PS3 Review – PES 2011

The Pro Evolution Soccer franchise was, and to many still is, the benchmark football game. Ever since PES 08 gamers have criticized developer Konami for making the game too similar to its predecessors, and it needs a complete overhaul for it to start competing again with EA Sports’ FIFA franchise. Listening to the franchise’s most loyal fans Konami has decided to do exactly that and promised to give the latest installment in the Pro Evolution Soccer name, PES 2011, a significant revamp.

With gameplay being a major issue for players of previous installments in the series, Konami has addressed this with Pro Evolution Soccer 2011 right off the bat. As the complaints of the last few titles have been about how the gameplay had dramatically stagnated, players will notice the gameplay has received major additions and changes to make it much more enjoyable and fluid.

The control system has received several tweaks from last year’s PES which has resulted in players finding themselves guiding and pinging the ball more accurately than ever before. This is done by utilizing an all-new power bar situated above the in-game player’s head. By mastering said power bar, players will find themselves directing balls with more power and accuracy, making it a lot easier to be received by a teammate. Although at first this is frustrating, as many passes will often be guided astray, players will eventually start to notice the benefits; controlling the movement of the ball can lead to creating your own passing styles which ultimately has a positive effect on the match.

The new player animations have seen strikingly major improvements as well. The amount of realism it adds to the game is incredible for being a feature that isn’t even controllable by the player. The physical attributes from each player also impacts gameplay. For example, players can be competing for the ball and the person who has the larger physical presence has a better chance to win the ball. However this can lead to a downside in the game, as referees will be strict on fouls. If players endeavour to put pressure on an opponent, they’ll fall down the majority of the time which results in a free kick.

PES 2011 also sees notable visual improvement. Konami’s latest effort truly offers superb graphical pleasures to the players’ eye. Players will notice the footballers’ eyes carefully follow the ball throughout replays. To go along with the lush environments, the on-screen players have an almost uncanny resemblance their real-life counterpart. Sometimes it’s fun to merely sit back and watch the replays, as it looks like a real football game. The onscreen information also presents itself more resourcefully. With past installments in the series, the power bar at the bottom of the screen. This time around in PES 2011 it’s, as mentioned previously, above the player’s head. With all these improvements, some things do tend to suffer. The sound hasn’t seen the major improvements the game’s visuals have had. The commentary team is headed  Jon Champion, while Jim Beglin replaces the previous Mark Lawrenson. But even with this change, the commentary still feels tedious and uninspiring.

PES 2011’s modes are essentially the same to those of PES 2010. Become a Legend and Master League both return, with the notable addition of being given the option to play in the UEFA Super Cup as well as the UEFA Europa League in these modes. The UEFA Champions League mode also returns to PES 2011 and is accompanied by the South American Copa Libertadores tournament. Finally, the fans’ favourite mode, which really makes PES 2011 stand out, is its Master League mode, which although offers a lot to do, feels the same from last year’s PES.

Difficulty is a major factor in PES 2011. Konami has undoubtedly formed a hard game; even regular difficulty settings seem a real chore when playing the AI. It would be an achievement in itself if playing the game it were possible to win a match above 2-0 playing while playing on the regular difficulty setting. Another frustrating point players will encounter several times is that teammates simply don’t seem to make clever runs. One moment you could find yourself in a great position to pass the ball to a teammate but you’ll find that they will hardly run into the area which can create a scoring opportunity.

The online multiplayer component of the game has received a few additions as well. The traditional unranked and ranked matches are available, and new to the series, and a major addition, is Master League Online. The mode gives players the opportunity to compete online with other gamers where you’ll battle it out by bidding for the best footballers and then play against them. Upon choosing your desired team within Master League Online you’ll be given a payment in which your newly earned currency can be used to buy players and enter matches. Prize money being acquired via winning matches allows you to bring more talent into your chosen squad. Overall, this new mode is a very addictive one and adds plenty of value to the title.

Pro Evolution Soccer 2011 has grown leaps and bounds from past installments in Konami’s long running football franchise. Although it is frustrating on many occasions and let downs such as commentary may detract from the overall experience, it still can’t take away the fact that the game has received much-needed improvements, a slew of exciting additions such as the addictive Master League Online, and some top-notch visuals. All of this combined ultimately makes PES 2011 at least a rent for those who are still on the fence. However, while veterans of the series will relish the chance to try out the game – with the same applying to newcomers – if you have FIFA 11, you’d be better off sticking with it instead.

PlayStation LifeStyle’s Final Score

+ Great gameplay improvements

+ Visuals are top notch

Difficulty is frustrating and commentary is lackluster

7 out of 10