Pro Evolution Soccer 2012 for the Xbox 360 is published and developed by Konami, noted for developing PES every year; it can be said that this game is still a popular choice for many football fans. PES has always been in direct competition with the renowned FIFA franchise, but will it prove to be the better game this year?
This year PES steps up to the plate with a range of improvements when compared to previous editions. While it may lack most of the official team licenses, it does have the Champions League. The commentary and general atmospheric sounds are well suited to this platform. Visually, in some departments at least, it’s arguably the best looking football game yet. The stadium environments are of excellent quality and very realistic viewing for football enthusiasts. With good quality lighting systems and the excellent use of shadows adding more weight and depth to the stands. The likeness of the players is just as impressive, it appears there has been more of an effort detailing the facial features of the more renowned characters such as Gerrard and Ferdinand.
Player control is where PES differentiates itself from other games in the same genre. The ball is very responsive to the player, so much so you will find yourself attempting to solo the ball (Ronaldo style) when you should be passing the ball to other team mates.
There is a large list of intricate moves to use, for these you are given plenty of practice during practice sessions. Thankfully you can key bind your own personal set of moves to a simple LB + right stick combination to create your own individualized set of Link Feints, making them that much easier to unleash during play. When they work, and you slice between a pair of defenders to free yourself for an open shot in the box, it’s a pretty amazing feeling. Another nice bit of the player control that is new, is the option to use the right stick to select the player you want to receive the pass on free kicks, throw-ins and corner kicks, then make the run and call for the ball yourself.
Passing can come across as a bit problematic in the beginning, as PES uses a power gauge under your player to indicate the strength and height of the pass, shot or throw. The longer you hold the button down the further and higher the ball will travel. On paper it seems easy enough to pull off, but in practice when I was attempting to pass to a player further up the pitch, I found myself passing to a teammate standing only a few yards away; even if I had completely maxed out the meter. This said I would think that this is made difficult on purpose since the game seems too realistic as even the professional players can’t always get the ball to the right spot all the time. I did however find that crossing passes were extremely accurate, which meant a great number of easy headers for goals.
All of the simple but well executed advances like all of the above, along with the returning visual features like motions blur in replays is what makes PES the ultimate competition for FIFA this season. There was one noticeable flaw with the graphics in PES when compared to FIFA, there is a clear lack of animations when the players starts to move; they don’t have the same range of movement as FIFA and this ultimately has a few knock on effects.
PES 2012 exhibits a clear example of player and team AI done right, when you put aside the occasional clunkiness in the animations. Your teammates actually run circles around their FIFA counterparts, often making intelligent and darting runs through the defence; greatly adding to the realism and enjoyment of the game. The scoring opportunities are exactly like the past games; these are done by holding down the shoot button and using the power gauge to determine the amount of power to be put behind the shot. This works fairly well but does take some getting used to on set pieces, as the meter can tend to be inconsistent. Where the amazing AI doesn’t seem to do so well is with the Goalkeeping; which drops the ball quite literally in comparison to your other teammates. You could end up witnessing the Goalkeepers constantly parrying the ball instead of grabbing it, regardless of how it was being delivered.
When you first load up PES you are presented with a Menu System that has an ok music score, however after a time the music can become slightly repetitive and a bit of an annoyance. This is down to the selection being limited to only eleven tracks compared to its competitor having thirty nine. Although this would also depend on your specific taste in music, some might find that the songs that are on offer are ideal, while others may find they are boring and not worth listening too.
With the revamped career mode this time round you may find that you will be spending more time in the menus as previously, with the ability to customize your own avatar, which you can see at the touchline or behind the manager’s desk. Not only does PES offer the normal Become a Legend mode and Master League mode but it now offers an additional Club Boss mode that lets you become the chairman of the club, choosing the right manager for the club and juggling finances. This mode requires unlocking through playing the game normally, but it is a nice breath of fresh air, without actually playing the football matches this becomes a bit like a simpler version of Football Manager.
One feature that does out do FIFA is the player intelligence. Your team mates can now make intelligent runs and dummy the ball if needed. You can also set it so the players will automatically clear the ball in a tough situation. An extraordinary idea that makes it so much more fluid, but there still seems to be that insufficient feeling when scoring on PES. It doesn’t feel distinguished enough but just feels average and well underplayed.
The in game graphics are extremely realistic to a degree. The characters likeliness is so close to being exact that it seems unreal at first it’s just a pity they did not pay more attention to the not so well known players. Stadiums have been created to simulate and feel extremely realistic to the eye.
The audio of the game is ok, however I feel the lack of tracks used is let down, I feel that Konami should of implemented more. The commentary and the background cheers and voices are very well suited to this game, but in my opinion they should improve on this bring the standard level to that of its competitor.
I think that this game is a brilliant new addition to the PES franchise, with all the improvements made, in some cases it does set the standard for other developers to follow or take note. In other areas its can be improved upon by looking towards other football simulated games.
Disclaimer:All scores given within our reviews are based on the artist’s personal opinion; this should in no way impede your decision to purchase the game.