It’s nearing that time of year again when every football fan has to make the biggest choice of the year, Pro Evolution Soccer or FIFA. Both series have had the better of each other over the years but Pro Evo has been acting much like Liverpool, once the best in the world but recently overshadowed by FIFA‘s seemingly unstoppable Manchester United. Like Liverpool though PES’s fortunes look to be back on the rise and this could be the year when it once again lives up to the expectations it built up all those years ago.
To give us a taste of things to come Konami have released a demo featuring the likes of AC Milan, Man Utd, Napoli, Porto, Penarol and Santos. After watching an excessively long and unskippable video showing you how pretty the game looks you can choose either an exhibition match between the European teams, play the Copa Libertados final between Penarol and Santos or you can play some training challenges.
The training challenges introduce you to some of the new features of Pro Evo 12‘s gameplay, like being able to control team mates when running with the ball. This mode, while quite enjoyable, won’t be needed by PES veterans but if you’re a FIFA fan make sure it’s your first stop.
Most of the changes Pro Evo 12 are clear from the kick-off on the pitch though. The game feels a lot more realistic than previous instalments with the focus shifting from the ultra attacking approach that football games have been taking since Sensible Soccer to a more balanced and defensive outlook.
Breaking through an opponents defence requires skill, whether it be from elaborate passing, great off-the-ball running or deft footwork. You can’t just run into a defender and expect to come out with the ball you need to work the defence, pulling them out of position before you even have a chance at getting a shot on target.
As a football simulation this is the closest any game has come so far. Players all feel unique and all act in appropriate ways when controlled by the AI. Nani brings out the skills at every opportunity, Gattuso hunts down players like a rabid terrier and Hulk hammers through anyone who gets in his way.
From the demo alone it’s clear that PES 12 is a major step forward in the series and with more improvements on the way before it hits stores on the 14th of October this may be the first time in years when gamers will have a real decision over which football game to buy.
Pro Evolution Soccer 12 will be available 14/10/2011 on PC, 360 and PS3. It will also be available on PS2, PSP and Wii later this year. Demo played on the PS3.