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PES 2011 (Pro Evolution Soccer 2011) PS3 Review - -

Gameplay 8.0
Graphics 9.0
Sound 8.0
Value 8.0
Distributor: Mindscape
Review Date:
October 2010
Jamie Kirk


PES 2011
(Pro Evolution Soccer 2011)

Poor Pro Evolution Soccer, you really have to feel for it. Long regarded as the football purists game, for those that wanted a game that played like the real thing even if it didnít had the licenses and presentation slickness that FIFA had. But times have changed, and while Pro Evolution seemed to rest on its laurels, content that it was the superior playing game, FIFA has gone through a remarkable transformation. From what was once a pale imitation of the beautiful game, to one that tried to ape Pro Evolution Soccer unsuccessfully, to the game it is today, a refined, realistic and endlessly playable football game. It culminated with last years offerings, where FIFA had its best entry in the series yet, and Pro Evolution Soccer had a game that seemed to fix little of its past issues, and appeared dated by comparison.  Pro Evolution Soccer 2011 promised to overhaul the game and finally bring a true next generation version of the long running series, but have the issues been fixed?

Gladly, for the most part, Konami has delivered on their promise. The game play has been significantly altered, and there are a few new features that will be extremely hard to put down. Letís start with its brand of football, considering that is the main part of the game. There is definitely a lot to like here, it has now added a power meter to its passing which enables greater variety and freedom in the passing game. The shot meter has also been revamped, and takes a while to master. Upon starting the game there will be many balls sailing over the crossbar even though the meter was nowhere closed to full. Of course it can be frustrating at first, but feels very rewarding once it has been mastered. In addition to this there are a whole host of new animations to make the game feel more fluid and realistic. Traps, little touches, runs, and fouls all have nice little touches that keeps in line with the unpredictable at times nature of football. Speaking of fouls, the referees are a lot harsher this time around, which will often result in lots of interruptions to the game. It can be annoying at time, as they seem to have gone a little overboard, and the physical nature of the game feels a little restricted.

This does not mean there are no shortcomings, as there are still a few flaws that need to be ironed out. The crossing system feels a little off, as every ball in the area is whipped in at a frenetic pace. There is no control over the power like with passing and shooting, and feels more assisted as a result. There are also problems with AI assisted team mates, as very often they donít seem to make the necessary runs in order to put together an attacking move. Of course the biggest shortcoming of Pro Evolution Soccer is the one that has been dogging it for years, the lack of official licenses.  This is the main reason that people have stuck to FIFA for years even though back then it was the inferior game. Now it has stepped up, Pro Evolution Soccers lack of licenses is very worrying. But Konami seem to have realised this, and have made the game deeply customisable in order to fix this. If you donít like the idea of playing as the ďMerseyside RedsĒ a quick Google search will find you a host of unofficial edit files that fix kits, team names and stadiums. They have even made crowd chants customisable, so dedicated fans can add a number of team specific chants to really add to the atmosphere. It really is an issue that the licenses arenít there, but Konami have done everything possible to make sure fans have the ability to change that. It is important, and suggests that they listen to the fans opinions seriously.

Konami have also created a rather gorgeous game of football, and one that is on par with, if not better than FIFA. Players look incredibly realistic up close, and it is not just the marquee players such as Wayne Rooney and Lionel Messi. People will find anyone from Jamie Carragher to Gareth Bale faithfully recreated in digital form. In game, the graphics are just as good and bring a very faithful rendition of football to the screen. The presentation is also top notch, including the wealth of tactical options in the game plan menu. It looks great, and is very adaptable, even though the substitution method seems a little fiddly. In addition to this, the game has gone and got itself an excellent soundtrack, provided you like Indie rock. It is large in number, and has a collection of decent tunes. Itís a shame that the commentary is still so weak though. Jon Champion, is this time joined by Jim Beglin, and the results are not that much different from any given year of Pro Evolution Soccer. It is still too stilted and repetitive and remains one of the games weakest parts. If atmosphere is craved, itís probably best to turn it off altogether and put in some authentic crowd chants.

The various game modes are all essentially the same to last years version. This includes the officially licensed Champions League, South American Copa Libertadores, Become a Legend, and the Master League, which is where most hardened veterans will spend their time. The most significant new addition is the online Master League, which will suck hours away of the playerís time.  It works similarly to the offline version,  a team is chosen, and for every result you will be given an amount of money that depends on the result. The money will then be sunk back into the team until a team of world beaters is assembled. It is brilliant, and is one feature that really sets Pro Evolution Soccer apart.

Pro Evolution Soccer 2011 promised a revamp and it delivered in spades. The game play has been overhauled, it looks beautiful, is endlessly customisable (Konami have even entered a number of ridiculous sound effects, player costumes and skins for those with a sense of humour) and is addictive. For veterans of the series, there is no need to worry this time around, Pro Evolution is back and competing. However in terms of faithful adaptations of the beautiful game, FIFA still seems to be edging it out for the moment, and with its official licenses offers more for newcomers. This is a successful step though, and maybe one day Pro Evolution Soccer will be wearing the crown again.


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