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Pro Evolution Soccer 2011

Score: 85%
ESRB: Everyone
Publisher: Konami
Developer: Winning Eleven Productions
Media: DVD/1
Players: 1 - 4; 2 - 8 (Online)
Genre: Sports (Soccer)/ Simulation/ Online

Graphics & Sound:

If I've learned anything from my time spent reviewing Pro Evolution Soccer 2011, it's that it's difficult to go up against FIFA. On its own, PES 2011 is a great game of soccer that looks good and plays well. Put it next to its Electronic Arts-developed cousin, and things don't look as good. That's not so much to PES 2011 discredit as it is to FIFA Soccer 2011's credit. If you're looking for the best football game on the shelves, this isn't it. However, if it's a great time on the pitch you're looking for, this one will certainly do the job.

PES 2011 is a mixed bag when it comes to presentation. From an aesthetic standpoint, I'd say that the game occasionally looks more realistic than FIFA, but that's only before the framerate hitches up. Still, it won't ever hitch up long enough for you to get worried or frustrated. The players themselves look great and are well-animated. Also worthy of mention are the presentation and menu systems, which are clean, unobtrusive, and easy on the eyes.

PES 2011 doesn't boast the memorable and eclectic international soundtrack of FIFA, but what's here is enjoyable and doesn't at all sound out of place. Jon Champion and Jim Beglin do an admirable job of keeping up with the on-screen action, but once you've played your tenth match, they will start sounding like broken records. I realize at this point that I don't really have anything to say about the sound effects; they will match your expectations. No more, no less.


As I said, Konami is playing a dangerous game by going up against FIFA. What makes EA's soccer franchise such a juggernaut is the sheer variety of play modes. There are so many that it's literally mind-boggling. Pro Evolution Soccer 2011 features fewer modes of play, and none of them are really all that innovative. As long as the soccer itself is fun, that's not too much of a problem. Thankfully, PES 2011 plays very well.

Master League and Become a Legend compose the backbone of the PES 2011 experience, and they are similar in both structure and content to some of FIFA's core offerings. You can build and manage a squad, or you can choose to take a player from relative zero to international hero. I was overwhelmed with the level of complexity, but not as I was with FIFA. Then again, I'm not a fan of micromanagement when it comes to any kind of game. If you are a fan of this kind of personalization, PES 2011 just might offer your kind of simulation.


Compared to FIFA Soccer 2011, Pro Evolution Soccer 2011 is a bit on the strict side when it comes to the referees. I often found myself beelining for an attacker in order to make what I judged as a well-timed and properly judged challenge -- only to be charged with tripping. In FIFA 11, this only happened when the tackle was ill-timed and obviously the result of poor judgment. The referees of PES 2011 don't put up with much. As a result, I found myself applying less pressure when on defense, and only getting aggressive when there was obviously no chance of fouling. This, in turn, resulted in less overall enthusiasm on my part. However, I respect this design decision, as it encourages tactical thinking over recklessness.

I'm pretty terrible at most sports games in general. For me, it's refreshing to see a game go to such great lengths to make you feel like you're doing something exactly right, even if you could be doing so much better. When you're on offense, the players you pass to are always keenly aware of your intentions; just about every through pass was read properly and received smoothly. This kind of difficulty design allows a good bit of freedom on the part of the player; that is always a key factor when it comes to newbies. Be warned: on the lowest difficulty settings, the opponent A.I. is capable of doing some catastrophically stupid things. I'm talking career-ending blunders. For example, one of my shots ricocheted upwards after bouncing off a goal post, but the ball remained in play. The defender dove forward and scored an own goal that looked deliberate.

Game Mechanics:

A large part of Pro Evolution Soccer 2011's learning curve lies here. Like in this year's FIFA, you must learn how to manage a power bar that affects both shooting and passing. Though it may not seem like it at first, you've got near-complete control over where the ball goes when you're in possession. Regardless of your skill level, it may take some time to get used to the system. What may at first seem to be the perfect cross may end up delivering the ball to a defender, and that perfect through pass might scream past its intended recipient -- all the way to the waiting hands of the goalkeeper. However, learning the nuances of this system is satisfying and rewarding. Just when you think you've got it figured out, you'll discover a whole new layer of tweaking opportunities. When utilized properly, these added controls make each action your very own. You'll eventually be doing things you'd never thought possible if you spend enough time practicing.

Though it isn't your best option, Pro Evolution Soccer 2011 deserves attention and respect for taking such a solid shot at the top. It doesn't quite get there, but not for the reasons most gamers would expect. There's no getting around it: there just isn't as much content here as there is in EA's superior alternative. However, PES 2011 is highly-polished and well-made enough to earn it an easy recommendation from me.

-FenixDown, GameVortex Communications
AKA Jon Carlos

Related Links:

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