It's solid and sturdy growth for PES this year. Konami has progressed its game well, like Fergie seamlessly replacing Man Utd's ageing defenders. Improved AI, added jostling, updated play modes - PES 2012 is fair set for a good season ahead and competes well against EA's alternative. But we wonder if it has the stamina to capture the big prizes?
The zippy, more arcadey passing and shooting continue to thrill, even if the dribbling feels like you're constantly running across a soggy pitch with the ball jerking to a halt after every yard or so.
PES's fast pace always makes for an enjoyable game and there's definitely more physicality in this year's game, with defenders unbalancing strikers and wrestling for possession. We'd like to see strong players have more of an impact still, but this is a big area of improvement.
Konami has also worked on the player AI and it certainly upgrades last year's game. Your teammates are better positioned and will make more intelligent runs for you to pick out using PES's ever trusty through balls. However, one complaint we have is that the AI defence always drops off too deep holding a line around the penalty spot yielding too much space just outside the box.
There are loads of great player animations. It's just a pity there are few, if any, individual animations, with every player running in the same style and making the same body movements. Cutscenes, too, betray a lack of individuality with uni-bodied players all celebrating goals the same way. OK, the developer has decided not to go down the interactive celebration route (a stubborn refusal?) but does every player have to run to the corner flag?
As for our protagonists, they don't quite match the standards set by that other football game. The likenesses are just slightly off, making most players look like humorous lookalikes. And what's with their gaping black mouths when they talk? Brrr.
While the core game is arguably as fun as FIFA's it just lacks the depth to sustain the challenge. The gap has closed. Can PES regroup and build again to really challenge for the top honours next year?
Progress but still the second best footie game going
- More physicality equals more realism
- Improved AI means fewer headless chickens
- Lack of individual animations
- Poor goal celebrations
- Little depth to the gameplay