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For many years I have been a fan of the Pro Evolution Soccer series (I got given Iss Pro Evolution 2 on Ps1 when it first came out), preffering it over its closest rival, the Fifa series, for its greater realism. It is important to point out that although not all of Pro Evolution Soccer 2011's teams are fully licensed (meaning some of the teams, although resembling their real life counterparts, have fictitious names, whereas Fifa 2011's teams are all licensed, meaning every team has its proper name) in my opinion graphically and gameplay wise it is closer to real life than Fifa 2011. I felt that on the Ps2 the Pro Evolution Soccer series far outstripped any offering given by Fifa (in my opinion, the pinaccle was Pro Evolution Soccer 6), offering a far more realistic and satisfying experience. However, over the recent years the Fifa series has done a lot to reinvent itself, overhauling the gameplay engine, improving graphics and offering generally a very polished product, overtaking the Pro Evolution Soccer series as the better football sim (in my opinion Fifa 2010 Ps3 far outstripped Pro Evolution Soccer 2010 Ps3). Having said all of that, however, I feel that Pro Evolution Soccer Ps3 is a big step forward (definately on a par with Fifa 2011) and I would definately recommend it as a good stand alone game. Likewise, whereas Fifa 2011 is a game that anybody can instantly play, I feel Pro Evolution Soccer 2011 is a game for those that have experience playing football sims.
In my opinion Pro Evolution Soccer 2011 is far better visually than Fifa 2011. Fifa 2011 has fantastic graphics, but in my opinion it is not on a par with Pro Evolution Soccer 2011. Indeed, historically the Pro Evolution Soccer series has always offered fantastic graphics, and Pro Evolution Soccer 2011 is no exception, it is visually stunning. Indeed, well known players are immediately recognisable (rooney, messi, kaka), even not well known players have individual faces (not clones of one another). Similarly, Stadia and crowd graphics have been given an overhaul, providing good depth of realism (pitches are realistic and fans have individual personalities, clothes etc).
In my opinion, Fifa 2011 offers better gameplay (not as realistic as Pro Evolution Soccer 2011, but more instantly accessible to people who are not football computer game veterans). Indeed, Fifa 2011 offers a more fun gameplay experience than Pro Evolution Soccer 2011 (more fluid, not as many stops in play, easy to string together defence splitting passes). Having said that, however,in my opinion Pro Evolution Soccer 2011 offers a far more realistic gameplay (passes can go astray, harder to break down defences as often happens in real life) which makes it not as easily accessible to someone that is picking up a football sim for the first time (as an example my friend's young son found it very difficult to play. Having said that however, Pro Evolution Soccer 2011 does have its gameplay flaws. Indeed, historically, gameplay commentary has always been very poor in the Pro Evolution Soccer series, and, although it is slightly improved, Pro Evolution Soccer 2011 still has very poor commentary (not fluid like it is in Fifa 2011). Similarly the camera angle in Pro evolution Soccer 2011 is very poor (it doesn't keep up with the ball, when the ball is kicked down field).
In my opinion Fifa 2011 Ps3 offers a better online mode than Pro Evolution Soccer 2011 (less glitches - I have lost connection to Pro Evolution Soccer's online server more times than I could care to mention), although neither are particularly great (long waiting times on both, whilst your opponent changes their tactics etc).
In conclusion, I feel Pro Evolution Soccer 2011 Ps3, although not perfect, is a good game. For the fan of football it offers a very realistic football experience,in terms of feel and gameplay (although not all teams are licensed!). My conclusion, when comparing it with its closest rival on the market (Fifa 2011 Ps3) is that for someone who is coming to football games for the first time, Fifa 2011 Ps3 is perfect (fun gameplay, fully licensed teams etc). However, Pro Evolution Soccer, after taking a bit of getting used to (it took me a couple of days to get to grips with all the changes) offers a stisfyingly realistic experience for the hardened football fan. In my opinion, therefore I would recommend Pro Evolution Soccer 2011 Ps3 to a friend.
I still dont understand the whole Fifa v Pro evo debate , Fifa is in not in any way , shape or form a bad game but the graphics , the gameplay, the realism, the whole overall experience of Pro evo is far superior , the last few in the series were basicly the same game with small updates but 2011 is just a way for Konami to start showing off . Alot of my friends still prefer Fifa but i cant understand why, its got such a stiff robotic feel to it where as in Pro evo its such a flowing game , the last time i played Fifa i scored 5 goals all with overhead bicycle kicks , all in the same game and all with peter crouch and all i could think was this would never happen in real life. I kept winning such high scoring games and was told just to up the game level to a harder difficulty but all that means to my mind is that when i play longer and get better ill still be winning high scoring games later on , with Pro evo i was in my 20th ( or so ) season in the game playing the Master league and what i found was anything could happen, it didnt only depend on how good you were you needed to be lucky aswell and take your chances when you got them, the build up play was ace it would sometimes take you a while to create a chance that you were by no means guarrenteed to score , you cant just run up to the goal with one player and shoot you have to be patient, tactful and skillful , some would say that its a very slow game and boring but watch football on tv some games are fast paced and some are slower with moments of glory , some games are 5-0 thrillers and some are 0-0 bores, its the same in pro evo , i had a good team and won most of my games and some games were harder than others and sometimes a game i was sure i would win i would lose or draw ,anything could happen , cup competitions in master league were great because you went into every game thinkin " right i have to win this " no matter who you were up against , any team could have a good day when you were having a bad one a that would be it for another season , the suspence was always there. another thing i found with master league is that i bought very few well known players a fewer stars as the best way to play was to get players in from the youth team or buy young players from elsewhere and train them up and it gave a very personal feeling to the whole thing.
Become a legend was also brilliant playing as one player on a team and earning the respect of your teammates slowly bulding your way up the ladder and once again im brought back to just how real it was , i started on tyneside and shined moved to manchester and did ok ad had an offer to go to barca and took it and realised it was far too soon and spent most of the season on the bench , so i took an offer to go back to a smaller team to play regular , it was so realistic you really had to think about the decisions you made and again the gameplay was fantastic .
The controls are harder than Fifa but thats a good thing , it adds variety to everything , shooting , passing skills and tricks ,outcomes of games, outcomes of competitions , just everything and they are not hard to get used to and when playing against your friends there are so many different things you can try to get the upper hand on your opponent. I will say that penalty taking is very very hard , it took me a very long time to get the hang of that and i still dont have it properly, free kicks are the same very hard to get used to and very hard to score.
Its a game that you will keep coming back to you will never get bored because there is so much to do , Master league and Become a legend are my favories but you have Champions league mode League mode and Exibition on top of that to keep you busy for ages.
the only downsides that i find are the following penalties and free kick taking very hard to get used to and i still dont understand why Pro still doesnt have all the correct names and embelems for the teams i.e we still have "middlebrook , merseyside red " etc. in that aspect and only in that aspect is Fifa ahead of the game .
The debate between Fifa v Pro Evo is very common and not one that im going to attempt to answer in this review. However, as traditionally a fan of fifa, this game came close to converting me.
Pro Evo's game play for me, is actually far more realistic than Fifa. Pro Evo 11 is more difficult, passing is hard to perfect, shooting and finishing are manageable but still difficult. However, in this case i truly believe difficult is good. By being more difficult, pro evo is more realistic. High scoring games that are a regular occurring on fifa are far less common. Some might say this is the problem with pro evo, but i believe that pro evo is a game for those looking for the more realistic experience. One problem with this game, is free kicks and penalties are too difficult, to the extent scoring penalties is almost impossible. Also, for some reason, forwards never manage to run away from defenders, even if clean through on goal. Another minor issue is the referees are incredibly strict, making it difficult to keep eleven men on the pitch.
The graphics on Pro Evo are a major step up than previous versions of the game, but still lag behind the standard set by Fifa. Major players look far more life-like than they have done on previous games and the stadia look more realistic.
The old days of players having false names are gone, but pro evo is yet to have the rights to all the kits and teams. Also pro evo cant compare in the number of teams featured on the game, in comparison to fifa.
The major issue with this game
The commentary is so bad on this game, its almost unbearable. I reached a point where i played this game with headphones in, which is far from ideal.
If you are a genuine football fan, id recommend this game. Maybe not instead of fifa, but aswell. This game is more challenging experience, without the polished, arcade feel of fifa.
Once again the old school favourite delivers. I have been playing this game since it first came out while I was at uni, and it still leads the football gaming genre with the quality of its graphics, realism of play and host of different venue/team/competition/player options. My favourite tournament to play is the Champions League - when the music starts, theres the close up of the players in the tunnel, and then Jon Champion and Jim Beglin start to commentate, you're transported back to the many tuesday and wednesday nights where you've come home from work for a night in watching the footie! As with all versions of Pro-Evo, its very easy to control the players, and though its become harder do master an individual player's tricks (do you remember how easy it used to be to imitate the 'Blanco trick' years ago!?), its still very easy to pick up and you'll soon be able to compete with your more practised friends...
The game's graphics are also incredible, with each player's characteristics very very similar to the real thing, and unlike other games, it doesn't take a long time to load up between games. The play is also realistic - novices will find that at the start defences often end up on top but as you progress you'll find it easier and easier to manipulate attacking options. Its decision to show and when not to show replays is also slightly better than previous editions, as it is seems to have reduced the number of highlights it shows per game, which reduces player frustration and speeds the gameplay up a bit. Its range of teams rivals Football Manager - you can play as a team from all the major leagues and some others besides, and in all the major competitions.
This has, and it seems always will be, heads and shoulders above other games in this genre (though of course Football Manager remains the game for the managers of this world!)
Last year I wrote that reports of Pro Evolution Soccer's demise had been greatly exaggerated; this time round, much the same is true - ignore the hype and the hordes falling to their knees at the feet of FIFA's slick, shiny good looks, this is the real deal when it comes to football simulations. That's the concise version - although in the interests of a slightly more comprehensive review, I'll expand ...
Actually I wasn't entirely bowled over by last year's reinvention of the Pro Evo franchise - largely because, good game though it was, very little had actually been reinvented. Pro Evo 2011, though, is a much-altered beast, with some additions to gameplays that are more broad strokes than tiny tweaks, a graphical overhaul that goes a long way to challenging FIFA's aesthetic supremacy, and a good deal of extra official licensing that in some areas outstrips its rival.
As much as the reworking of the game engine is perhaps the most significant and telling reinvention of this instalment, it's not the most immediately apparent - the all-round presentation's been given its usual spit and polish, and the whole affair hangs together extremely well. Navigation is easy, working your way through the game's substantial options is pretty intuitive, and the new additions to the game quickly catch your eye. First amongst these is the inclusion of the Copa Libertadores; the South American continent's equivalent of the champions league. Just as the UEFA Champions League is fully licensed and branded (with Spurs replacing Liverpool as one of the two official English teams in this year's edition), this competition comes complete with all 2010's entering teams, from Corinthians down to Real Potosi (the highest city in the world, doncha know ...) and its own absurdly catchy theme tune. You'll be humming Ode to Joy until next October at least.
The inclusion of this competition could be seen as a bit of inessential window dressing - after all, who wants a fully-licensed Blooming Santa Cruz when you've still got a Wales team with the likes of Craig Bejasie and Gareth Beal in it? In my book, though, it's a welcome newcomer - PES has always been hugely Eurocentric, leaving the international roots it had in the original ISS '98 well behind, but this is a step towards a more comprehensive experience, and feels the more real and immersive as a result. What's more, PES has straightened up some of the maddening oversights of the last few years' releases, with Germany finally licensed and two of its clubs (Bayern Munich and Werder Bremen) appearing in the game. It's not quite FIFA-levels of obsessive accuracy and attention to real-to-life detail, but it's a major bounce in the right direction.
Also new this year, and boosting a largely impressive edit mode that makes up for some of the non-officialdom of PES, is the Stadium Creator feature. As the name suggests, this allows you to build your own stadia from the ground up and incorporate them into the game. Kind of. In theory, this is the feature which enables you to bring real-world stadia missing from the line-up into the game. In practice, the mode is so restrictive and the design variations so limited that this isn't really the case. There are about six basic designs - of stand, pitch, hoarding and so on - and whilst you can mix-and-match these, there's really not a lot you can create with the mode. It's a great idea, and properly realised, should be a fantastic addition to the game - one hopes future releases will seize upon its genuine potential.
For those obsessive nerds (yup, my hand's up) who spend hours editing the crap out of the game to restore some semblance of realism to affairs, the Team and Player edit features are largely unchanged, although there are a few updates to the player's choices of accessories - undershorts, undershirts and whatnot - and the range of boots available is greatly expanded. All in all, everything's in place to have the game just-so when it comes to actually play it.
All of this begs the question, though - why, when FIFA has all of this already set up, would you spend hours adding the details the game isn't licensed for? Is the gameplay really that much better that it's worth huddling over your TV for days on end trying to find just the right variation of Adidas' stripes for the Chelsea away kit?
Unsurprisingly, the answer - in my eyes at least - is yes. If it wasn't, I'd be writing about FIFA instead. There is, of course, a reason that people keep coming back to PES, and it certainly isn't its official licenses. Although the trademark PES gameplay - realism over beautification, depth over superficial detail - doesn't quite beat FIFA's own bloodied and trembling into a corner as it once did, it's still the better all-round footballing experience, and still the one that genuinely feels like you're playing a game of football, rather than a carefully-choreographed representation.
A lot of what I could say by way of praise about PES's gameplay could apply to most editions of the game - it's superbly designed, it feels "right", it's engaging and engrossing, and it rewards attempts to play in a real-to-life way. The players move like they really do, the ball dynamics are infinitely more realistic than you-know-who's, and the physicality of the game is brought through with wonderful, crunching believability here, something that's really been worked on and noticeable over the last couple of years. But what's new?
Firstly, and most apparently, the game's substantially less forgiving than it was. Where previously, tapping the pass button repeatedly would ping the ball back and forth between your players, doing so now will result in losing possession extremely quickly - or thumping it cloddishly into touch. You now have far greater control over the power and direction of your passing, which is both a blessing and a curse - the latter when supposedly world class players can't return a simple five-yard pass (through, of course, your own failings), and the former when you come to terms with the extent to which you've now got the abilities of your players at your fingertips. The most intuitive and responsive football game out there has just upped things substantially.
Secondly, the repertoire of tricks and flair that each player possesses (or doesn't, in the cases of many ...) is much more accessible this time round. Rather than having to pull off a brain-melting combination of button presses that seemed to belong more on a Megadrive game's title screen than a modern sports game, you can now assign a series of tricks to each direction of the right analogue stick. Bombing down the wing, faced with a lumbering centre-back, you no longer need to fling you fingers around the controller like you've plugged your toe into the mains - a simple, easy couple of flicks and a Matthews Feint flows into a loose-legged Roulette, into a Reverse Scissors and ... so on and so forth. You dance around like a fool while the defender stands there watching and calmly relieves you of the ball when you fall over. Again, that's my failings, not the game's shortcoming.
Other changes are less noticeable but contribute equally to the absorbing experience - the player animations have been polished up, collisions and scrambles feel intensely, vividly real and keepers finally put the "intelligent" in AI. Tactics are felt more keenly in the game, with teams playing in noticeably different ways depending on the situation at hand - something I've never seen so well-reproduced before - and managing this greater array of management options is easier and more effective than ever, with the face of the pre-game menus completely reworked. A distinctly Football Manager-esque top-down views of the pitch and formation is paired with a "mouse" cursor, the traditional reams of menus largely binned and replaced by an intuitive drag-and-drop system that lets you shape the team the way you want. The existing Master League and Be A Legend modes are as good, if not better than ever, with some nice new additions boosting already-enormously successful features.
It would be a falsehood to say that PES 2011 is a game without weaknesses - it isn't, and its shortcomings are so oft-repeated it's sometimes hard to put them into perspective. Okay, it's not a fully-licensed game (though it is predominantly-licensed) - but this isn't FIFA, and rarely tries to be. PES has always been at its best when concentrating on its own strengths, and with gameplay as good as it's ever been here (not to mention more challenging than ever before), this is a must-have simulation. I'm sure FIFA's great, but this is everything I need. If it really matters that much to have an official, playable Port Vale in the game, buy both - for this is a stirring return to form.
Pro Evolution Soccer has for a number of years now been the main challenger to Fifa for the football game market on the consoles and in many peoples opinions has become an extremely good game on its own merit but what does PES 2011 deliver?
The Pro Evolution Soccer games have long been about excellent controls to make it more realistic than Fifa as you need to work hard and often slowly with your build up play to create chances which you are by no means guaranteed to take but following on from feedback to Konami that the game felt too slow the all new version for this year delivers a much improved control system which allows for excellent build up play and realistic working of the ball whilst also offering a smoother and faster gameplay. To enable this to work in the best way possible PES 2011 has a new camera angle in use which gives you a much better feel of where your players are and enable you to build up in the best way possible.
So why go for PES 2011?
The game itself offers up excellent gameplay with stunning graphics and sound quality but above all of this it now feels like it offers up more substance. You once again have the Champions League licensing in this offering but if you are used to Fifa then this game will feel somewhat light in terms of its licenses...this is something you get used to and for me it does not detract from this game.
I love this game and it is due to the fact you need to work so hard to create chances and this tactical approach makes you feel much more in control of all areas of your team. For me this one area of things alone makes this a much improved offering than last years and one which is going to be much more of a consideration for fans of football games than previous years.
FIFA Vs PES
With the release of FIFA 11 and Pro Evolution Soccer 2011 recently, the battle has again intensified in answering the age old question 'Who is the king of football gaming'?
Coming from a PES background over the past several years, one could be mistaken for suggesting I have a bias of Konami's football sim over EA's old favourite but this wasn't always the case. Back in the day of the Sega Megadrive I was completely hooked on the FIFA International Soccer series that descended on our consoles. Up to that point, Sensible soccer had been the fan's favourite and there hadn't really been anything to challenge the fun and simplistic arcade style gaming it had to offer. FIFA however was set to change that. With its isometric view of the pitch (compared to bird's eye view or side scrolling views of other football games) and detailed graphics it quickly became the 'must have' sports game selling millions of copies world wide.
After the huge success of its first release, subsequent years from 1995 onwards would present us with a new title with added improvements over its predecessor such as FIFPro licences for real player names and much improved match features and graphics. FIFA Road to World Cup 98 was probably the most groundbreaking at the time when released for the Playstation. Nothing at the time was comparable so everyone went with it and became addicted to the FIFA brand eagerly anticipating the next release to reach optimum realism and a bigger step forward in the football gaming market.
During this time Konami Computer Entertainment Tokyo who were a division of the Konami brand had been busy in Japan developing 'Winning Eleven' (what we know in Europe as ISS Pro Evolution). It was a popular title for the SNES & N64 gamers at the time but it wasn't until its release on the Playstation platform in 98 that people began to really take note. Its football realism in comparison to FIFA was arguably a lot better although it lacked somewhat on the license front. Konami changed the name of the series to ISS Pro Evolution in 99 with the tagline 'The King of football returns'. The one-two pass system, dribbling and trick shooting had been highly developed and massively improved the dynamics of football gaming which was something FIFA had been lacking at the time making only slight improvements to their game play.
Fans at this point began to split. Those who felt a loyalty to the game which changed football gaming for the better offering a more polished series stayed with FIFA but those who wanted something different and a more realistic experience started to drift over to PES. And so the war began.
Fans of either series have argued over which game is number 1 for the past decade, especially with recent PS3 and Xbox 360 releases. The truth of the matter is that although Pro Evolution Soccer took over FIFA as the true king a few years ago, FIFA has battled back to re-take its crown in recent years (though I admit I've kept my loyalty to PES). It's not that PES 2009 or 2010 were poor, they simply took a step back whereas previous releases had forced FIFA to re-think their design and game play. The new October releases of each offering are already splitting football fans again. I'm not going to say PES is better than FIFA as they both offer something unique, but as a true PES fan since ISS Pro and wanting a more lifelike gaming experience I'll be sticking with my gut this year and continuing my journey with Konami.
My focus for this review is on the PS3 version but I believe the game play is pretty much the same cross-platform.
Although PES 2010 was a decent game it had some annoyances which have been addressed in the new version. Making a tackle and then getting on with the game was something that used to be a difficult task as when you made a sliding tackle your player would always be slow to get back on their feet and respond by retrieving the ball. The new version has made sliding tackles a whole lot better so that when you win the ball you can get back on your feet quickly and play a pass. This has resulted in faster match play. A conservative tackle is more likely to result in a petty foul though which should really be the other way round in comparison to slide tackles.
Another annoying problem was when your player ran into another player or tussled with them. They would sometimes spin in a circle and almost fall over which meant by the time you tried to get on with the game you had lost the ball and found yourself chasing the opposing in a losing battle. There is no evidence of this in the new version and tussles now seem to be more realistic and practically add a new feature to the game. You can even force players off the ball using strength without getting penalised by the referee. With the new Defender AI your defenders will now choose to hold their positions and close down the attacker rather than run after the ball when it comes into their area. This forces the opposition into a mistake rather than your defender making the mistake of coming for a ball he isn't going to get.
Until PES 2011 you were somewhat restricted in terms of passing. The ball was kind of magnetic in that when you played a pass in roughly the right direction of your player it would go to their feet. There was little variation in the speed of the pass and if you wanted to play a pass in between 2 of your players then this was almost impossible. The new version with its 360 degree passing allows for far more accuracy. Passes have to be weighted according to the distance of the player so if you have a player only a few feet away then a quick tap of the pass button for a soft pass is needed whereas a player who is several yards away and making a run requires holding the pass button down a bit longer to put some power and speed into the pass. The same goes for long passing and through-balls in particular where you can now get just the right ball to your player which doesn't have to be played to their feet or just in front of them, it can be played several yards in front of them or to either side with more accuracy. This is something that takes getting used to as you will probably be giving away possession more often than not the first time you play where you have not put enough power or direction into a pass.
If like me you previously used the directional pad as opposed to the analogue stick when moving around then I would highly recommend that you start using the analogue now on the new version. It made no difference in previous versions but with the 360 degree passing and more accuracy on shooting etc then you will definitely benefit by using it.
Shooting in the new version has got better and more realistic. No longer can you run several yards with the ball and pretty much hit a shot on target from far out whilst still running. If you did this now it would most certainly end up in the stands. If you think about how players strike the ball in real life when they are running then you will realise why Konami have changed the dynamics of this. Players will always pause their run for a split second before striking the ball as you can't run and hit a ball at the same time. If you now want an accurate shot whilst running then you would need to take your finger off the run button just before shooting. Another thing to get used to but you will appreciate the changes the more you play the game.
Throw-ins are now controlled using one button for distance rather than the long pass button for longer throws. I'm not convinced however about the fact that when you take a throw the opposition are always right by your side so you have to move around or try and play a quick throw to prevent losing possession instantly. When the computer takes a throw your players are positioned further away so they have time to play the ball. Something I don't believe is fair. Perhaps this will be fixed?
One thing that always frustrated me on previous versions was when the ball dropped for your player just outside the penalty area from a ball that had been half cleared. Your player would try to control the ball most of the time rather than volley it, which is want you intended to do. This would mean that the chance to shoot had gone and your effort would always sail wide of the goal or over the bar. You could occasionally hit a volley with a quick double-tap of the shoot button but this was very hard to master and would hardly ever come off. With the new version, if your player is running onto a ball that is falling just in front of them on the edge of the box then you can hit a stunning volley with a double-tap of the shoot button. If you have the right player and put the right direction in the shot then it can easily hit the back of the net. After hundreds of efforts on PES 2010 to score in this fashion, I managed to do this after only a few games in PES 2011.
Touches and control seem to be refined for the better which is noticeable from the moment you start playing. Lay-offs that your players complete on the pitch for example are fantastic. Players now look like they are wrapping their foot around the ball to make the perfect pass so you don't end up playing a pass straight to your player's feet if you were to chest it down as you would knock it in space in front of them to run onto. The same goes for headers and back-heels which appear more easily controlled. I found that PES 2010 was quite poor when performing a back-heel as your player would turn and pass too often instead of just performing the trick even if the player was a skilful one. This refinement on the skill makes attack building much more pleasing to the eye.
Other things to mention are that heading and crossing seems to be a lot harder. About 90% of the time you could quite easily whip in a cross directly onto the head of your striker and have them score a simple header which would rarely be saved by the goal keeper. On the new version you have to be far more accurate with the pace and direction of the cross. I've managed one or two goals in this way but the majority of them are from an out-stretched foot or a header from a rebound after the goal keeper has made a brilliant save in the first instance.
So all in all there are some major changes to the game engine that make the play more realistic. Through-balls are no longer frustratingly hit too far in front of your player as you have complete control over the speed of the ball. Heading and shooting are a lot harder (but you will quickly realise that Konami are heading in the right direction). No match appears to be the same on this version as goals are scored in so many different ways using so many different techniques that it becomes less repetitive.
The all new shooting & stamina gauge shows colour variation rather than a simple bar so it is now more clearer on how hard to hit shots or make passes. Also, you can no longer run the length of the pitch for long periods of play as your player's stamina will deteriorate resulting in a loss of pace and accuracy on shooting and passing.
PES 2011 has added a lot more licences this year adding to the impressive Champions League official licensing to include The Copa Liberatadores (South American Champions League), the UEFA Super Cup and the Europa League. Bayern Munich and the German national team have also been fully licensed.
It will never have the licensing power of EA's FIFA due to the fact that EA own sole rights to FIFPro licensing. This empowers them to use all naming, likeness and branding for their games making it the polished product we are familiar with (something that Konami cannot compete with). I believe the licensing contract will be up for renewal soon in 2011 or 2012 but even with Konami having the option to bid for it, there is no way they can out-bid EA with the financial muscle they currently have. In fact, if EA did risk losing out, FIFA would be nothing without its licensing so there is little chance they would let that happen.
You should not be put off by the lack of licences in the Premier League and national teams as this is easily fixed by downloading an unofficial Option File. Fan groups of PES will annually introduce an Option File (with periodic updates) available for others to download and install which will replace and correct all the stupid team, player names and badges. This was one of the few things PES lacked in comparison to FIFA so being safe in the knowledge that this is fixable, it shouldn't be a deal breaker.
Animation & Graphics
PES have added 1000's of new animations throughout the game which has vastly improved the aesthetics of players and surroundings. Facial features are even more prominent (although still lacking when compared to this year's FIFA release) and player movements have improved through the use of motion captured footage. The most noticeable change for me is with goalkeepers. They look more organic when diving and jumping to make saves and collect balls. Where the game engine has been revamped, perfect shots now actually hit the top corner of the net past the outstretched hand of the goalkeeper. Previously they looked like they found their way to the top corner of the goal but replays from different angles showed that the shot was rather central and the keeper looked like he made a half hearted attempt to reach the ball. The way the goal keepers now throw and kick the ball (and roll after diving) look so much more spectacular. In addition, performing skills look more crisp and less stiff and shooting and jostling simply just look the part.
Changes to slow motion replays is not something I think has improved as I simply don't get the new blurred motion replays as it makes it difficult to see the action. The lower camera angle looks ok but I much preferred the controls and view that PES 2010 offered. It would have been nice to see a replay of your goal from the default camera angle but with a lot more zoom and height on it so that you can span out a bit more to get a better perspective of the goal.
There are lots of other animation aspects that I think have improved in the game such as pre-match player stretches and the way in which players fall over when tackled. Players now show more emotion and despair at missing chances which include putting their hands on their heads and simply looking like they yell at themselves in anger. If you just so happen to be running with a player for a long time and then hit a poor shot then it shows a close up of that player bending over like they are panting for breath. This part of the animation however looks pretty poor as every player that does this looks the same and they always look like they are being sick which it isn't meant to resemble.
The overall graphics in general have been a huge improvement in terms of player likeness and the way in which the players move on the pitch. In addition to what I've already mentioned, the crowd and goal nets seem to have been tweaked a little to offer more variation.
One other thing, don't be fooled by the new pitch level angle either, as this quickly rises and tilts as soon as you kick-off. You will know what I mean if you've played the game or the demo as if the camera stayed at that angle it would be very difficult to play.
Game Plan & Configuration
A warmly appreciated change to the tactical and strategy screen has seen the introduction of a 'Drag and Drop' mechanism which can be used in all aspects of team management. Editing player positions in previous versions wasn't a quick task but now with the new mechanism you can simply drag any chosen player around the pitch and assign more attributes to them to allow players to stamp their playing style on the match. Players carrying bookings are now clearly marked next to their name on their pitch circle. Subs are even easier to make just by dragging a player off the pitch and onto your subs which appear to the side of the pitch view.
PES has always been the best in terms of performing skills, feints and turns but with fixed button mappings they were sometimes hard to pull off successfully. The new version now offers users the ability to map their favourite moves to the right button making them more accessible and easier to master. As a default the step over is performed using the right analogue stick which is a more natural position but this and other moves are completely customisable along with the usual standard button configurations. Hopefully this will prevent previous 360 degree player turns when you didn't want to perform them.
PES in my opinion has always had a half decent sound track although FIFA was a lot better as they had more licensed tracks. This year however, I think they've managed to get it spot-on (despite some reviews suggesting otherwise). There are lots of catchy unknown tracks such as 'Apples - Theo', 'Destine - In Your Arms' & 'Fever Ray - When I Grow Up' mixed with more known tracks such as 'Keane feat K.Naan - Stop For A Minute' & 'Temper Trap - Sweet Disposition'. The soundtrack has a mix of both Indie & dance with some samba style tunes thrown in. Some of them are not the best but you usually only hear the better tracks unless you leave the game sitting on the menu screen for long periods.
In relation to the commentary some will be glad to see the back of Mark Lawrenson who has been replaced with Jim Beglen who you may know from commentary on ITV. Jim, in a tactical sense seems to know a lot about football and I always agree with the statements he makes on TV. Konami have tried to implement this in the game with his comments on the pitch. His commentary on the game is probably average but it does make a change to having to listen to Lawrenson all the time. Some of Jim's comments do however sound a bit corny and fake which would indicate that he is not a very good actor.
With some added extras on the commentary it is better than previous versions but it does have some flaws with conflicting commentary to the game action. I'd have thought that Konami would have ironed these out but they are still present. A typical example would be when I played a Champions League knock-out tie where I was already 1-0 up in the first leg and 2-0 up in the second. On scoring the 3rd goal in the match the commentary reply was that my team had taken the lead. Taken the lead? I'd just taken the lead for the 4th time in the tie!
There are also a few other instances whereby a long shot from far out goes miles high and wide and Jim's comments are something along the lines of "What a chance, he really should have scored that". Hardly!
An improved feature on last year's release has to be the crowd chants for your home matches. Playing as Man Utd you can clearly hear "United, United", "Please don't take my Solskjaer away" and "We shall not be moved". At first these appear to be novelty but the more you hear them, the more repetitive they become. It's lucky that you only hear these specific chants on home matches as it would quickly become annoying having to listen to it for every game. They do seem to be cleverly worked though as the "We shall not be moved" chant is usually timed with your team taking the lead or scoring in the 2nd half of a match.
I'm not quite sure if there are other specific chants for specific teams as I don't tend to want to play as the likes of Arsenal, Chelsea or Liverpool for obvious reasons but I'm led to believe they also have their own set of chants. Chants can also be added to the game via the editor so there is no end to what you can do with the sound.
The other sounds you can hear a lot of are shouts coming from the bench. If you've ever played the training mode then you can hear them clearly as there is no other background noise but in matches these can now be heard from time to time which makes it more realistic.
Become A Legend
This mode has seen some significant changes for the better in PES 2011. As you start your career having created yourself you are given several offers from low reputation teams and you choose who you wish to join to get going. Once you've got a club you are instantly drafted into the reserves of the team in the starting line-up. You can allocate yourself attribute points based on the position you wish to play. So you can pump up the defence bar if you intend starting out as a defender for example or increase your pace if you intend on being a winger.
Before you start each game during the pre season you get an animated video of your manager telling the team what he expects them to do on the pitch tactic wise. As an example he may state that the opposition are weak down the left so he wants the team to focus passing and attacking down the right (their left). He may also state that he wishes the team to play the possession game and try to keep the ball. These statements are your basic aims on the pitch as when the game is over you are assessed individually by your manager against his tactics. So if you haven't been focusing passing and attacking down the right and gave away the ball too often then he will certainly tell you about it! If you had some other good moments in the game like playing a through ball for an assist on goal then he will congratulate you on these.
Become a legend mode also gives you the chance to focus your training on a wide range of positions as starting out as a striker for instance and being poor at it will result in your manager stating that there is no place in his team for someone in this position. You then have the chance to alter your training to become better in other positions and after doing this I had a starting place in central defence and did a good job at it, getting some well deserved praise from the manager in the process.
One thing that annoyed me in PES 2010 was the way you were subbed all the time during matches pretty early on, even if you had come on at half time and no matter how well you played. From experience so far there seems to be an improvement in this aspect. If you are playing well then you don't tend to get subbed until late in the game, but if you have an awful match then maybe around the 70th minute mark you may be dragged off which isn't so bad. I have yet to comment on first team action as I've yet to break through in the short time I've played this mode but the signs look good. It would have been nice to see Konami put a faster 'fast forward' feature on the match once you've been subbed as nobody wants to watch the computer playing itself for several minutes. The current fast forward options still aren't fast enough in my book.
Online Play & Master League Online
Online gaming for PES seems to be a complete letdown once again this year which is a real shame. I'd very much like to show my gaming skills against other players all over the world but with problems connecting into the Konami servers and then problems with lag, it makes this impossible. I've only played 2 games online with PES 2011 and on both occasions using wireless, the performance has been dire at best. There has been so much lag that it appears that I'm playing the game in slow motion and every button press has a second delay before it performs the action. This is not down to my Internet connection as I'm very close to our exchange and usually get around a 7mb line, not to mention all other games I play online work flawlessly on wireless. As I've repositioned my PS3 recently it is no longer possible for me to connect it with a wired connection via the LAN port. I'm sure this would work a lot better but I'm not in a position to test this and have frankly lost faith in the online play already.
PES has always had problems with online connectivity since they released the game on the PS3 platform. If you have a more complicated network setup than just a single ADSL or cable router then you always had to fiddle around with port forwarding to allow the ports used for the Konami servers to be forwarded from your router to your PS3 and even that didn't always work!
The only way I got PES 2010 to work was to simplify my network and then use a direct connection into my router's Internet port. It still baffles me that they choose to operate their own server rooms and fail to fix lagging issues. I should also mention that I could only manage to perform a 'quick match' on the online community as this was all it would permit me to do under my current setup. If I was a teacher marking their work they would simply get a 'could do better' note from me.
The offline Master League has seen very little changes in terms of it's structure and game play but new to this year's release is the Master League Online or MLO. Having not delved into this part of the game just yet I can only explain how this is meant to work in theory. From what I understand, you will be competing in online leagues which are structured in terms of a player's ability which is calculated on past results so that beginners will end up playing other beginners and all the Pros will be playing each other in the same league. You pay a fee (not real money) to enter a league and you gain money by winning games. The aim is to compete with other online players in the transfer market to improve your team. This seems to follow a stock market scenario where popular players will progressively become more expensive to buy and less popular players will become cheaper to buy. This will probably mean that buying the likes of a Ronaldo or a Messi would be near impossible, but Konami have raised the point that the league is aimed towards players finding young and promising talent and then making money from selling these on when they become more popular. Although you can win a league there are different aims which may appeal to other players such as having the most assets or valuable team.
It is unclear how this is going to work as there are lots of unanswered questions that will only come to light when you start plying it. Are there 100's of leagues and are there 100's of Ronaldo's and Messi's or are there lots of the same players in each league? One thing I do know is that Konami have hidden some unknown talent in the game which can only be discovred by extensive research, although what happenes when these players become common knowledge? The jury is still out on this one I'm afraid but it promises to be very exciting and challenging.
A new feature to this year's release is the stadium edit function. Accessed via the edit menu, you now have complete control over stadium creation. Existing stadiums can only be edited in terms of its name but by creating a new stadium you can edit further by selecting the type of pitch (such as the turf pattern), the pitch layout in terms of edging near corner flags etc, the pitch image for altering the texture of the outside of the pitch (such as adding an athletics track), choosing how your dugout will look and creating the design of your stands and roof. Both the colour of seats in the stands and the dugout can be customised using the colour pallet.
The camera angles for editing appear to be very good as you can span around the whole stadium using the analogue stick and zoom into specific areas for refinement. The stadium parts such as the stands however are quite limited and there doesn't seem to be any inclusion of executive boxes or different types of nets on the back of goals or advertising boards etc. This may be rescued by the fact that there is an import option on the editor that may enable the download of extra content in future. Using the team editor function you can then link your stadium to a team for it to appear in the game. Alternatively you can use the stadium select option when playing a simple Exhibition match.
With PES having taken 2 steps back in the past 2 releases, I now feel that they've taken 3 steps forward with PES 2011 and regained their 'King of football' status. Whilst the game is not as polished as FIFA and has less licensing, this is something that can be edited and customised till your heart's content. It is unlikely to beat die hard FIFA fans into submission but it will go a long way to convincing them that there is an alternative and there is something out there that offers more realism in game play. PES 2011 has far more features than FIFA and the continuation of the official licensed Champions League structure is a sign of things to come.
The online play still needs a little work so if you're relying on this being flawless for your purchase then I wouldn't bother. The game play in general has improved considerably but it does make the game a lot harder to play. Practice will make perfect.
In terms of price both FIFA 11 and PES 2011 are around the £35 mark so there is little to choose from the two. Coming from someone who would not look at any other football game if it wasn't FIFA, I can truly say that I've been there and found the grass to be greener on the other side. If you can't decide which to buy then I can only recommend you buy both as each has its advantages and disadvantages.