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Pro Evolution Soccer 2012 – IT’S DEMO TIME!

Written by on Saturday, 3 September 20118 Comments

In professional wrestling, the WWE pay-per-view that ends the month of January begins what is referred to as ‘The Road to Wrestlemania’, essentially a 2-month period of matches and promos which act as an extended build-up to the hottest wrestling event of the year. The first demo to PES 2012 was released recently and i’m calling it – we’ve just entered ‘The Road to Footiemania’.

‘Footiemania’ is the period of time that links the releases of the two major football titles, those that we look forward to every year. Now that we’ve got our first demo, it’s all on. And this demo doesn’t disappoint. To begin with, there is an excellent starting video which showcases the top graphics, as they do each year. Things to note: Good focus on England team, Forlan sure looks good, nice cameo from Ganso… The video focuses largely on the varying pass/ball control elements of the game so that’s what I expected when I booted it up.

The first thing we’re greeted with is the warning that “this demo is taken from a product that is still in development and as such does not represent the quality and appearance of the final product”. There’s not much time left to develop the game however, so a safe bet would be that the gameplay in the final product will be very similar to this.

The menu is similar to last year’s revamp, just a lot more polished. The video is running in the background, which suggests the possibility of having videos running in the menu screen of the main game. I don’t want the PES 2012 background to be a closeup of Cristiano Ronaldo, though. Couldn’t it be used for replays of previous goals? Also worth noting is the new menu item – Football Life.

Only accessible are the exhibition and Copa America modes, which means that there are slightly more options for matches than there was in last year’s demo. You can either play as Santos v Penarol, or as one of the four following teams: Man Utd, AC Milan, Porto & Napoli. The latter two are a strange inclusion, as is the lack of Real Madrid (considering the discovery that Cristiano Ronaldo is the new poster-child).

I like the rating system under each team, showing Offensive, Defensive, Tactical, Speed, Technical and Physical ratings numerically, as well as a letter ranking, though the lack of an Overall rating is a shame. Also, how is it that AC Milan are rated so much higher than Man Utd? It seems that the slightly insane PES rankings are back in full force this season.

I opted to defend English pride by playing as Man Utd against Porto. The following screen is unchanged from last year, with a player from each team standing next to the logos, although the load time was faster and both players look very realistic – the best i’ve seen yet in a football game.

The tactics screen all looks polished. Again we’re building on the successful system put in place last year, so imagine that but with simple (yet effective) differences. A text box at the top of the screen notes what tactic the team is set to play, with the four preset ones being ‘Quick Counter’, ‘Long Ball’, ‘Possession Game’ and ‘Standard’. By selecting one of these presets you can edit many different sliders that would seemingly have a big effect on how the AI positions your players. A nice feature.

Vidic is the highest rated player in the Man Utd team; a 92 overall. Rooney follows closely on 91 (if you change his position). Overall, Man Utd only have nine players rated above 80 in their team, which is interesting. De Gea has the strangest rating – 78 overall. If you select players you can see their rating in four categories, alongside a picture of themselves and another chosen player. This makes comparisons even easier than before.

No commentary in this demo i’m afraid, but we are treated to what must be a near-final pre-match buildup. Good graphics for the players, nice crowd sounds, everything looks very slick and stylish. I can only imagine how fantastic this must look on Cup Final day. The ball is placed in the centre-circle and i’m feeling very excited to get my very first taste of Pro Evo 2012…

…and you press X to start!! Hooray! No more accidentally passing to the opposition when you’ve been playing FIFA for too long! At any rate, the first thing you’ll notice is that the players pass better. You’ve got a heck of a lot of control over through balls which really makes skill important. The game seems somewhat more forgiving than it did last year, but weighting passes correctly is still hugely important.

The mechanics for passing really make you feel proud of your goals. There’s little room for individual skill if you’re not abusing the shoot/cancel tactic, so teamwork is once again paramount. I easily scored a fantastic goal after some solid passes, coupled with a fun lob over the keeper. One of the things that makes this so great is the first touch mechanic new to the game, allowing you to direct your players much easier than before.

The auto-cross is much better than i’ve seen in any other football game… possibly too good. It really pays to cross the ball into the box now and you’ll be doing that a lot more often to get goals. There needs to either be improved AI for defending crosses or the crosses have to be made worse before the game is shipped – right now crossing can be a guaranteed goal half the time.

Nonetheless, the running animation doesn’t quite feel right and you’ll find some players move awkwardly. Some frames were dropped during certainly sequences and you can tell that this is not the final product. I’m sure these issues will be addressed in the next month. I could swear that a player did a trick automatically as well, which I do not like one bit. And despite the improved crosses, I didn’t see any real improvement to set pieces. Hopefully they will be improved though.

A final point to make on the demo is that substitutions were quick and painless. Good to see that taken care of; it may be too late to add quick-throws but at least making the time taken shorter will make some fans happy. All post-match information is unchanged.

So, to summarise…

Pros:

Ball control, passing, moving, first touch, shooting, improved AI. Passing again. I can’t stress enough just how fantastic it is to pass the ball in this game. You’ll want to pass it through defenses rather than go it alone all the time just because it’s so fun. It’s also far more effective, unless you’re substantially better at the game than I am!

Cons:

Free kicks/corners seem relatively unchanged. Some animations are still very sloppy, although that could be changed before release. Shooting is weighted well, but there is something to be said about how many of my shots are going off-target at the moment. Just a thought.

What it needs:

Quick-throws would be nice, and i’m really hoping that the set pieces are improved as well as the AI for defending crosses. Other than that, Konami have yet to offer anything that mimics the fantastic Arena mode from the FIFA series, so something of that ilk would go down a treat.

And finally….

Remember when we thought Neymar was going to be on the cover of PES 2012? And it turned out to be Cristiano Ronaldo? Maybe a deal went wrong somewhere, because Neymar is rated terribly in this game – 78 overall. How utterly odd. As always, leave comments in the comments box and tell me what you think about the demo!