PSP Review – PES 2011

Konami’s Pro Evolution Soccer series on the PlayStation Portable has always, in the eyes of many gamers including myself, remained triumphant over the FIFA counterpart. As is the case with every annual release, the latest installment in the series Pro Evolution Soccer 2011 has made its way onto the PSP in hopes of delivering a satisfying gameplay experience, wherever you may be.

The handheld market is often dismissed by many gamers due to the console counterparts boasting better gameplay and controls. Thankfully, this simply isn’t the case with the PSP Soccer game market, namely the PES handheld series. Konami has, once again, successfully transferred its console version of PES 2011 with a delightful experience to be had.

The gameplay has seen improvements which in-general deliver a satisfying experience which is something expected and indeed delivered from the handheld version of previous games in the series. The passing system has been tweaked to the point where ‘through balls’ can be played to a team mate with a high success rate, whilst long balls are more difficult to execute. With Konami deciding that passes no longer automatically fire to the feet of the team mate on the console version, you would expect the same useful and more challenging feature would be replicated on the PSP version. This sadly is not the case with the auto-passing feature making a return, thus making it a tad too easy for you to pass the ball to any of your team mates.

For newcomers, the learning curve for the game is much more indulgent than you would find in last year’s installment. Players will find no difficulty in quickly getting accustomed to the gameplay and soon you’ll be thrashing the opposition one match after another. Then we have the fatigue system where a player’s stamina is eventually restricted. You’ll notice each player will progressively get slower due to exhaustion as the match progresses, so substitutions are critical.

On top of some of the omissions already mentioned, another head scratching one was one that is present and useful on the console version, the drag and drop substitution mechanic which made the selection of players easy and accessible. Although the method used on the PSP version of PES 2011 isn’t bad by any means, it would leave one to ponder why the developer didn’t decide to implement it within the game.

While PES 2011 doesn’t boast the greatest visuals, it does enough. Menus and information are presented clearly, players look like their real-life counterparts which is showcased particularly well during goal celebrations. Sure, it doesn’t match the graphical attributes that its console counterpart has, but PES 2011 on the PSP is still, nevertheless, a good-looking game with noticeable level of detail on the game’s animations.

The audio in the portable version of the game is clear and suit the general atmosphere of the title. Crowds chanting at the right time is something worth praising and it’s executed very well within the game’s more famous stadiums. Commentators Jim Beglin and John Champion make a return and deliver some great commentary with the occasional hiccups.

PES 2011’s play value is really where it delivers and will be a main selling point. Given the fact that you can take this game anywhere with you, you’ll have hours of enjoyment with the satisfying gameplay. There’s also multiplayer functionality via ad-hoc mode, which sees real-life players going against each other. Additionally, there’s the intriguing aspect of a four player mode which can be hectic but is a nice touch.

Pro Evolution Soccer 2011 for the PSP is far from a perfect transfer from the console version of PES 2011, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it doesn’t deliver an excellent overall gameplay experience. The gameplay has seen some tweaks that ensure the game once again triumphs the portable version of FIFA 11. Although some omissions are puzzling, it shouldn’t detract from what the game does manage to muster. If you already own the console version of the game and don’t really travel then you’re probably better off without the handheld version.  However, if you do travel regularly and enjoy soccer on the go then PES 2011 will satisfy your football fix wherever you are.

PlayStation LifeStyle’s Final Score

+ Gameplay tweaks deliver a satisfying experience.

+ Great visuals and clear audio.

– Omission of features is puzzling.

8 out of 10