Pro Evolution Soccer 2012 Review for PlayStation 3 (PS3)

Pro Evolution Soccer 2012 Review for PlayStation 3 (PS3)

Have It Your Way

Making a choice between soccer football games has never been easy, and this year is no different, with both Konami and EA vying for the affections of sports gamers. And while FIFA 12 is no slouch, Konami’s Pro Evolution Soccer 2012 has proved itself to be a viable alternative.

For starters, you’ll notice the graphics immediately. Everything from the players on the field to the workers in the outfield are animated fluidly and realistically, which makes the stadiums feel like living, breathing places. The players—even the ones controlled by A.I.—move with a sense of urgency. It makes the matches genuinely exciting to play through.

Pro Evolution Soccer 2012 Screenshot

There are little touches here and there that also enhance the presentation, as each match is treated as an authentic broadcast. For instance, the actual gameplay runs at 60 frames per second. However, during replays, which take place in true broadcast fashion (with fancy network-style graphics and all), the frame rate is reduced to represent something closer to what you’d see during an actual game. This adds an air of authenticity that currently isn’t present in any other available soccer game. Post-goal player interaction shows just how well the game looks and feels. You get the sense that the players are living beings and not digital approximations of their real-life counterparts.

Prior to starting your first match you’ll be asked to create a player. You can either start from scratch or use an existing player as a starting point. Either way, the customization options are so extensive that the possible variations are basically endless. For example, there are more than 100 goal celebrations you can choose from for your avatar. The deep sense of customization carries over into the various game modes that you can choose from once you’ve started, so players are free to enjoy the game exactly as they please.

Pro Evolution Soccer 2012 Screenshot

The improvements that Konami made out on the field won’t go unnoticed either. Players now have the ability to control two players on the field simultaneously in offensive and defensive play, allowing for some widely dynamic gameplay. While this type of addition might sound daunting for a first-time player, there’s also a wide variety of assists that can be activated to make the experience easier to handle. Newer players will also appreciate the training grounds, with a series of challenges built around specific tasks help to hone the skills necessary to be competitive and to gain a better understanding of how the game works.

As you progress through the game you’ll earn points for purchasing all sorts of in-game items. Things like classic teams, parts for the Stadium Creator, or entire games modes can be unlocked if you have enough points. It’s an interesting idea that will definitely keep things fresh.

What I really like about the presentation, though, is that I can’t shake that feeling that what I’m watching (it’s running in the background as I’m writing this) is authentic. It’s partly due to the excellent in-game collision detection, (it’s not so great during player celebrations for some reason), partly due to the unbelievably lifelike player animation, and partly due to the extremely well-implemented gameplay mechanics.

Pro Evolution Soccer 2012 Screenshot

Aside from all things visual, there are a number of key competitions that are included, like the Copa Santander Libertadores and the UEFA Championship that both fans of the series and the sport will recognize. Konami’s execution on these fronts is what keeps fans coming back for more. And while I’m usually not a fan of annualized series, I have to concede that this title is one that’s definitely worth picking up.

That’s not to say that it’s without faults, though. The menus can be a bit confusing if you’re not already familiar with the sport. If you do manage to find out what league your favorite team is in, there’s still a chance you won’t find them. Unlike FIFA 12, there are quite a few teams that aren’t included in this year’s edition of Pro Evolution Soccer. While that may not be a problem for most, it means that fans of teams like Chivas de Guadalajara or Puebla won’t have a chance to play through matches with their favorite team. For the teams that make the cut, there are a few discrepancies regarding player appearance. While Manchester United’s Wayne Rooney is vaguely recognizable, AC Milan’s Christian Abbiati has a full head of hair for some reason. Players would be forgiven for mistaking Kevin-Prince Boateng with, well, anyone really. It’s that bad.

The audio, on the other hand, is top notch. The match commentators seem genuinely aware of what’s happening on the field, more fully immersing the player in the game. Players can be heard communicating with one another, and the ambient noise of the crowd adds a lot to the experience. Even ball contact sounds convincingly weighty—not fake or unauthentic in any way.

Pro Evolution Soccer 2012 Screenshot

There were a few instances when I saw the A.I. do some things that were a bit questionable, but for the most part, computer-controlled players are exceptional at anticipating a play and reacting accordingly. This is especially apparent when controlling a single player during Football Life, PES 2012’s career mode, or while watching an exhibition match controlled entirely by the A.I.

All things considered, PES 2012 is a great game for die-hard fans of the sport. The mechanics that have made the series great in years past have made a return, while new additions like offensive off-ball control add an almost endless number of ways players can attack and score. Customization options allow for newcomers and veterans to approach the title however they choose, provided they can navigate the menus. Things like Create a Stadium and Football Life, as well as the various online options, should keep players busy until next season. If you’re a fan of soccer games, there’s absolutely no reason not to pick this one up.

Players move beautifully and interact realistically. The presentation on the field is top notch, though the menus can be challenging to navigate. 4.9 Control
Controls are fluid, responsive, and fully customizable. 4.2 Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
The commentators are great, and everything from the stands to the action on the pitch sounds great. I could have done without the techno soundtrack, though. 4.0 Play Value
There’s a lot to do. You could completely ignore parts of the game and be fully satisfied only to discover them later. 4.5 Overall Rating – Must Buy
Not an average. See Rating legend below for a final score breakdown.

Review Rating Legend
0.1 – 1.9 = Avoid 2.5 – 2.9 = Average 3.5 – 3.9 = Good 4.5 – 4.9 = Must Buy
2.0 – 2.4 = Poor 3.0 – 3.4 = Fair 4.0 – 4.4 = Great 5.0 = The Best

Game Features:

  • Play with your favorite teams from the Copa Santander Libertadores and the UEFA Champions League.
  • Take total control of a second teammate and dominate your opponents.
  • Experience the new Active A.I. and graduate to a higher level of play.

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