Pro Evolution Soccer 2011 3D
This game was reviewed on the Nintendo 3DS.
Konami’s flagship soccer title, Pro Evolution Soccer: 2011 3D, arrives on Nintendo’s 3DS. Is it top of the league or in danger of relegation?
The Pro Evolution Soccer series wasn’t exactly a regular on Nintendo’s first dual-screen wonder, but Konami’s latest installment brings the series out of handheld retirement with new 3D features to boot.
If you’ve played any Pro Evolution Soccer game before, you will be able to pick up and play this version with no problem at all. Player movement is controlled through the circle or d-pad, the ball is put into play using the four face buttons, and the shoulder buttons are responsible for performing tricks and sprinting respectively. This is the standard affair that PES players the world over will be familiar with. Where the 3DS version differs from its console cousins is in the use of the touchscreen. This allows for the customization of attacking and defensive play and the activation of saved tactics on the fly all through a simple touch of the bottom screen. The game’s radar is also displayed here, rather than invading the gameplay screen, ensuring that the player can see as much of the action as possible. It’s an intuitive and thoughtful system that may prove to be the model followed by other developers on how to display sports games on the 3DS.
Aside from the use of the touchscreen, the other major change in this version is the way you view the play. The default camera is now over-the-shoulder, which was previously saved only for the series’ Become a Legend mode. This perspective looks very impressive and adds a palpable sense of distance between players, especially when the 3D is activated. As remarkable as this mode is, it does prove problematic as it obscures some of the action. This is particularly evident when you’re defending, as it’s difficult to track the ball, and the constant movement of the camera can become quite disorientating. The standard side-on view makes the impact of 3D less noticeable, but the overall gameplay experience is more manageable and much easier to play.
Whichever camera angle you choose, you will be able to enjoy a good game of football. The game play holds up well against console iterations of the game; it’s exciting, precise and rewarding. The AI is challenging enough to give veterans of the series a real run for their money in the higher difficulty levels, whilst being tame enough for newcomers to the series on the easier levels.
The controls are precise enough to ensure you have complete control over what your players are doing, with the power to replicate the dribbling wizardry of Lionel Messi which, on a handheld, is an achievement all on its own. It’s not just in the player movement where Pro Evolution Soccer demonstrates its precision. The passing mechanic requires the player to combine power and direction for accurate and effective passing is implemented in a way that allows the player to feel in control of how the game is played out.
Graphically, Pro Evolution Soccer: 2011 3D also looks the part. Detailed player models, impressive stadiums and a solid frame-rate in both 2D and 3D modes are all evident in demonstrating that the 3DS is a huge technological leap forward from the DS. The player animations are sublime, and they look better than those found on the Wii version, successfully replicating soccer legends ranging from Wayne Rooney to Didier Drogba and Cristiano Ronaldo.
Unfortunately, what Konami gives with one hand, it takes away with the other. Pro Evolution Soccer: 2011 3D is nowhere near as comprehensive as console editions. Although it includes the fully licensed Master and Champions League modes for a deep and rewarding experience, the Become a Legend mode is sorely missed. The omission seems particularly strange as the 3DS’s default gameplay camera is the one developed for this mode. The exclusion of Training mode is another strange decision on Konami’s part as the lack of one makes it difficult for newcomers to the series to get a handle on how the game plays. For a quick fix, there is also single-player and local two-player exhibition modes available.
Multiplayer is another casualty. You can play head-to-head over local wireless, but there isn’t a facility for download play so both players need a copy of the game. However Konami can be forgiven on this front as running multiplayer such as this from one cartridge would most likely result in severe slowdown. Unfortunately, the disappointments don’t stop at a lack of download play. The absence of any real online functionality is a glaring oversight. Whilst an online Master League would have been a bit much to ask for, there isn’t even the most basic head-to-head online multiplayer. This is hugely disappointing as other publishers, such as Capcom, have proven that 3DS’s online infrastructure is more than capable of handling the demands that games like this require. StreetPass functionality is included, allowing players to automatically play against passers-by. Whilst it’s a nice feature that encourages players to play the Master League mode, it’s not enough to fill by the missing online functionality.
Presentation has always been a secondary concern for the Pro Evolution Soccer series, and sadly this trend continues in the 3DS version of the game. The navigational menus are functional but decidedly plain, with the accompanying music missing the licensed tracks that make the menus found in FIFA games more than a monotonous jaunt through text. Another audio asset that is decidedly average is the in game commentary provided by Jon Champion and Jim Beglin. Although their job is done amicably, there is no banter or witty insights into the game they are presiding over. The result is an incredibly scripted experience that lacks spontaneity found in games like FIFA.
Pro Evolution Soccer: 2011 3D is a fair entry into the series on 3DS. Whilst not a return to form, it puts in a good début performance that captures the gameplay that made the series so popular. That said, there are some issues that still need to be ironed out. Despite its gameplay and graphical glory, blatant omissions in game modes ensure that the whole experience feels a little hollow and shallow. Overall I would rate Pro Evolution Soccer: 2011 3D at 3.5/5
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