FIFA versus PES2012: Yes, It's that time of the year once again when the two biggest football games go head-to-head with the EA Sports franchise having the better of the most recent battles
PES 2012, Pro Evo 2012, Pro Evolution Soccer 2012 - whatever you want to call it, it's here. And as you'll see in this review of the much mooted football game, it's set to give rival FIFA 12 a run for its money.
And if you're a self-confessed footie freak, you may also want to check out our FIFA 12 review to see how Pro Evolution's competitor fares.
PES 2012 graphics
Having been converted by FIFA's polished visuals, realistic gameplay and all-round extra gloss, like an ex-girlfriend you are still friends with on Facebook, you always like to keep an eye on how they are doing. Visually, Pro Evolution 2012 impresses when it comes to spotting Cristiano Ronaldo however we are not sure we can say the same for hundreds of players who don't seem to have had the same love and affection as the Real Madrid man. Aside from the players themselves, the surroundings (stadiums essentially) benefit greatly from dynamic lighting which gives matches a more atmospheric feel.
PES 2012 gameplay
What was immediately apparent from the Pro Evolution 2012 demo and our time with the full version of the game was the change in the pace of the game. What has in recent years felt quite archaic and arcade-like has now been replaced with a more natural, free flowing tempo that makes for more fluid game time.
This is complimented by a more comprehensive passing system that makes 'tiki-taka' easier to pull off and with more wide-ranging passing at your disposal there is definitely an emphasis on building from the back.
It's a shame that on the gameplay front it all goes a little downhill from here. We had real issues with the shooting mechanism that all our shots on goal felt like tame efforts that the goalkeeper could safely gather. Similarly we had issues with heading which felt difficult to master and in many instances left us nodding the ball into dangerous areas of the pitch.
Having already picked up FIFA 12 and seen the impressive 360 dribbling system and improved player movement in action, it was disappointing that same couldn't be same of the same elements in Pro Evolution 2012. Player movement looked rigid at best and as for the dribbling, and running down the wing resembled what we'd imagine Gareth Bale to be like if he was a robot. The issues of collisions and their realistic resolution was an area that EA Sports sought to fix from FIFA 11, but the same cannot be said about Pro Evolution 2012. Players consistently bump into each other throughout matches resulting in an often scrappy and infuriating game.
Computer AI certainly impresses at least from an attacking point of view as moves from the computer-controlled opponent construct moves with a series of intricate passes while players will look to make intelligent runs off the ball. The defensive AI still feels like it needs some refining, but it is overall a success in this department.
PES 2012 features
The bread and butter for Pro Evolution in recent years has been the excellent Master League mode. Bringing a more 'Football Manager' feel to proceedings this year, Konami has added a new dimension with cut-scenes and the great addition of an assistant manager who will talk your through tactics on a chalkboard and suggests new players making this Master League more engrossing than ever.
Online is where games can live and die by these days, and thankfully everything seems to be in working order here. Having suffered from serious connection issues in previous instalments, Konami has clearly sought to improve on this front to help avoid the dreaded 'lag' factor.
PES 2012 verdict
Ultimately, Pro Evolution 2012 will be judged on two basis. How does it fair to its predecessor and simply, is it better than FIFA 12? On the first basis this is undoubtedly a massive improvement on Pro Evolution 2011 offering more fluid gameplay, improved AI, plus we love the revamped Master League. But up against FIFA 12, there is only real winner. The new impact engine, tactical defending and slicker gameplay puts FIFA 12 head and shoulders above Pro Evolution 2012. Fans of Pro Evo fans will appreciate that the game harks back to its more successful roots, but evolution seems a more apt assessment of its rival than the game that adopts it within its name.
PES 2012 availability: Out October 14th 2011
PES 2012 price: £39.99 on Playstation 3, Xbox 360 and £29.99 on PC from retailers including Zavvi who provided our review sample.