It’s been a number of years since FIFA overtook Pro Evolution Soccer as the industry’s football sim of choice. And considering PES 2012 does precious little to differentiate itself from last year’s iteration, I’m beginning to wonder whether a change of direction might not benefit Konami’s soccer franchise.
Not that there’s a thing wrong with PES 2012. It provides a fantastic replica of the excitement and teeth grinding irritation of the real sport. FIFA just does it better. Lately.
‘Why have PES when you could just have FIFA?’ is an enquiry too often uttered, especially for a franchise with the kind of history Pro Evolution Soccer enjoys.
A fresh focus could prove advantageous, a more arcade feel perhaps. I’m not suggesting it necessarily take a page from Super Mario Strikers’ booklet...
No, that’s actually exactly what I’m suggesting. Perhaps Konami should stop fighting this losing battle and offer players something EA does not. Just maybe without air-raiding Bowser into every match, tilting the entire pitch and burning both teams to ash.
Although, I’m fine with that too...
Are you telling me a few Red Shells wouldn't improve this?
But that’s a question Konami can ask itself in 2012. This year we’re faced with another season of PES’ steep learning curve, dull, irresponsive defending and gradually satisfying progression.
PES 2012 enjoys a few tweaks over last year’s formula, notably its Teammate Control System. This enables players to manoeuvre off-ball teammates to make a break for the box, shake off defenders or, if you’re as resoundingly incompetent as I, plonk them in a wholly disadvantageous position. Mercifully, this agreeable addition features auto-assists.
The AI has also received brain transplants. Now they’ll attack with renewed tactical acuity and defend like a group of Spartans at the Hot Gates. Thankfully, their inexplicable ‘defender-catch up’ has been eliminated, so occasionally storming their gates is a distinct possibility.
This is a goal. If you're new to PES, or simply suck, savor it.
The community feature returns, sundering friendships and forming rivalries around the globe. PES retains its UEFA exclusivity, thus the Champions League, Primera División and sundry other authentic, gruelling competitions can be won.
Unhappily the god-awful Training Mode mars the effort, so unnecessarily difficult I’m not entirely confident it didn’t diminish my skills. That said, the visuals received their mandatory upgrade, while the tweaked physics engine lends a fresh air of believability to your dribbling sprites.
Alike its contemporaries, there’s much to do with the beautiful combination of ball and boot than simple pass and shoot. But said dazzlement is best left to seasoned veterans. Beginners, as ever, will struggle to get the ball off the opposition, let alone score a ruddy goal.
PES’ success comes down to two discreet preferences; do you enjoy footie? Do you prefer Pro Evo to FIFA? No reason you can’t say yes to both. However, after so many years playing second fiddle to its officially licensed brother, I maintain Pro Evolution Soccer could do with a change of focus.
So what’ll it be Konami: More accessible gameplay? Or rocket boots?
Actually, no reason you can’t say yes to both...