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Playstation 3 Review: Pro Evolution Soccer 2012

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Except for American football, pretty much every other sport has at least two competitive video games for sports role-playing fans. What we refer to as soccer in the United States is no exception. 

The more popular game here is the somewhat arcade-styled FIFA, published by EA.  Besides the less technical gameplay, EA’s ability to secure official licenses puts Konami’s soccer sim at a disadvantage.  No LA Galaxy, Chivas USA or any of the other teams or players the more casual American soccer fans know are to be found in Pro Evolution Soccer 2012, which features Christiano Ronaldo and Neymar on the cover.

With so much stacked against them and with what many fans felt was a declining franchise, Konami was determined to give global football fans a realistic, immersive and playable take on the soccer.  According to Konami, creative producer Shingo “Seabass” Takatsuka went seeking out feedback from fans across the globe and worked non-stop on marrying the digital game to the real life game.  

All elements of the game were up for review – defense, offense, AI, penalties, officiating and graphics. The result of all of the hard work is a much better game than last year’s and a game that allows soccer fans an unprecedented level of control.

Konami promised a lot of improvements in Pro Evolution Soccer 2012 and for the most part was able to deliver.  The new teammate control system introduces a feature where a secondary player may be controlled with the right analog stick.

Manual and assisted versions of the feature allow players to make runs on the fly and shake off defenders before calling for the ball.  Collision detection has been overhauled and the graphics have been updated, making movements, facial representations a little more authentic although, the lack of licenses takes away some of the impact.  The technophile and early adopter crowd of soccer fans will enjoy the well-executed 3D support.

Pro Evolution Soccer 2011 is all about the realistic soccer gameplay and if that is what you’re looking for, you’ll be happy.  Everything starts with creating an avatar and the game allows for a good amount of customization.  Once you’ve created your player (that will also work as your starting point to the “Become a Legend” mode) and set your playing preferences, you can get to playing. 

The contextual controls requires six and a half pages to show everything you’re able to do with the dual shock controller although, on the easy mode, Square to shoot and X and O for passing will give you a starting point.  There is a training mode but those that aren’t used to the controls will need to spend time working on the challenges.

The main menu gives you the choice of Exhibition, UEFA Champions League, and Copa Santander Libertadores for local play.  The Master League and unlockable Club Boss modes will give gamers the management perspective. 

Of course, no sports game now is relevant without online play and Pro Evolution Soccer 2012 has a fairly robust online offering, even allowing the Master League to be played online.  For those wanting to display their soccer gaming cred, Facebook is well integrated into the online community portion of the game, as well.

3D helps make Pro Evolution Soccer 2012 an immersive experience and mastering the controls will give players a sense of accomplishment not found in many sports games.  Unfortunately, the lack of league and player licenses fight against what would otherwise be an unmatched sense of realism, at least for American soccer fans. 

Past issues with the Pro Evolution series have nearly knocked Konami out of the soccer game but, PES 2012 fixes and polishes much of what was wrong with the recent entries.  Make no mistake, this game is probably not for the casual fan but, those who love the sport and are looking for something less arcade-y than EA’s offering will appreciate the deep gameplay.

 
Pro Evolution Soccer 2012 is rated E (Everyone) by the ESRB This game can also be found on: PS2, PS3, PSP, Wii, and Xbox 360.


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About Lance Roth

Lance Roth has over 10 years experience in the video game industry. He has worked in a number of capacities within the industry and currently provides development and strategy consulting. He participated in all of the major console launches since the Dreamcast. This videogame resume goes all of the way back to when they were written in DOS. You can contact Lance at RPGameX.com or rpgamex@gmail.com.