As I played my first game in Pro Evolution Soccer 2012, I began to remember the reasons why I enjoyed the PES games so much back in the days of the PS2. The action on the pitch was fast and free-flowing, but then the more I played, the more little annoying features started to surface and I realised why FIFA is the game of choice nowadays.
Firstly let’s have a look at some of the new features added to the 2012 version of the game.
The update that impacts the game most has to be the Active AI. The Active AI feature means that the AI will make smarter decisions, and will move and act in a more realistic fashion on the field. It was evident from the first match that the AI players were making great runs, with forwards opening up room for themselves inside the 18 yard box as well as fullbacks making forward and making overlapping runs when the team was attacking. In defence, you’ll notice the players holding the line and defending as a unit.
The smarter AI plays is most useful in the Become a Legend mode, where the AI teammates do well in tracking your movements and supply some great through balls. It was also nice to be able to execute a nice 1-2 movement, where the AI player would receive the ball, hold the ball up a moment and supply a nice deft touch to you as you run into the penalty box.
Another new feature introduced in PES 2012 is the ability to control off the ball players in certain situations. The game allows you take over the actions of players other than the player with the ball in dead ball situations such as goal kicks, corners, free kicks and throw-ins. This allows you to move the player into an optimum position and be better positioned to receive the ball. The players are selected with the right thumb stick, a very efficient and easy way to select players, and this feature has also been implemented when selecting players while defending. This makes it quicker and easier to select a certain player when trying to bring an end to an attacking raid. Of course, the option to change players the old way is still available.
The game looks quite nice, with excellently detailed models of several of the high profile names in the sport like Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo and Wayne Rooney. Even the lesser known players have had their likeness captured in the game, which is a nice touch. Unfortunately, the player models lack that certain spark and realism of the player models in FIFA 12. The stadiums look great, and the game has obtained the licenses for some of the biggest stadiums in the world, such as Old Trafford and the San Siro.
Lack of licenses has always been the game’s Achilles heel, and once again Pro Evo lacks several leagues and teams. It does include the French Ligue 1, the Dutch Eredivisie and the Spanish Liga BBVA, as well as Manchester United and Tottenham from the Premier League, which in this game is called the English League. On a positive note, the game does include the majority of the players from all over the world.
PES 2012 includes several game modes, including playing in the UEFA Champions League and Copa Santander Libertadores, as well as three career mode games, which have been grouped under the banner of Football Life. They are Master League, Become a Legend and the newest addition – Club Boss. Master League and Become a Legend basically is the same as last year, with no major updates. I did have a gripe with the inability to skip the rest of the match after being subbed off in games in Become a Legend mode. Instead I had to sit through the rest of the game, albeit in fast forward mode.
In Club Boss, which needs to be unlocked first with 100 PES points, you take on the role of Club Chairman and undertake the running of the club. The idea sounds interesting, but I found that this mode was the least interactive out of the three. You have no role to play in the actual games, as well as team management or strategy. You can be the meddling boss, and “offer” the manager your ideas, but that’s the extent of it. The only real input you have is in areas where monetary input is needed, like supplying funds for marketing. You do though, have the power to fire and hire managers. There’s also the option to attend and watch matches, but I found it got boring after a few games of just watching, so I ended up turning off the option to attend.
The three modes include cut-scenes to keep you updated in your chosen careers. Depending on the mode an agent, coach or personal assistant will act as your guide throughout the game. The cut-scenes are a nice touch, but become very repetitive quickly. The guide that has useful information throughout is the Coach in Master League, as he will offer you an informative rundown of upcoming opponents, like their strategies and players to watch. The modes offer some nice features like the ability to communicate with players or managers, but unfortunately the modes lack depth and are too basic, and are no match in terms of depth against the Career mode in FIFA 12.
PES 2012 is genuinely a fun game to play, and includes some nice features like the Active AI and Off the Ball controls. Most importantly, it is a step forward from last year’s game, but is still not up to the standard that the FIFA games have set.