Pro Evolution Soccer 2012 review
The best PES in a long, long time
PES2012 is the most recent iteration of the long-running Pro Evolution Soccer/Winning Eleven series by Konami. At this point, PES is known as the secondary football game for most players of football video games. However, there was a time when PES ruled the genre, and it could be said this ended in 2006 with the release of PES6, incidentally the final version of the game before the PS3 came out. Since then, Konami seem to have rested on that status as the leader of the genre, whilst EA's FIFA franchise has stormed from the shadows to take a huge lead. However, this latest version gives hope to those loyal PES fans that they might have a few more people to play the game with this time next year.
I must admit, I only bought the game this July, nine months after the release of the game. I'm a FIFA convert myself, but do my best to always buy PES at some point. Admittedly, there have been a few recent occasions when I have done this solely to laugh at the gulf in quality between the two games; PES2008 and 2009 being material top comedians could only dream of. This has started to change though. I actually buy these games in anticipation of a pleasant experience, a change from the hectic and often frustrating community of the FIFA franchise. It seems that PES is the game for football purists, who believe in playing games to play the beautiful game as it is intended, rather than for a quick and easy pick up game.
I will say this now; PES2012 is not a pickup and play game suitable for the most casual of football fans. It caters to the hardcore, patient fans, who are happy to strategically try to break down defensive walls of opposition teams, even if sometimes it doesn't reveal much success. It is, you could say, the playing equivalent to Sports Interactive's Football Manager series, albeit much less profound. It requires a lot of thought and a knowledge of the players you are using.
One thing PES has always had the upper hand with is the individuality of each AI controlled team. It feels that each game you play is different to the previous. One example was my first match on PES2012, playing as Liverpool (or Merseyside Red, more on that later) against Manchester United. Instantly, United set out to play a quick game along the floor in order to get their quick wingers out wide to drill crosses towards their strikers, and they were persistent with this style of play, even when going a couple of goals behind. Then, I played against Stoke City (Potteries) who preferred to play the ball high towards their strikers, one of which being 6"7 Peter Crouch who was used to head the ball down to the wingers or other strikers, or attempt a shot on goal themselves. This is something EA's rivalling product never offers, something fans have called 'Poor Man's Barcelona' as each team plays a possessive game.
The only real negative side of PES2012 I can offer is the reason for which most people prefer to buy FIFA ahead of PES; licensing. Only two of the Premier League's 20 teams are licensed, and the rest feature falsified names, although to real football fans these are rather obvious. Fortunately though, for those who are so concerned with such an issue, one can download an Option File online which usually fix all of the licensing issues. That being said, the game is massively licensed in other departments. Leagues such as the Italian Serie A, Spanish La Liga, French Ligue 1 as well as the Copa Libertadores, UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League mean an awful lot of effort into offering an authentic item has been made by Konami.
It's fair to say that PES is still behind FIFA, but with EA seeming to have contracted Konami Syndrome and beginning to rest on what they already have, it's possible that Konami could soon reclaim top spot from EA. Very soon.
The demo for PES2013 will be released on July 25th 2012, and the full game will be released in October.
About the author
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