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[Archived] PES 2012

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Maybe this will be the year it matches FIFA? Oh how I miss the old Pro Evo days on the SNES/PS/PS2. It felt at the time that you had complete control if a game if football, FIFA at the time felt like it was on rails.

I moved to FIFA for the 08 version, as online play is important and Konami were always miles behind online wise. FIFA gradually got better, as PES seemed to go backwards.

Every year I fill myself with false hope, every year I'm disappointed. It may have a few fans left, but it doesn't do the basics right at all for me. I think FIFA is going to start to regress, so I hope Konami finally go back to the drawing board and study what made them overcome EA all those years and learn what went wrong.

Oh and I hear there is an online stream of an Konami event tonight, it's 1am our time, will show PES2012 amongst other games.


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I bought PES 2010 for the PS3 but never ever got a smooth game online (and I tried well over 200).

My 30% win rate was a miracle considering the connections I was getting.

However I believe that the problem is that Virgin Media broadband recognises PES as P2P file sharing as it doesnt use a central server during games, and thus seriously restricts the upload speed.

All other online games (mainly COD) are perfect.

For this reason I cannot get PES2012 as it just ruins the game completely. I am however going to rent Fifa and see if this suffers from the same problem. Shame cos I've always preferred PES for 10 years and playing locally I'm damn good at it.

I bought PES 2010 for the PS3 but never ever got a smooth game online (and I tried well over 200).

My 30% win rate was a miracle considering the connections I was getting.

However I believe that the problem is that Virgin Media broadband recognises PES as P2P file sharing as it doesnt use a central server during games and thus seriously restrict the upload speed.

All other online games (mainly COD) are perfect.

For this reason I cannot get PES2012 as it just ruins the game completely. I am however going to rent Fifa and see if this suffers from the same problem. Shame cos I've always preferred PES for 10 years and playing locally I'm damn good at it.

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Maybe this will be the year it matches FIFA? Oh how I miss the old Pro Evo days on the SNES/PS/PS2. It felt at the time that you had complete control if a game if football, FIFA at the time felt like it was on rails.

I moved to FIFA for the 08 version, as online play is important and Konami were always miles behind online wise. FIFA gradually got better, as PES seemed to go backwards.

Every year I fill myself with false hope, every year I'm disappointed. It may have a few fans left, but it doesn't do the basics right at all for me. I think FIFA is going to start to regress, so I hope Konami finally go back to the drawing board and study what made them overcome EA all those years and learn what went wrong.

Oh and I hear there is an online stream of an Konami event tonight, it's 1am our time, will show PES2012 amongst other games.


PES2011 absolutely creams FIFA11 offline - first time since Pro Evo on the PS2 that's happened IMO. However, online is crap as usual.

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I had the pleasure of covering E3 this year and managed to play PES 2012 and FIFA 12. I thought that PES11 was s far superior game to FIFA 11 offline. Pleased to report that PES12 is shaping up as the best ever game. The game has built upon the foundations that PES11 laid, the offline experience is far superior to FIFA12, the AI is superb and Konami hva e sorted out all the niggles from PES11. Konami are so confident about their game that they will be releasing a BETA demo soon.

FIFA 12 is also a bette game but unfortunately the poor AI has not been sorted out, so offline it will again be a very poor experience. The new impact engine is very good, it needs to be toned down a little but it does add a new dimension. I would say at this stage that online FIFA 12 is superior to PES12. But if you are like to play offline then PES12 is far superior.

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Trouble i have with FIFA online (and offline) is there seems very little varity in goals.

And it's been the same for a while.

Always the same curled finesse shot, pass back, cross, or drilled shot across goal.

And with FIFA 11, Assited lobbed through balls are ridiculous.The amount of people i play against that just hammer the ball down the pitch and some how it goes pin point to a striker in acres of space.

I cant really commet on PES11 Online as i havnt played it to much.

All i can comment on is people some how having a division 5 team yet having the best players on the game.Surley there should be a system like FIFA where the beter players you have the better rated your team is.

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  • 1 month later...

I was lucky enough to play PES 2012 two weeks ago, below are some indepth impressions done by someone (thanks Romangnoli) which perfectly sum up my feelings about PES2012:

Part 1

It was probably around 3 hours into my 6 hour train journey to Manchester, having spent one of those hours parked in a drab and featureless station called Cheddington, that I started to wonder whether this year's PES was going to be worth the effort. As an old-ish lady got off the train parked across the platform, presenting her dog just in front of my window, I thought the trips to and from Guildford to play FIFA have generally been quite straightforward, even when ######. At which point the dog did exactly that ######, right on the train platform. I looked across from my seat and saw that everyone else was watching this too, fully engrossed, thankful that at least something is happening.

The train kicked back into life soon after, sparing us from finding out if the dog-owner would try and up the ante. Two hours late I finally arrived, said my hellos and made my apologies to Adam, Callum of Grade-A.co.uk, and FIFA forum guru Xaor/Rodelero (he of the 12 Enemies of FIFA series of articles and subsequent proposals of marriage from readers). We set off to the plush Bhatti residence and made straight for the games room. With as little mucking about as possible, we booted up Adam's PS3 test kit and got stuck right in.

User Profiles and Team Selection

The first thing you'll notice when you try and start an exhibition match is the player select screen. You're now able to create up to 10 user profiles, to which you can attach control schemes, assistance settings (for passing, player switching, auto-tackling etc), even avatars. From the off it's a cool little touch for those who play multiplayer offline on a regular basis. No official word yet on whether any player W-L-D stats are then attached to those profiles or indeed if your avatar will just be a picture or tie in somehow to BaL/Challenge mode, but if not then that's surely the next step?

About ten minutes later, which was how long it took for our brains to re-adjust to Japanese menu buttons(!), we picked our teams using the new team evaluation stats, which replace the classic hexagon. It uses numerical values along with retro letter grading - A is 90+, B is 80-90, C is 70-80 etc. Displaying grades and numbers at once was pretty cluttered in truth - I'd sooner have the hexagon, or just the numbers. The problem was that it was too small in 2011, with a dodgy glow that completely killed any chance of spotting small-to-medium differences between teams. The answer to that is surely to make it bigger and clearer, not to remove it completely and replace it with this!

The Pre-Match Team Talk

On getting to the game plan screen, we noticed a few key changes. Firstly, the options underneath the formation of each team had changed. Most of the options from last year had been shunted off-screen, and you'd have to deliberately scroll across to reach them.

In their place? Well, instead of editing one game plan and one game plan alone, you can now edit up to four different setups, each with its own slider options and initial formation layout. It later transpires that, during the game, you can use the d-pad (or left stick if that floats your boat) to switch to different strategies on the fly. This would be accompanied by a basic but cool little inset of a manager shouting and waving his arms to communicate instructions - a little touch, but far more emotive and satisfying than the old face button display.

Secondly, when you click on one of the four game plans, you are presented with a new tactical slider popup. In addition to being able to just use whatever combination you want, the new menu gives you several preset tactical options that guide how to get the results you want. By selecting the Quick Counter option, for example, your slider values for player support would be anything between 16 and 20. With the Possession Game your player support and support range would be lower (8-12 I think? Should've jotted it down!) but your defensive line and position switching would be quite high; by contrast the Long Ball game would be faster paced and more expansive but your defence would sit very deep.

Unless Im mistaken the teams in the game were already set up to be using some of these settings, which will be good news for those of you who were slightly annoyed by how conservative some of the team slider settings were in 2011. Thats not to say they wont benefit from some further work by great minds such as those at http://www.justpes.com/ but at least the starting point seems improved.

Its another simple, yet positive addition. By making the tactical options more accessible and giving people guidance on how to get certain tactical results, Konami is encouraging people to get involved with this aspect of the game and get more hands-on with instructing the AI - the result being that they become more aware of what the AI can do and how it behaves. It's subtle but it's PES teaching people about football on a level that Youtube, even highlights shows like Match of the Day, just can't convey. 2011 was very much a sandbox game for budding tacticians, and 2012 has certainly tipped its cap to them.

Best of all its good to see PES make moves to bring newcomers up to a higher standard of tactical tweaking, rather than dumb down from the top and lose a hell of a lot of depth in the process.

Owing to time constraints we chose to go the Arsene Wenger route and did away with such nonsense as a plan B, focussing on plan A and preparing our complaints about not playing in the spirit of the game if we weren't allowed to win.

On to picking the starting XI. Player attributes are laid out slightly differently. In PES 2011 they were essentially in one continuous list that you could page through using the shoulder buttons. This year, Konami have looked to split them up into a few areas, grouping speed stats and technical stats into separate tabs and then slapping a letter grade alongside that. A little touch, and time will tell how much it benefits you. I like the premise but technical stats holds everything like passing, shooting, dribbling and technique Id like to see a couple more splits because at the moment some of the gradings dont really make sense.

Into the match we went, the camera hovering over the stadium and the players emerging from the tunnel looking much the same as last year, save for a few glitches with the shading. If we were the types to care about such things then we'd probably have started to worry, with anxious flashbacks to train platforms and dog wee.

But we weren't here to watch the game; we were here to play.

Part 2

Responsiveness & AI

Straight from kick-off the difference was huge.


From the first subtle movement of the left stick it was abundantly clear that the game is so much more lithe and alive, both in attack and defence. The game never feels static, as it can do at times in PES 2011. The attackers are constantly probing in their own individual ways and based on your tactics, looking to make options or sneak into space unnoticed. Defenders seem to be making decisions about positioning versus tracking runs all the time. Its odd but you can kind of get a sense of them communicating as they shift around, because their decision making seems so rational rather than mechanical. That sound over the top, but I think its inevitable when you suddenly get your hands on AI that seems a genuine step up rather than a slightly better version of the exact same thing.

Besides which the impact of the zonal defending cant be understated NPC teammates automatically contain dribblers, defences clam up when facing dribblers like Messi, defensive midfielders drop into holes as the defence gets pulled wide… A lot of this is true to various degrees in previous football games, but its the extent to which everything intertwines and affects everything else that makes it so impressive. Stepping in to help the defence - often using the right stick to pick whoever I want at will rather than sometimes struggle with one of two or three inappropriate choices - you could see your teammates shifting according to your behaviour, plugging gaps if you moved out of position. Again, it really felt so much more aware and primed for action than last year.

I can officially confirm that any previewer or reviewer that dedicates more time to the teammate run trigger systems than the movement already provided to you, is one that hasnt got a clue. If they happen to just spend the whole preview just talking about that feature, then theyre bloody ignorant.

Speaking of which, dont worry about the run triggers damaging individuality. Theyre too hard to use routinely, and the impact it has is subtle at most. My understanding is that the trick with manual run triggering is not to move the 2nd player for extended periods of time, but to move them in the direction you want them to run and then click again, at which point they sprint thattaway.

But its so hard to use meaningfully. 99.9% of all movement on the pitch is going to be AI controlled, is still going to be player-oriented and is going to be more than good enough for even the most extravagant pass and move players among us.

For passing I pretty much just used the medium assistance setting (2 out of 4 with being fully 'manual') and the general feeling in terms of accuracy was pretty much in line with PES 2011. It's more satisfying to pick out 20-30 yard passes now though, because the movement of the ball (as I'm sure you've read dozens of times now) is much more organic and believable. The ball bobbles on the turf, it curls, it changes direction when a spinning ball grips the pitch, it doesn't rocket along the turf and then grip as if it's hit a puddle of treacle. It could do with some more inaccuracy in certain cases but that isn't to say that we didn't hit quite a lot of misplaced balls wide or ahead or behind of targets.

It's important to realise that these changes are not just cosmetic. It contributes almost as much as the AI to completely eradicating the classic cheap goals of 2011. Bold words I know after a day's play. But the biggest problem with the triple tap O was that the ball travelled like a bullet just above the ground, and defenders would take an eternity to react. This just isn't the case anymore. As I said, the ball travels at a lower top speed but with less pitch resistance, which gives the already much more alert defenders (and you with your right stick player switching) a lot more time to react and close off the corridor of uncertainty.

People may worry about the 1-2 spamming and the kick-off lobbed through ball as well, of course. Well the passing accuracy, as I said, is still much the same, but again the speed of the ball itself has changed. It still has zip, but there isnt so much disparity between its speed and the reaction times of the defenders. As Rodelero beamed at the time, interceptions were a huge part of our games, which you certainly couldn't say about your typical PES 2011 match. As for the lobbed through ball - we forgot to try it, but again, the failing was an AI issue. I'd be gobsmacked if the zonal AI hasn't eradicated this exploit by default.

In case I haven't made it clear so far, its a lot of fun playing this game, whether in attack or defence, trying to build passing moves when you have so many players keen to give you options, trying to shut up shop and deny the oppositions better players any space or time to do what they do best. There wasn't a single part of the game that felt like a chore to me - I was always occupied and thinking in defence, and I was always keen to try new things and spread the play in unexpected ways.

La Gambeta

The on-the-ball movement is much more responsive and deliberate, allowing you to carry the ball confidently and work the space you have to good effect. It really brings out the best in technical midfielders by allowing them to really express themselves, touch for touch, and create passing angles that less deft players can't quite conjure. You can also stop dead with the ball, hold R2 (which either performs upper body feints or automated stepovers depending on the ability of the player involved) and then push off again once you've committed the defender.

Each player still feels like they handle differently when carrying the ball. With world class slalom runners its an absolute joy to deftly glide around challenges or use crafty R2 dribbling simply to frighten the defender into standing off; but against pressure spammers you should find that dodging challenges to create space, or taking a touch away from them and buying a foul, is meat and drink to less OTT players like Modric or Wilshere.

Further down the pecking order, the very early impression is that it all seems to scale pretty well. We played Wolves v West Brom and Matt Jarvis was clearly the go-to guy for carrying the ball forward - good old fashioned direct running from deep, covering some 30 yards up the pitch, going at the fullback before either laying the ball back or looking to cross the ball in. By contrast Karl Henry felt slovenly and uncultured, and an attempt to see how well Steven Fletcher could run at a defence ended in tears. A Jarvis and a good little CM/AM who can pull off good one touch 10-15 yard passes are going to be first on my MLO and ML list, make no mistake.

My opinion is that the game as a whole is a lot more nimble and welcoming, while still staying true to a lot of what gave 2011 its depth. Thats not to say that some of the top end players arent occasionally capable of a bit too much in the way of sudden directional changes or tidy turns, and some may miss the grandad turns that oafish centre backs would do in 2011. I can imagine some peoples initial reaction being one of fear or concern that suddenly the game is this responsive, maybe even saying they prefer the relative restrictiveness of last year. Not me, from my time with it - its a very positive step forward for the gameplay as a whole, not least because of the environment in which it is now balanced and how everything else feeds off it. Even if depth were lost in the dribbling by improving response times (and as Ive said I dont think any is), the increase in depth in other areas is far greater by comparison. If I do feel things need reining in, I really don't mind if it has to wait until next year, so it can be judged more precisely, rather than risk breaking what we have now.

Part 3!

Under Pressure

The depth resulting from the knock-on effects of this agility is the key. Its just one of several steps taken by Konami to embrace the pressing game by ensuring you have to think about your actions.

The greatly improved (especially since last year I only saw it once or twice) advantage rule is particularly helpful in this regard, as is the strictness of the mostly wonderful refereeing. Its a shame that the ref was still a bit dodgy with slide tackle decisions, and that he seemed too eager to let missed standing tackles go inside the box. Its a nice idea to be a bit more hesitant about penalty decisions but there needs to be a balance. On the plus side at least my team seemed to agree with me, raising both arms to appeal!

And as I said, the man in black is usually spot on and punishes the right things, as he apparently did in the PES 2011 demo (I honestly can't remember now). No more relentless hacking through the back of players online as refs are very quick to give marching orders for such behaviour. Isn't that right, Rod??

Its not just cards though - a couple of times I knocked a player over and conceded a free kick on the edge of the box just by moving into him with the left stick. It looked properly cool, but more importantly it added to the sense that, yes I still have pressure and try to hound and harass players; but its something that I have to use so much more carefully and intelligently than just mashing the pressure buttons.

It leads to one of the things this year's PES seems to have really gone all out to capture - the battle for the ball in tight spaces between two players. Last year, too often the game would force the attacker and defender into running in a straight line, the attacker stumbling and the defender slowly gaining ground before winning the ball. Or of course your player might just run the ball out of touch despite the battle having started some 10 yards back. These sorts of incidents could become repetitive and baffling your player clearly looked as though he should at least be able to touch the ball diagonally to his side, but his only options would tend to be to pass, turn back on himself or lose the ball. Meanwhile of course the stumbling animation of 2011 has claimed several scalps in its time, such as clear shooting opportunities or certain goals, leading to yelps of frustration and controllers flying across rooms.

The answer, Konami have declared, is to make it possible to dribble while stumbling. This has huge connotations - it means that players like Messi can run at defences and be knocked slightly off balance as he deflects off the challenges of defenders, but still be able to dodge the next challenge as his trailing leg comes forward. It's the sort of thing you see all the time when watching Messi shrug off challenges, and it's very liberating for the more lightweight midfielder like Wilshere or Modric because they can emerge from reckless pressuring with the ball.

It also allows for a lot of incidental touches. Over the course of the weekend I saw a lot of little things like nutmegs or bridges (the ball goes one way, the attacker goes the other). Or Shola Ameobi clumsily chesting a long pass down, a defender moving between him and the ball, Shola reaching a gangly left leg out to knock the ball to the right and just about emerge with the ball only to run into trouble as the next man was ready and waiting to nick the ball away. I saw Nani emerge from the corner of the pitch having just about weaved out of a double pressure. I saw lone strikers take clever first touches to knock the ball out of the defender's reach and win free kicks in good positions, making something out of what seemed like nothing.

The Final Third

Right then. Weve toyed with the oppositions pressure spamming and forced them to think about what theyre doing. Weve probed at their defence, weve created a gap and weve got a clear shooting opportunity. We can see the whites of the keepers eyes and weve pulled our foot back to let rip. This has traditionally been one of the most exciting parts of PES, the moment when you breathe in sharply and your eyes widen, when defenders are most likely to panic and press slide tackle to try and stop the shot/throw themselves in the way. But WENB said the shooting was very floaty, almost broken, in the early code. How is it now?

Fairly good, is the answer. It has a lot of very welcome improvements. Firstly, the ball curls more, and there are more animations available to apply curl to the ball. Adam showed us a video where his David Silva used a shot fake to buy space (think of the shot fakes as more like the classic PS2 versions but with more available exit directions), cutting inside from the left edge of the D, and because the ball was a bit too central he used the outside of his left foot to aim just wide of the far post. As I said with the passing, the ball clearly curled in the air, but then also gripped the pitch when it bounced and changed direction accordingly. In the ball went, no chance for the keeper. It looked great, as all outside of the foot curlers do. But as a standalone replay it was a great demonstration of the return of the proper shot fake, of the knock-on effects the ball physics has across the game, and how it all accentuates individuality and footedness.

In case outside of the foot shots arent enough for you, Konami have returned R2 finesse shots to their former glory. I managed to complete a particularly sweet passing move as Germany by giving the ball to Mesut Özil, who in much the same position as David Silva but with the ball much more on his left. I pressed shoot and then belatedly R2. Özil cocked his leg back for a standard shot, lowered it a bit, lifted it back up again and then dispatched a tasty sidefooted finish in off the inside of the post, curling away from the keeper.

In a later game I had Vucinic (I think) running across Milans defence from right to left, short of passing options but with a narrow gap to shoot through. I powered up a shot and used R2. He hit the ball hard and with whip, about a yard high and wide. It really did look almost vicious compared to last years efforts though and left me in no doubt that R2 shooting will be a viable option from range once again.

That said, there were some issues with the general pace of shots, still. It was clearly much improved from what was described in previous builds I scored an absolute rocket on the half volley with Lucho from the edge of the box but there were still a fair number of attempts on goal that seemed a bit too timid. You do need soft shots on goal occasionally, of course, if you want to represent different player abilities. But the problem was more that the times when players hit soft shots, as opposed to powerful but high and/or wide shots, didnt always make sense.

People who were hoping for changes to the lobs will be disappointed. I scored a lot of them last year, and scored one at the weekend, but I wanted them changed because at the moment you can just charge up to full and hit the lob from the edge of the box, and it will stay under the bar 9 times out of 10. Id add another ten yards onto the maximum distance so that people have to judge the weight. Its not a major concern, but I thought Id let people know lobs are much the same.

There were also a few too many bicycle kicks using an animation that reminded me of a goal Marc Overmars scored years back. Thats been fed back I understand.

Safe Hands

Keepers were undeniably the weakest aspect of the game. In fact it was surprising that it took a couple of hours for any mistakes to really emerge. The main problem was that they were diving over timid shots rather than onto them. There were parrying issues as well, also with fairly weak efforts quite close to the keeper.

It's not as though keepers are completely hopeless though - as I said, for the first couple of hours we thought Adam was having us on because some fantastic saves were being pulled out of the bag. Funnily enough when the shots were powerful or quite far away from the keepers they seemed to behave very much as you'd expect.

Obviously I can't make any guarantees as I have nothing to do with coding the game, but personally I'm very confident that keepers will be up to a very good standard by the time the game goes gold. The problems we saw were mostly based on the animation for diving on the ball not having the right ball tracking, and sorting out the parries is likely to be a priority given the quality of experience Konami are already sitting on right now.

Part 4

Man vs Machine

As you can imagine, it's pretty hard to get a 1 v CPU match when you have very limited time with preview code and paid good money and spent a lot of time travelling there. Or watching animals urinate.

But we did manage a token match each. Between the three of us who were visiting Adam, we had a stab at bettering his 7-1 defeat against Barcelona using Marseille, on the new highest difficulty level - Superstar. None of us did quite so badly, sure - though to be fair, he was trying to win and got exposed at the back, whereas we were just trying not to lose by six goals!

I can safely say that some of the play the CPU was coming up with was daunting. Watching someone else on the receiving end of a Messi dribble, or a tiki-taka masterclass from Xavi and Iniesta, knowing that you're going to play next, makes your palms sweat. What was clear to me was that the CPU knew about the new-found agility to the game as well - the midfield was elusive when pressing; one-twos were sharp and often used simply to allow the initiator to get a better angle to attack the pitch; little turns and shoulder drops bought space when it looked like I was going to get a foot in. It was very much a case of me trying to press enough to stop Barca from getting a completely free reign, but not so much that my defence was left in a 1 on 1 situation against Messi, or that the wide men could sprint into space. In one of the games I noticed the pressing did get a bit reckless, and the score ended up pretty comprehensive.

A particularly nice 1-2 saw Xavi pass 5 yards diagonally forward to an advanced Busquets and then run in much the same direction. The ball was bobbling, as it does whether passing along the ground or dribbling. Busquets, with a defender at his back flicked the ball up off the ground without really changing the direction, and Xavi burst onto it to continue the attack. It was simple, it was one-touch, but it was that right mix of extravagant and effective that has you hitting pause and replaying CPU passing moves.

I'm sure that given time with the game plenty of people will be able to master Superstar. I can completely see why Adam would have been on the end of a hiding - the CPU had phases of taking things easy and passing around the back for ages against us, and Ad was quick to point out that Barca scored pretty much every shot on target against him while Rod had something like 11 shots against and 2 goals conceded (I should've written the actual numbers down in hindsight). But that said I thought I had a decent crack of the whip, controlling the game for spells simply by playing conservatively and defending very carefully for 89 minutes. I lost in the end to a last minute brainfart, where injury time had run out and I was expecting the whistle to blow for full time as Barcelona moved out of their penalty area. I was even trying desperately to commit a foul just to regroup (for shame), but I couldn't get near the buggers. In the end David Villa absolutely tore me a new one with some outrageous sidestepping into the box, and I panicked and hit slide tackle. Penalty. Goal. 2-1. Balls.

The conclusion we took away from this one game each was that, yes we were getting ripped at times, but it felt proportionate and plausible. It didn't feel like there was any cheating going on, or like the CPU ramping up its abilities in order to win; it felt like it was Barcelona giving us a serious going over. That's all you can ask when it comes to making a very hard difficulty setting, IMO, and I really hope this difficulty scales well when you play against Stoke on a cold Tuesday night. It'd be a shame if West Brom turned out to be just as effective and the real determinant was the difficulty. But the only game we played was against Barca. This might be something to ask Lami to try, in fact.

The Beautiful Game?

With the main points about the gameplay typed up within / slightly beyond reason, I thought I'd fit in a couple of lines about the graphics and animations. Yes the graphics are pretty weak from a distance, and it's high time Konami actually stepped things up a gear or two to meet the standard of most next-gen games. Yes the animations are still behind FIFA's as far as transitions and quantity of options are concerned. No the physical interactions aren't as varied as an unscripted, procedural physics engine.

But these tend to be things you notice more when other people are playing (and even then there are still very cool animations peppered about the place ranging from cushioned outside-foot volleys to players appealing for fouls, and some of the collisions and buffeting animations are surprisingly authentic to the nature of the impact). When you're actually playing, except in very extreme cases you simply don't notice any deficiencies. I was completely absorbed by the football match that was unfolding, and the only movement that really mattered to me was the movement of players in my peripheral vision trying to create space - not how perfectly their limbs transitioned from one movement to the next.

PES and The Ever Evolving Game Of Football

Over the past ten years, since PES's studs first clacked their way out of the tunnel and onto the hallowed turf of the PS2, we have seen a marked shift in tactics and in the sorts of players you find on the world's most fearsome teamsheets. Ten years ago, a midfield general was essential - now they are few and far between. The Makelele role was the Patrick Vieira role - a domineering, box to box player who could stamp his authority on a game, sometimes literally. As a result the 'classic number 10' that has always tugged at fans' heart strings would often find himself free to do as he pleases between the opposition midfield and the back four. Andrea Pirlo had moved to Milan after struggling to make a name for himself at Inter and finding himself loaned out to Brescia for a handful of games - it was another two years before Ancelotti thought to move him into the deep lying playmaker position, or the Pierlo role as it's likely to be known for a few years yet.

Most of all, football is played at a higher tempo across Europe, with pressing games, four-tier formations and larger/stronger squads allowing for players to cover larger distances per match, and attackers have become more multi-purpose, more technical and more eager to switch positions off the ball.

PES 2012 certainly handles the older styles of player well, but it seems to be the first football game in a long while to really address the modern evolutions across several areas at once. The improved AI for everyone on the pitch (giving keepers the benefit of the doubt!) and the agility and empowerment of technical, wiry players combine with the improved mental and physical agility of defensive units to replace the disporportionate gap in effectiveness between a great dribbler and a speed merchant, or the need for the catchup bug, or the unreactive defenders when called upon for interceptions. It's a great example of making changes that all have to go in at once in order to work, and the result being more than the sum of its parts.

Eurogamer of all sites put it very well when they described how the football in PES 2012 always feels on the edge of control, rather than being too sedate or too hectic. That's why it's so fun for me as a football sim enthusiast - because the gameplay is on a knife edge in so many important parts of today's version of the sport, it is easy to then tip the balance towards being more controlled and safe, or towards the higher tempo and the risk of losing control.

Remaining Worries

There are only a handful of concerns, or at least things that could do with feeding back to Konami. Ones I haven't covered include moments where a player seems to slow his run to let the ball run into his path, which can lead to being tackled. It only happened a few times but it needs eradicating. Sometimes passes seemed to override what I requested and go short to another target, which I imagine is being sorted as we speak if it hasn't already, but is worth pointing out.

Another issue is the right stick switching, which is hugely liberating but could do with a bit of refining as it can struggle when trying to jump through crowded areas.

Online deserves a thought as well. All this responsiveness will count for nothing if the online experience can't keep up. Defending as a unit and keeping up with Messis and Ronaldos will be exponentially harder if you're a couple of yards behind the pace. This is partly why I'm trying to caveat my praise of the dribbling - it feels great offline when playing for a day, but making a call on how this will feel over a year, particularly against the D1 MLO lot, is way beyond what Rod and I can really try and call at this stage.

Closing Thoughts

Other than those, and points I've covered across this write-up, I have to say I was very happy with what I saw and was sad to leave. The most important thing for me is that, even though we all know certain quirks and flaws will crop up over the course of extended play time, the most important thing is that PES continues to make big strides forward. To switch sports for a moment, we don't need every single aspect of PES to hit a hole in one. We just need them to get on the green, 10 ft or less from the pin, so that next year they can sink an easy putt.

Whatever your feelings about the game when you actually play it rather than read overly long previews, it doesn't matter if 2012 doesn't end up being flawless. Expect a 10/10 from any game and you'll almost always be disappointed. But the closer something gets to a 10, the smaller the changes you need to reach perfection become, and the better each year's play gets as we try to get there.

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Read part one and it all sounds great Kamy, scrolled down to see how long Part 2 was lol and I'll have to come back to it, thanks for taking the time to write it though, I'll be sure to check it out later, very excited about it, always been a huge fan of PES and started playing MLO about a month ago on PES11 and fell in love with the game again. (Can't believe I never knew this was an option before)

If PES 2012 has been built on the improvement from 2011 then it really could be one hell of a game.

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The last few Fifas have been far superior to Pro Evos, that's really hard for me to say as for me, Pro Evo was always the better game! If they'd kept re-making Pro Evo 4, but upping the graphic and updating the teams year upon year I'd have been happy with that ;)

I really hope this is a good one though, I miss the old gameplay that was so quick and enjoyable, great for multiplayer with the lads as well! :D

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things i would like to see changed on pes,

1. the celebrations, so mind numbing,

2. the lack of weather changes during games, would make it feel more realistic

3. the lack of the bundersliga on master mode.

4. the fact that when you are through on goal and the referee calls back an earlier foul on one of your players when he could have let it go.

5. giving straight red cards to players when it was a yellow at the most.

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PES were always a raw game, and what I mean by that, is that a pass or shot were never precise or clean. on Fifa it seems a pass or shot is always perfect, while on PES its never that way. maybe its just me, but PES comes across as a real footy game, with lots of rough game play.

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Controlling your settings does bring an extra dimension to FIFA, but the problems i have with FIFA are not the controls.

I mainly played Ultimate Team and the problems i had was really poor defensive AI, Passing, Shooting, Lobbed Passing all being computer assisted.

Credit to EA they have created a game that is easy to pick up and play and difficult to master, The trouble is the easy to play aspect is so effective that there's no point mastering it.

They really need more varitey in goals, look on youtube at the best FIFA goals and despite build up the balls always go in the net the same way.

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Another PES2012 Preview, Written By Alan Curdie of Winning Eleven Next Generation Blog:

After putting many hours into playing PES2012 I have come to the conclusion that it is no FIFA, nor is it a PES2011. After reaching this conclusion I realised I was both very happy indeed that this was the case, as well as appreciating in full that I am a pretty damned observant individual.

When I was afforded the opportunity to play preview code last year, circumstances were very different to that of last week. For a start I wasn’t turning up in Manchester last Thursday off the back of a stag weekend in Berlin with my mind and body clearly having had a falling out. No, what made things different this time is that instead of a 24hr stay it would be pushing 72hrs, meaning much more game time and that also I would experiencing the game with a number of my colleagues from WENB/Kitana Media and a couple of cameo appearances by others thrown in for good measure. This was something I missed out on last year and turned out to be hugely beneficial in that it allowed me to appreciate some of the games finer points when not playing. It also acted as a great bonding exercise for the Kitana team beyond playing the game itself and I departed from my time in Manchester feeling that I had met with folk whom I can happily consider as friends. PES, it would appear, does indeed unite and huge thanks have to go to Adam and his family for their wonderful hospitality. Now let’s talk PES2012!

With the press embargo lifting last week and there now being a plethora of detailed PES2012 gameplay impressions available, I thought it would be a good opportunity to look back at my experience of PES2012 last week during the WENB playtest festival of awesome which looked to excel in outstanding contribution in the field of excellence to football videogames. In other words, some of us got together and had a shot of it over the course of last week. This isn’t a full on impressions or preview post exactly as I feel there has been a ton of excellent content offered by WENB and those in the wider community that look to dissect thoroughly just about every facet of this year’s title based on the preview we had access to.

I guess I am looking to get across just how much of an impact a few elements of the gameplay in PES2012 had on me. This is not me saying that the game is flawless as there was, as expected, a degree of ”rawness” to be found with the code. What did take me by surprise was how stable the game performed generally and I was already mindful that of some of the issues existing in the preview code (keepers/shooting) were subject to further work. WENB’s own Suff and Asim Tanvir of NGB posted on twitter after time with new code earlier in the week that things have progressed further along in these departments. With that in mind I don’t think it is worth me touching on these aspects of the game as it is best to avoid any confusion.

Freedom Liberated

If there was one thing PES2011 looked to deliver, it was freedom of play, and for all that the core mechanics and technical assets tried their damndest to make this so, the game was hamstrung somewhat due to the limitations of the team having to essentially start from scratch. That said, the theory of engineering the game for freedom was sound and PES2011 had its moments of brilliance. They (Konami) were on to something and only a lack of all round stability and consistency in performance prevented the game from fully satisfying a passionate fanbase. We were on board with the vision but found ourselves scratching our heads perhaps a little too often at the quality of execution. PES2012 looks to run with what PES2011 promised, yet in doing so Konami have wrong footed us in how we would expect that vision to materialise. Where many would consider a technical leap from Konami similar to that which EA offered up moving from FIFA08 to FIFA09 to be the only solution, they have instead made a leap in core gameplay fundamentals that can be deemed just as impacting in their own right to that of EA’s efforts in 2008 when looking to construct a realistic, deep, but most importantly fun football videogame. Konami understand that the tech-war is not in fact a war at all but merely one of the battles to be fought and at this time it isn’t a fight they are going to win with this instalment. Enter the less glamorous ‘’ones and zeros’’ under all those presentation assets that ultimately drive any videogame experience and what allows PES2012 to be such a flexible and diverse football game.

‘’Active AI’’ is the official name but ‘’Actual Intelligence’’ – though sounding somewhat profound – is how Konami could have chosen to label the beating heart of PES2012 had they been in the mood to up the stakes in the feature naming game that is now part of this generation. The thing is, and let it be known that this is a positive, that this innovation that has been introduced to the franchise doesn’t leap out at you immediately. At very first glance, PES2012 looks very much like an improved, more fluid, ‘’alive’’ version of PES2011. This in itself is not a bad thing but bare in mind this is only at first glance. In my first match I was guilty of playing from muscle memory; not only utilising an approach born of hours upon hours of PES2011 but years of playing football games in general. Despite being forewarned of how advanced PES2012 looked to be in relation AI, I was failing right away to truly appreciate it and was guilty of looking at it as mere decoration – an aesthetic asset as opposed to a genuine aid to my play. This is not to say that what movement was being made wasn’t impressive or aiding me in my debut run out with the game, with full-back overlaps, forwards probing for space and the checking of runs plain to see, it’s just that in playing the game in the style I was – too direct, too fast, ill disciplined and untrusting of my players when in possession – I failed to truly survey the scene and this was made only more noticeable given that I was Barcelona. It wasn’t that I didn’t try to play like the current European Champions, more that I was trying to play like them using a PES2011 nay, any football game pre-PES2012 mindset. Sure, the core technique and make-up of the Barca team ensured I could always threaten my opposition but I was being wasteful with possession, the talent at my disposal, but most of all I wasn’t making use of the intelligence in off-the-ball movement and positioning of my team.

‘’Just play like Barca’’

This was the advice offered to me by my host for the weekend, who was quick to see the error of my ways. Now, that may come across as stating the bleeding obvious as well as potentially sounding damned patronising but here is the thing – it was the right advice to offer. This is how much Konami’s latest rewards you when you ‘’think football’’ and more or less directly apply your knowledge and understanding of the sport and its teams, tactics, individuals, and playing styles in particular. Obviously, for all the advances made in AI and other assets it doesn’t mean the game is completely limitless with possibility, or so deep as to capture every single individual trait of a team or individual. It is still just a videogame approximation of the beautiful game after all, with much of the real sports subtleties yet to be captured but PES2012 does a bloody marvellous job of trying to make you believe such limitless depth exists within the code. The game inspiring such a train of thought is very reminiscent of the classic PS2 titles. After gathering myself at the half time break and with my hosts wise council duly noted, I took to the field with a little more composure in my play and…

…I still ended up getting beat! Barcelona 1 – Benfica 3.

It wasn’t about winning though and my disappointment at losing my first match on PES2012 was greatly tempered by the fact that I had just played a second half in which my passing game at least was a worthy digital replica of the real life Barca in phases. I slowed my game down when in midfield with ball retention my number one priority and as a result the (active) AI – in tandem with players own characteristics on and off the ball – began to manifest in a way I haven’t really seen in a football game before. Suddenly I was spotting players looking for space that went far beyond mere overlapping runs (which were also far more noticeable and effective); players coming short, making little movements to lose markers and those very ‘’purdy’’ diagonal runs where all on display, inviting me to produce the football for which the Catalan giants are known. It was as if wee digital Xavi, Iniesta, Busquets and Messi were coaching me on the football they look to play and I was delighted to take them up on the offer. A Thoroughly satisfying debut apart from the result, with credit also having to go to the COM controlled Benfica in quickly making me aware that you can’t switch off and every ball is there to be won, along with schooling me in how blindly steaming in to regain possession can often make you look very, very stupid indeed.

It is absolutely vital to notify all before moving on that such was the evolution of my passing game and the freedom the game allows in this department – thanks in no small part to vastly improved through balls and the manual modifier actually adding something to play – that just over 24hrs later I was handing a certain Milan supporter his ass! Me playing as Italy with a turbo-charged Giovinco running the show and destroying my opponent’s England side, 3-1. A proud moment and he won’t like me telling you this…that he picked England.

The Lord of the Dance vs. Barjen Robben

There was one key aspect of the gameplay I just couldn’t fully unlock the potential of in my time playing but I was able to witness its beauty thanks to those others who were present. Dribbling in PES2012 as it stands in this preview code is quite incredible and previously mentioned Milan fan had it aced, hence why I look to emphasise my one glorious 3-1 victory over him whenever possible. We have all seen the videos showing how 1 on 1’s are being approached in this year’s game but let me tell you our host for our WENB gathering would appear to have unlocked so much more wonderful secrets in this discipline. The way it was described by Adam was ‘’a game of rock, paper, scissors’’ and I can see exactly what he means such is how it appears to work. I would add to this ‘’ballet performed on a knife edge’’ which makes no sense whatsoever but I am rolling with it, though possibly Eurogamer put it best when they said you feel as though you are ‘’playing close to the edge of your abilities’’. We really are talking about the absolute finest of margins here and when you succeed and dance your way through three players with such balletic beauty it looks and feels terrific, though perhaps not as beautiful or terrific as Mila Kunis in Black Swan. The work that has been put into making these face-offs at close proximity give the dribbling added dimension and depth. Think FIFA’s ‘’knock-on/first touch’’ control but something that feels less engineered, more organic and sprinkled with incidental and contextual flair which seems to vary from player to player and situation. Okay, there might not be 80,000,000 animations in place but there certainly is a surprising level of variety on show. Thomas ‘’The’’ Broad seemed to get the hang of using bursts of speed and spinning his marker with his back to goal early doors and scored a simply wonderful goal with van Persie only a couple of minutes into his first game. Very van Persie like in its execution and one of those moments from our time playing that reminded me of the PS2 days.

Of course, you can still look to use more orthodox methods along with the usual tricks and feints – including the improved shot feint – in which Danny was glad to illustrate via his constant use of ‘Barjen Robben’. To be fair, Danny was merely looking to use the main strength in his line-up and for all that the threat posed when he had Robben on the ball was very real, which is as it should be, he was made to work to beat his man and it just added to his pleasure no doubt! Thankfully and more importantly realistically, for all that dribbling has improved immeasurably over PES2011 and could be *whispers* the best dribbling has ever been in a PES game…maybe any football game*whispers* it’s not over the top, nor is it the case that a central defender will be slaloming or pirouetting his team to glory. Also, while the catch-up bug has gone, this does not mean we get the polar opposite as a result and have players tearing away from their markers. No, the balance at this juncture appears to be just right and it has a lot to do with Active AI fulfilling its role well, thus demanding that a player more often than not has to beat his man and those secondary pressers in order to go through the gears fully.

It really needs be said that never before in a football game have ‘’mighty midgets’’ or ‘’technicians’’ looked and felt so colossal out on the field. The likes of Silva, Modric and rather memorably for myself in one particular game I won 3-1, Giovinco, all stand out superbly. The more languid style best epitomised by someone like Busquets is well realised as well in that they he possesses a level of on the ball ‘smarts’ that sees him able to show composure in spite of a lack of pace and mobility on the ball. I don’t think I need to detail just how explosive Messi and Ronaldo are but let me just say that from what I witnessed they have been realised fantastically. It isn’t about these player’s abilities exclusively however, and all that goes on around them plays a huge part in making all these individuals stand out in PES2012.

The Return of an Art Form?

What would all this improvement and innovation matter if the defending wasn’t fit for purpose? Well, defending is pretty damned solid from my experience though it is demanding in just the right way. Timing and clever, conservative utilisation of secondary press is key and echoes what was present in the later PS2 offerings, though the system in PES2012 feels much more refined thanks to what in my opinion is a far more intuitive contain mechanic. The visual signposting as to what your player is doing is far clearer than found in PES2011 resulting in greater confidence when facing up to an attack, which naturally is helped by the AI improvements that see that a greater level of organisation and awareness is present.

Such is the depth of control at the disposal of the ball carrier and the intricacies present in 1 on 1 situations that they do feel like a genuine test of nerve and composure when undertaking defensive duties, especially when facing up against speed stars and players who possess excellent technique and hold up play ability. This includes when they have their back to goal and are receiving a pass. Often I found my defenders getting beaten by a clever first touch or spin into space due to me being over eager to get to the ball. In PES2012, much like the real sport, you will have to sometimes concede ground if it means getting that right moment to make the challenge or wait for the necessary support to arrive in order to temper an attack. There were even moments of defensive flair apparent in my time playing, with one goal saving clearance from Gari in a match against Danny that will live long in the memory. It took us all by surprise that one, especially Danny! Elsewhere I spotted little flicks and moments of control when a defender was dealing with an awkward ball that made defending look all the more tidy and composed. No more stage fright when dealing with through balls is also a welcome (and damned necessary!) fix as well and the all round alertness to stray balls, along with defenders looking to intercept and block not going without note either. The return of the art of defending? It be looking rather promising on this evidence.

Closing Thoughts

Make no mistake, for all that PES2012 is cut from the same cloth as PES2011 and shares some similarities in look and in some motion, it plays a game that is so far removed from last year’s offering as to be unrecognisable. This latest outing from Konami actually vindicates a lot of what PES2011 looked to offer fans and is a great advert for developers looking to implement fan feedback as well as ensuring that their own vision isn’t completely compromised in the process. PES 2012 is more of the same with the emphasis very much being on the ‘’more’’; more animation(though not genre defining for a sports title), more graphical polish, more stable, more fluid, more freedom of play, more tactical options, more off-the-cuff flair, more depth, more emotion, more passion, more possibility….erm…more goalkeeping!

The team in Japan not looking to start again from scratch has resulted in them producing something that ironically feels as though they have re-built the game entirely. This is a parallel that PES2012 shares in common with those titles from the PS2 glory days (though far more pronounced in this case) and it is surely no coincidence that with this being first game on next-gen for the franchise that looked to use the previous instalment as a solid base, it has benefited development of PES2012 enormously in pure gameplay terms.

As development enters into injury time the hope is that so much of what shines in preview code is not compromised as Konami look to deliver what is shaping up to be without doubt their finest effort in this generation.

I leave you with these words of wisdom as we venture forward to gamescom…

I beat Adam 3-1! Oh, and playing the game from pitchside camera is the way to go ;)

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