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Review: Pro Evolution Soccer 2012 (PS3)

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Review: Pro Evolution Soccer 2012 (PS3)

Pro Evolution Soccer had a triumphant reboot with its 2011 edition that took the series back to its mid-2000s heights. Its successor, Pro Evolution Soccer 2012 (now available at Amazon), has been out for consoles (PS3 and Xbox 360) for the past month in North America. We’ve spent the last couple of weeks playing PES 2012 offline and online. Here are our thoughts on what we found to be a fun, free-flowing and option-rich soccer video game on the Playstation 3 console.

After last year’s redesigned user interface for Pro Evolution soccer, there were no major changes for Pro Evolution Soccer 2011. The apparently Mac / iPad-inspired horizontal main menu is back and just as modern and intuitive to use as it was last year for navigating around PES.

Player animation and likeness have improved slightly from last year’s edition with just about every big name player in the world from PES 2012 coverboys Cristiano Ronaldo and Neymar to the USA’s Clint Dempsey easily recognizable. Stadiums looks just as great with several (including Old Trafford) apparently reworked to provide greater detail.

Pro Evolution Soccer 2012 Trailer Video and Screenshots

Game Modes
The game modes that have been a staple of the Pro Evolution Soccer series for the past ten editions of the game are all back for 2012. These include the International Cup, European Cup, a number of major European league competitions (including the Portuguese Liga for the first time ever), the UEFA Champions League and the Copa Libertadores.

PES’ extremely popular Master League is also present and better than ever as part of the game’s Football Life mode. The new option has three choices — Become a Legend, Master League and Club Boss. While each is a full gaming experience in of itself, we favored Become a Legend and Master League as they allowed for actual gameplay as opposed to Club Boss where you are a chairman running the business end of the club.

Pro Evolution Soccer 2012 Screenshots and Gameplay Video

While the premise of Master League is what it always was, this mode is now revamped and will involve you more than ever. It now includes a series of football management features such as youth team player details, demands for players to address their concerns and a scrolling calendar showing changes in player form and fatigue. There is also now animation of the team manager’s conversations with a trusted assistant on going ons with the team, upcoming matches and how the chairman views your performance.

Pro Evolution Soccer 2012 Trailer Video and Screenshots

Game Play
As with just about everything else in Pro Evolution Soccer 2012, the gameplay of the game is an evolved and refined version of what was delivered in PES 2011. Given that PES 2011’s gameplay is what made it a successful series reboot, improving it was the perfect thing to do. These are what we thought to be the standout gameplay improvements of PES 2012.

Smarter Player Runs
Supporting player runs on offence from midfielders, forwards and fullbacks are the best that we have ever seen in a soccer game (Pro Evolution Soccer or EA Sports FIFA). No trigger is needed on attack for this to happen as long as you are not playing in with an All Out Defence game plan. Also, the better the team, the better the runs will be. These runs make through balls to forwards and attacking midfielders extremely effective when timed correctly. In fact, we think that the through balls of Pro Evolution Soccer 2012 trump those of all of its predecessors.

Pro Evolution Soccer 2012 Screenshots and Gameplay Video

Teammate Control System
This is an innovative addition to Pro Evolution Soccer that allows the user to control two players at once with his left and right joysticks. It is a bit difficult to master so spend some time in the Training mode of PES before trying it in game situations. Once mastered, it can be used to prompt supporting runs and draw defenders with one player while another other holds the ball up.

Pro Evolution Soccer 2012 Trailer Video and Screenshots

360° Motion
This is another feature that was part of the PES 2011 reboot. While it worked well in last year’s version for moving players in any direction while on or off the ball, this year it seems more fluid, graceful and natural and is as good at the FIFA 2012 360° motion system.

Improved Defence
Defence is better than ever in Pro Evolution Soccer 2011 and makes the days when groups of three defenders would crowd around attackers in a pack in PES 2010 long forgotten. Again PES 2012 offers an improvement on the smartened defences of the 2011 game with very effective zonal defences and man on man marking that aligns with the strategy you select in your game plan. While panic clearances still occur, there are much more interceptions of errant and anticipated passes in Pro Evolution Soccer 2012.

Pro Evolution Soccer 2012 Trailer Video and Screenshots

There is also a much greater level of physicality among both user and the computer’s or AI’s defenders. Now expect even speedy forwards to be subjected to even more jostling, pushing and straight arms holding then back than ever before. This is particularly common at the more advanced levels of the game.

Earlier versions of the Pro Evolution Soccer series were plagued with online lagging. This got better last year and now seems to be gone for the most part. The gameplay works as well it does in the offline version of PES 2012 but of course depends on the skill level of your opponent. With Master League Online and Legends now integral parts of the PES series, you can lose yourself in the online version of Pro Evolution Soccer 2012 for hours at end. You can also sign up to have your performance posted on the myPES Facebook app.

Pro Evolution Soccer 2012 Trailer Video and Screenshots

One nicety of the online version of the game is that it features updated team rosters while the offline version does not. We’re eagerly awaiting the next PES 2012 update so that we can see Manuel Neuer at Bayern Munich and Juan Mata at Chelsea.

Without a doubt, Pro Evolution Soccer 2012 is the best of the series so far. The game’s development team has done an excellent job of building upon last year’s true reboot of a storied series for the better. There is nothing groundbreaking in it but instead, it is chock full of soccer intricacies that true fans of the beautiful game will appreciate for the next year until PES 2013 is released. Pro Evolution Soccer 2012 is truly Football Evolved.

Gameplay: 9.5 /10
Graphics: 9.5 /10
User Interface: 10 / 10
Online Features: 9.5 / 10
Longevity: 9.5 / 10

Thanks to Jay for making this review possible!

Check out our Video Games section for more on EA Sports FIFA 12 and Pro Evolution Soccer 2012 as we heading into the Christmas video game shopping period.

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