two players at once!

While this can prove to be tricky in the beginning, you will get the hang of it after a few attempts, and then you can set up some mind-blowing scoring opportunities.

On defense, however, you must hope (and sometimes wish) for a misplaced pass or an error in judgement from the other team. Getting the ball away from the opposition is difficult – this is due to the fact the dribbling is really sensitive and your player can change direction if he so much as touches a blade of grass.

This makes using something like the sliding tackle a useless option because of the player movements required to execute it.

The referees are also very whistle happy, and any sort of ill-timed tackle will result into a free kick for your opponents. The goal keepers are also reluctant to catch the ball cleanly; they prefer to punch or deflect the ball – rather than catching it and giving you the option of what to do next.

When the ball ricochets from a successful defender challenge – it really could go anywhere (at the speed of light!) – sometimes to your advantage and other times into a retreating player’s possession, or simply into no-man’s land.

Graphics

The in-game menu graphics are brilliant – and so are the player likenesses. The customisation options are vast and when you design your player and avatar for Master League, you’re really spoilt for choice. The pre-game scenes are also well designed and the scenes lead into one another smoothly.

It’s once the whistle blows that the flaws start to show.

The players suddenly look like something you would find in Lego Land. It is very blocky, to say the least, and when going into a sprint the movement of the players, and the speed they move, are not in sync. This means the players’ legs move either faster or slower than the actual movement depicts.

The scenes after scoring a goal are really good, and this is where the player likenesses comes to life. All players look equally as good – and you can see a lot of time has been spent on creating the individual players.

Sound

The sound is as spot-on as Ronaldo on a free kick 20 meters out from goal. [Ed – that means good]

There are enough music tracks to get through – so you don’t have to listen to songs on repeat for the first few hours or so. When a song is eventually repeated, you’ll have forgotten that you’ve already heard it before. Probably.

On-field sounds are great and you can really feel the excitement of the crowd. As you progress in a tournament, the crowd gets more and more rowdy – and when setting up a play, the excitement of the crowd also builds up with the tension.

Sure, there are the normal sounds of the whistle blowing and impacts noises of the striking the ball and it hitting the woodwork – but more could still be added: some on-field calls from the players are missing, and a good addition would have been some sounds when making physical contact with an opposing player.

Online

The online options are very broad – letting you compete in online competitions or just challenging a friend for a quick game. Finding an opponent doesn’t take long – even if FIFA12 out-sold PES2012 by 25 to 1.

The best aspect of online play is the option to grant your opponent a Fair Play rating when the game has finished – this encourages all the players to end a game even when trailing 5 – 0 at half time. You will be penalised if you don’t complete a match, and it will lead to not being able to take part in online competitions.

Conclusion

If you are looking for a simulator and arcade style soccer game combo – this is the option to go for.

It’s loads of fun to play and play some more – and you will still be playing the game when the next one is being released. I can’t help but feel that the game is not 100% complete, though, and lacks some finesse when it comes to dribbling, making tackles and the in-game graphics.

With a little bit more time spent on these aspect, the next PES title should be a force to be reckoned with.

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Pro Evolution Soccer 2012 review (PS3)

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