PES 2012: Pro Evolution Soccer Review

It’s that time of year again folks, summer is coming to a close and football is in the air. This means one thing: it’s time to get our annual fix of football games, and so enter stage left FIFA 12 and PES 2012. Here, I will guide you through the highs and lows of PES 2012. I will be your referee and sort out the bad tackles from the diving and give it to you straight. The question that fans will ask is: What’s new? And is it worth our cash?

PES 2012 has not only given us the normal updates, but provided gamers with a totally different way to play the beautiful game. For the first time, you can control your player and your AI team mates at the same time. Konamihave been very clever in the features and enhancements they have provided. To try and catch up with FIFA, there is now Active AI, wich means that players will intelligently run into open space and give you the option to either pass the ball to them or their runs as decoys that take defenders away from you and give you a free run to goal (wait haven’t we had this before?).

Using the right stick, you can initiate the team-mate controls which enable you to control your player with the ball, while at the same time also  control the runs a team-mate is making. This is just genius in a football game; no longer do we need to rely on AI players making runs. It is, however, very hard to do, having to try and keep the ball and at the same time move your team-mate is tricky.

Once you master it, however,  team control will be a game changer. It’s a bold step and, for the most part, I think it’s a great success. It’s very refreshing that an annual update gives us such a big overhaul to the gameplay. With this level of control you can literally cross the ball to yourself, and let me tell you, crossing in this game is very accurate and more often than not will result in a goal. This brings me to the next point: the AI of the opposing team is greatly improved from last year. They will not frustrate you, but will beat you in very clever ways. Your team-mate AI is also much better and actually this year, players are genuinely intelligent and make the type of runs you would expect them to make in a real game.

The graphics for PES 2012 are also better than last year, but they are not a good enough improvement in my opinion. The player’s faces can be a mirror of the true players and sometimes appear blocky. When the players are running, their faces sometimes look very weird. It’s true that PES has always purposefully not gone all out on polish and flair and concentrated more on gameplay to beat FIFA. I do wish, however, that they worked more on the overall polish of the game, as this year they could have pushed FIFA not only in gameplay but in graphics as well. The stadiums and crowds are, however, lush, colourful and quite detailed. The player animations are fluid and mostly clear of silly collisions that just look bad.

This year also Konami have got the rights to the UEFA Champions League and Europa League. Now while these competitions are important and very well done in PES 2012, it has to be said that, of course, all the official teams, player names, stats and leagues in FIFA will never be beaten by any game. This licensing issue has taken many fans away from the Pro Evolution franchise. It is somewhat weird to be playing as a team and not seeing their real name or the real names of the players displayed on the screen.

There are many modes on offer in PES 2012. For example, the time swallowing, team building  Master League mode retuns once again, while the ‘Become A Player’ option is basically FIFA’s ‘Be A Pro’ mode and ‘Manager’ mode combined. You can also take part in training and various challenges, and while I did like bending a free kick in the top left hand corner and getting points for it, I must admit that this took me at least 20 attempts. Ultimately, thought, PES 2012 is a game best played online or against your friends next to you. The thrill of using the team-mate controls against your pals is so much fun, and it’s also funny to watch them try and catch your players while you’re running circles around them.

For me there has and will always be something special and different about scoring a goal in PES compared to FIFA. In PES it feels harder and more rewarding to score and you feel a sense of achievement. The power gauge in PES that is seen when your pass or try to score certainly takes some practise to master, as holding circle or square a bit too long and your shot/pass will go miles wide. But there’s a real sense of satisfaction that comes from getting it just right.

Overall, Konami have, I believe, taken a bold leap into the unknown in this annual offering. By giving us the new team-mate control system, there is an added level of complexity very rarely seen in football games. Yes it’s seems a simple thing to do and one that gamers have always wanted, but PES 2012 successfully incorporates this new feature, and it will become second nature once you’ve mastered it’s slightly tricky controls and stopped loosimg one player, or the ball, or both. It should be noted that you can turn off the team-mate controls, but if you do that then I believe you will basically be playing PES 2011 again. I have always thought that PES has an advantage over FIFA in terms of gameplay as the passing is more accurate, the shots are crisper and the movements are dead on. I hope gamers award Konami for PES 2012, as I for one am a fan of innovation in games. PES 2012 is a very good update and the new team-mate control system is genius, now you decided who wins.

REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Sony Playstation 3 code was provided to Brash Games for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to

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Comments (3)

  1. Avatar Liam Pritchard October 7, 2011
  2. Avatar Alan October 7, 2011
  3. Avatar Liam Pritchard October 7, 2011