Pro Evolution Soccer 2011 represents a new chapter in the long-running story of the popular football sim series.
The game features a series of significant, much-needed improvements to PES 2010. Gameplay has been tweaked to improve control, more game modes have been added, and the graphics and overall presentation of Pro Evolution Soccer 2011 are breathtaking.
The biggest changes in Pro Evolution Soccer 2011 are to be found in its gameplay. The last couple of PES releases were panned for not innovating on the game mechanics, and for making silly little changes that only served to hamper playability. This time, developer Konami has essentially ripped out the game engine and fashioned a new way to play Pro Evolution.
Passing is one of the most immediately obvious improvements in Pro Evolution Soccer 2011. In previous versions, passing the ball to a team-mate was quite a rigid experience, with the ball being drawn automatically to the receiver’s feet. Now when you make a short or a long pass, you need to be much more aware of where you want the ball to go, directing the ball precisely with the d-pad as you hit it. Use of the new power meter that appears under the player is crucial for weighting passes. With the right combination of direction and power Pro Evolution Soccer 2011 lets you play satisfying balls into space for a player to run on to.
Defensive controls have also been tweaked in Pro Evolution Soccer 2011 so they rely less on AI. Previously, defenders would automatically hone in on attackers (even when not highlighted), whereas now it’s up to you to bring them out, apply pressure or let them hang back to hold up play.
Attacking is made more exciting in Pro Evolution Soccer 2011 with the inclusion of assignable feints. There are lots of new flicks, tricks and moves to try out, and you can pre-select which ones you want to use, assigning them to a particular analog stick gesture.
More power to you
Make no mistake, Pro Evoltuion Soccer 2011’s new gameplay system is tricky to master and requires lots of sharpness and concentration. But this is very refreshing given the last few iterations have felt sluggish and automated. One of our favorite improvements was the way the system no longer remembers button presses for so long when the ball is about to be received by a player you’re controlling. This makes it easier to pull out of a tackle or change the direction of a pass before you make it.
The tactics system in Pro Evolution Soccer 2011 has been revamped as well. The confusing card-based player profile system from PES 2010 has gone. It has been replaced by a more intelligent, less confusing interface, where formations and player roles can be set by dragging and dropping their icons around the pitch board.
Out on the pitch, Pro Evolution Soccer 2011 is, for us, the most realistic looking football game to date. Player movements are slick and feel natural, and the flight of the ball is much more authentic than the dead-weighted pig bladder of previous versions. Up close, player likenesses are accurate, although Konami still seems to have a problem with mouths, and everyone looks like they’ve got a mouthful of stones.
There are several new games modes in Pro Evolution Soccer 2011, including new competitions such as the Copa Libertadores and UEFA Super Cup. Interestingly, there’s now also the option to play Master League online.
Presumably an effort to keep up with FIFA 10’s expandable content, Pro Evolution Soccer 2011 includes a range of fun extras to play with. There’s a stadium editor and league editor, as well as more comical stuff like the ability to turn the ball into a piece of candy, or deck your players out in cowboy hats and other accessories.
Licensing is one area where Pro Evolution Soccer 2011 is still lagging behind FIFA. Sure, it now has the UEFA and CONMEBIOL tie-ins, but the major leagues of Europe are still not fully licensed, meaning more fake names and made-up leagues for PES fans. Pro Evolution Soccer 2011 is a game that deserves to have the full rights afforded to FIFA.
Pro Evolution Soccer 2011 is a true return to form for Konami, offering an authentic football experience that FIFA 11 will find it hard to match.