After the great German feedback for our playtest impressions, we decided to publish an English version of the full article Marvin (nickname: mrbasket) wrote. Our awesome teammember Ben (nickname: chaos) translated the whole article in several hours of hard work (fantastic job mate!) and here it comes for you guys.
Prorevo plays an early version of PES 2012
A debug PS3, a flat screen TV, seven hours with an early version of PES 2012 (E3 code). It’s one of those days you’ve been waiting nearly forever. In the end, it’s one of those days that are over all too fast. With this article, we want to give you our impressions of that version of PES 2012 and explain, what we were impressed with and what still has to be fixed by the Japanese developer team. During the test, we wrote nearly 12 pages of notes and took down every little detail. We hope to offer you the most detailed preview of PES 2012: independently and objectively. Enjoy!
Just a reminder: we cannot answer questions regarding game modes and licences. We had several national and club teams available for exhibition matches. Furthermore, we will not show any inofficial pictures or movies. We were not allowed to take pictures/record movies as the game is still in development. – But there’s enough official stuff from KONAMI during the article.
Selecting teams is more or less the same as last year except for the team rating. Instead of a hexagon, you now have a new rating system for six categories. This system shows grades from A (very good) to D (comparatively bad) for the attributes attack, defense, physicality, tactics, technique and speed. You still drag and drop your players in the management screen, with a little extension that shows the selected players‘ faces below on the screen. In addition, you can define 4 tactical sets that you can switch between on the pitch with the D-Pad.
It’s easily recognisable that the developers greatly increased the pool of animations and reduced the time it takes for players, to execute particular movements. In previous installments you often thought that your action could not be performed due to an animation that had to be completed first. In PES 2012 it feels smoother and more sensitive. Some player animations attract attention: sliding tackles are completely redone, which looks exceptionally well when intercepting high balls. Players are more active in general. For instance, a player who knows that he cannot reach the ball in time tries to block the cross or the shot by throwing himself into the path of the ball.
Hereby he turns around to not get hit in the face but just on the back. Just a small addition, which will please sticklers for details, as many of such small things are in the game. Another example: if a player tries to intercept a cross but knows that he’ll miss the ball, he’ll jump anyway but will withdraw his leg in the air.
Behaviour of players:
Controlling players is immensely improved. 360 degree movement is much more sensible and animations allow smooth player movements. We had some kind of 360 degree movement in PES 2011 but when you changed directions, it took the game some time to end the current animation. Players in PES 2012 have become much more responsive and enable you to move them accurately with the analogue stick. In our version, controlling the keeper manually was turned off. You could switch to the keeper but you couldn’t move him at all. Hopefully, this will work in the final game.
It is now simpler to use the lifted through ball controlledly. The defenders will still block him in many cases but played into free space it becomes a dangerous move.
The feeling of the game impressively benefits from the animations, which catches your eye in several occasions. Let me explain this, based on some examples:
1) High balls after crosses or changeovers are smoothly accepted by a player and controllable in an instant.
2) In last year’s PES, I often played a through ball alongside the sideline of the pitch to a player. This ball collided with the back heel of the player and then into touch many times. This year, the player knows very well how the ball is moving and controls it with a single touch of his foot. No more unforced errors in this situation.
One thing that has yet to be fixed is when players run towards the ball. The whole time with full speed but slow down a few yards before the ball. The opposing player, however, runs with full speed and steals sometimes the ball. This caused the loss of the ball all too often when trying to put the ball past a defender and to run past him. This is annoying and definitely has to be fixed.
Aiming the ball seems to be a bit easier than last year, especially shots on the run are more efficient. You can unleash some nice screamers once in a while. The rest was more or less the same as in PES 2011.
Keepers seem to be very reliable. The intercept high crosses or corner kicks if they can reach the ball. Sadly, they still take hours to get up from the ground. On the contrary, we had none but two occasions, where the keeper failed. That’s a good news.
Defending vs. Attacking:
When you’re defending, you instantly recognise that you really have to time your tackles. Your opponent reacts more sensitive when you collide with him.
Colliding will mostly result in a free kick. Choosing the correct path and good timing are key elements for successful defending. It’s in evidence that players are moving as a unit on the pitch. An important improvement is the removal of the „catch-up-bug“. In PES 2011 it was nearly impossible for an attacker to run away from a defender even if he had a small advantage. In our test, the attacker was rarely caught by an equally fast defender. Of course, he is slower with the ball, but only a bit. Hence, there are more one on one situations with the keeper if a through ball is played successfully.
Additionally, the long stumbling animation was removed. In PES 2011, the attacker stumbled and became unresponsive for seconds and another player was selected. This bug is fixed, hooray! If your player stumbles, you keep control and can instantly try to regain possession of the ball. Chances are now averaged, allowing the defender to take over control of the ball if the tackle is timed right.
Referees are convincing, they take a firm stand on fouls. They often had to stop the match as we mostly mistimed our tackles, throwing the opponent off balance. We had to adjust ourselves at first, but we quickly learned, which actions were stopped and which were not. Players who prefer fair play will have only a few breaks. There are no more fouls given for block tackles, which is great. The referees went steady on yellow cards but they correctly red-carded for rude fouls in two times out of three. Altogether, wrong decisions were very rare and acceptable.
Nevertheless, quick free kicks cannot be used as frequently as we would have liked. We seldom got the chance for a quick free kick. Furthermore, the referee never booked a player after he let the play continue because of the advantage rule.
All in all, we appreciate the referees and their actions, as soon as we grasped their style of refereeing.
To my mind, one of the biggest flaws in PES 2011 are the players that are always off side. Especially when starting a counter attack, they seem to fall into the defenders‘ offside trap willingly, confused and disoriented. Today, we realised that the AI of the attackers had been heavily improved. Consequently, offside situations were reduced to a minimum and attacks can be executed more effective because the team mates don’t wait in an offisde position but plan their path carefully.
Free kicks are implemented under the heading ‚continuous play‘. You still can call for an assistive player and change the side he’s standing at. This happens without any black screen. The players are running by from the pitch or walk away when not needed anymore. Similarily, you place defenders in the wall, they are not teleported from somewhere but run from the play without break. It looks absolutely stunning. – More details to the Free kicks below at „Off-the-Ball-Control“.
It’s difficult to rate graphics at this early stage so we won’t judge.
However, the pitch colour looks very natural and the lighting very realistic. In replays, you can even see the sweat on the players‘ faces. Oh, and the nets are square. The audience didn’t evolve that much, sadly, there were no flags or bengal fireworks, although they wore the kits (only) of the home team. There is a new camera that is called ‚pitch side‘ which is placed lower and closer towards the pitch than the regular wide cam. It was very difficult to estimate the path of high balls. Therefore, we used wide cam most of the time.
Jon Murphy said, that KONAMI will not overhaul EA for the next few years regarding the atmosphere. However, we think that it is way better than last year. For instance, the pre game sequence is completely reworked. You can not only see the two teams but the fourth referee that is coming from behind the teams, the coaches and the three main referees. Then the bunch leaves the catacombs. As you can see in the trailer and on the screen shot, there are animated camera teams and photographers. In addition, when playing with national teams, the national flags are held by four volunteers each. Of course, those things are no game changers but guarantee a nice atmosphere.
Especially the match atmosphere itself is stunning. No more two-dimensional, static pictures of stewards. Everything is three dimensional and animated. Stewards are turning towards the pitch, some men in black suites are walking around the field and cameras are trying to follow the players‘ movements. The highlight are the animated coaches, though. They move in their coaching area, direct the players, clap in their hands or shout instructions onto the field. Brilliant.
Switching between players is one of the best improvements so far. It worked pretty well in the matches we played, resulting in many opportunities to intercept the ball or rearrange some defenders. With the new system you have more time to control and position the player because in PES 2011, the cursor only changed as soon as the ball was next to the player.
KONAMI have simplified and completely reworked the penalties. The camera is back behind the players, finally. Taking a penalty is as easy as pie: you choose the direction with the left analogue stick at first. Then you press and hold the shoot button and let it go as soon as the power bar below the player is as filled as you want it to be. Player stats are more important than ever. A player with high stats will only hit the cross bar when the power bar is completely filled, whereas an average player’s shot will go wide. This system really works and is fun.
Ball physics are impressive, they are the most realistic ball physics in a PES game ever. However, they are only that good with passes, crosses and high balls as well as screamers. Curled shots or shots around the 18 yards box seem to fly in slow motion (around 80 or 90% speed) through the box, as does the keeper, who seems to move through thick air. That’s unnecessary and has to be fixed for the perfect ball experience.
– You can change pass support which is split into five sections, starting from 0 to 4. Support level 3 allows for many successful actions. Dropping the support to 0 punishes every mistimed pass but enables complete freedom.
– You still can use the D-Pad, there is an option where you can switch between the D-Pad and the analogue stick.
– Kick off has to be executed manually, again.
The AI is the step forward we were promised (and hoping for). The new system is called „Active AI“. Especially while playing versus the COM the new system really starts to shine. Your team is acting cleverer as well. The Japanese development team focussed on this aspect of the game for a reason and their hard work pays off. We’re going to describe a few situations that highlight the changes of the AI in the game:
– Freekicks: The AI doesn’t blast the ball desperately over the goal anymore, they cross the ball intelligently into the 18 yards box. Those crosses are much more effective and pay off. In PES 2011, those free kicks all too often went wide, missing friend and foe. Free kicks we caused by mistiming tackles always were effective and dangerous.
• Attacking AI: All offensive moves of the AI are much more individual and varied. Here are a few examples for their moves:
-> The AI is attacking with wingers more often. If an attacker sees a weak spot at the side line, he will cut into the 18 yards area. In last year’s installment, he would have crossed the ball all the time.
-> The AI is always looking for the best opportunity to score. In PES 2011, they fired their shots from every position, no matter how sharp the angle was. Now the ball is passed back in behind the defensive line, where another player comes running and slots home easily. However, if a striker has enough space, about 20-25 yards before the goal, he’ll unleash a screamer.
-> The AI uses more high passes into the path of the strikers and sends players more often than last year.
-> Conclusion: The attacks vary and are difficult to defend. This variety in gameplay is especially welcome for offline modes and will boost the fun immensely.
• Defending AI: The AI acts as a team and work hard together to stop danger. They hand over opposing players to better positioned team mates and adapt their behaviour to the particular players. Christiano Ronaldo is defended against much tighter than a „regular“ player. They attack the striker even before he controls the ball and they’ll fall back if the ball is crossed to the opposing side. It really looks and feels more professional.
• Your team mates: A common problem in PES 2011 is the fact that players stop their run after they have passed the ball. You can force players to continue to run with the one-two pass, though. But that’s it. In this years version you have much more opportunities, as players are running on their own, without stopping or even walking back. Combine this with sprints of other strikers into gaps in the defense or with players creating space by drawing defenders away, and you have a whole bunch of opportunities to shape your game. If the paths of players are fine tuned a bit, this will be a huge step forward.
• Difficulty: We could only play on „Professional“ when we had time with the game. In PES 2011, it was no real challenge to control and defeat your opponent on „Top Player“, at least for us. However, today we struggled to defeat Ghana with Germany. Maybe we have to get used to the new individuality and the freedom of the game but the second highest level of difficulty will challenge even experienced players when they play against a team of a similar strength.
Off the ball control:
The big innovation that we announced is the „Off-the-ball control“. The right analogue stick is dedicated to this feature, and you can do beautiful things with it. The following examples will give a summary of this new system:
• Switching players with the right stick: Alongside the L1 trigger, you can now switch players with the right stick. This is more precise and avoids mistakes when selecting players. But using L1 for the last couple of years, this variant needs getting used to. Hence, we used L1 most of the time. If you play with completely manual player switching, you can, when you’re attacking, switch to another striker and dart into a gap in the defense, waving your hand to call for the ball (as you can do in BaL). That’s nothing new, basically, as you could already do this in PES 2011. However, using the right analogue stick lets you instantly switch to the player you want to select, without mashing L1 ten times.
• Off-the-ball in dead ball situations: In dead ball situations, this feature really starts to shine. You can shape these situations more distinct than ever. At first, your player is positioned behind the ball as you know it from last year’s game. As soon as you flick the right analogue stick, the camera angle changes and you can now select a specific player (most probably the one you want to use 😉 ) and move him around with the left stick. So you can set up opportunities to send your player, to feint or to dart into free space, even before the ball is played. It works like a charm and makes your play incalculable.
Here are some examples:
–> At a corner kick I select the player at the near post and move him towards the player at the corner. The defender follows suit because he expects a pass instead of a cross. Now I switch players again and select the one at the penatly spot and run towards the near post. While the player is running, I press the circle button to cross the ball. The player’s path towards the post – and the now vacant space – matches the cross and the striker hits the crossbar with a massive header. Unlucky, maybe I’ll score next time.
–> Long free kick from about 38 yards. Again, I’m spoilt for choice. I could run with a player towards a post and volley the ball at the penalty spot. I could feint a run into the middle and then turn towards the flank, bringing the high free kick under control and cross it into the box, as well.
–> Throw-in: You now have more options for throw-ins as well because you can select the player you want. You can break away from the opponent, resulting in throw-ins that are harder to defend. Furthermore, you can throw the ball into the path of your team mate.
–> Goal kick: Even here the right stick enables you to select the player where you want to play the ball to. Gone are the times, when your opponent intercepted your kick off all the time.
–> Conclusion: The success of those situations depends on timing and the paths you run with the players. If you mistime the pass/cross or you play the ball predictably, the defenders will catch the ball. Furthermore, the abilities of the players that take the free kick/corner kick are very important to play the ball as exactly as you want to. It’s an immense enrichment for all dead ball situations and lets you create dangerous situations and suprise your opponent, without being overwhelmingly effective. The only let-down is the fact that we could not play a long (low) pass in the path of a player past the wall (triangle button).
• Personal data enables players to save player profiles. You can store information about the cursor settings, pad configuration, an avatar and trick stick settings in your profile which you can use for both online and offline matches.
• There is no information about Football Life but it will be related to Master League and Become a Legend. KONAMI will release some information in the coming weeks, for sure.
• Players are still transported on the pitch after a short dissolve at a free kick or a throw-in as you know it from previous PES games. We would love continuous play to be implemented completely so that no more dissolves and teleports are required.
The feeling on the pitch is incredible, it’s smooth and instant. Finally, you feel back on the pitch, your commands are executed immediately and mostly everything feels consistent. If nothing goes horribly wrong, no more new bugs are introduced and nothing is overpowered, this will be the best installment on next-gen consoles. If KONAMI fix the bugs we mentioned above, PES 2012 will be a worthy successor of the legendary PES 6. It breaks my heart to let the PES 2012 disc slip away. When you’ve seen the potential of the future PES, you just can’t be content with a game that looks flawed compared to this alpha version. You should definitely look forward to this year’s fall. – More about PES 2012 coming soon.
mrbasket for prorevo, July 2011
One more time a massive thanks to Ben for the translation!