Pro Evolution Soccer 2012 Hands-On Preview

We find out how PES 12's new AI improvements and off-the-ball controls feel out on the pitch.

At this year's Electronic Entertainment Expo, Konami unveiled Pro Evolution Soccer 2012's new feature set, promising--among other things--improved animation; AI updates for more realistic player positioning; and tighter, more accurate controls. Last year saw PES catching up with its archrival FIFA but not surpassing it--at least in terms of critical reception. Is this year's string of updates enough to see PES to glory or is it destined for a humiliating relegation?

Before you jump into a match, PES asks you to create a player that you can make as realistic or as horrifying as you like. There are lots of customization options, ranging from your player's body and facial characteristics to his kit color and poses. Such is the wealth of options that it's all too easy to create some horrific-looking players. There's a simple pleasure to be found in seeing a big-eared guy with a perm, blue goatee, and a bright pink strip run around the pitch, even if your opponents might not agree. On the more serious side of things, you also have the option of adjusting the level of pass support; that is, the degree to which passes automatically home onto receiving players. This is a welcome addition, particularly given how tricky the new passing system was in PES 11. Tweaking extends to the AI too, so you can specify if it should automatically pass, shoot, or clear the ball when you're not in direct control.

With customization done, you move onto Training Challenge; a mode that carries over from PES 11 with a few tweaks. There are trophies awarded for each training challenge you complete--bronze, silver, or gold--depending on your performance. For example, one challenge has you taking penalties, with the goal divided up into three sections that are worth a different number of points. The more points you score, the better the trophy you receive. Each challenge is divided up into difficulty levels, ranging from one to three stars. This means there's a lot to play through, so if you're the type of person that has to complete everything, expect to spend a lot of time in Training Challenge.

"What do you mean, FIFA sold more?!"

Most of the changes in PES 12 have been made to AI players on the pitch, via improvements to make their actions seem more realistic. The first is AI overlap, which is designed to improve the performance of players off the ball, so long as you've enabled AI assists. As we played the ball to an open area of the pitch, we noticed players running forward to receive it, making intelligent runs that allowed us to set up chances on goal. If you choose not to enable AI assists, you're given greater control of players off the ball, allowing you to control two players simultaneously. Doing so is a little fiddly, though, requiring you to highlight another player by pointing the right stick in his direction and pressing down on it to select him.

While this feature can be very tricky to use out on the open field, it really comes into its own during set pieces, such as corners and free kicks. While lining up a corner, we could move another player in the box at the same time, making use of space and ensuring someone was on the receiving end of the ball. Further enhancements have been made to penalties, which are now much simpler to take. One button controls the height and power of the kick, while another controls the direction. By holding down R1, we could perform finesse finishes, such as chips, which is something that would have required well-timed double-taps of the analog stick in PES 11. Also gone is the side-on penalty view that has now been replaced by a more traditional viewpoint in front of the goal.

Various enhancements to dummy and diagonal runs made our time on the pitch more enjoyable, with our AI teammates drawing out defenders and running across the field rather than just down one side of it. We noticed our defense was tighter too, with players marking the opposition, automatically chasing opponents down and launching tackles. This extended to our team's formation. Players maintained position, allowing us to make better judgments and defend our half of the pitch with more confidence. Combined, the AI improvements made each match more enjoyable, with fewer goals conceded from frustrating AI mistakes.

The teams line up for the traditional pre-match River Dance.

While this year's updates aren't entirely revolutionary, they build upon the substantial improvements introduced in PES 11. Matches were smooth, exciting, a lot of fun, and felt noticeably faster than those in FIFA. It remains to be seen whether PES can catch up with FIFA's excellent online features, but we were left suitably impressed, making this year's battle between the two football games that little bit closer. Pro Evolution Soccer 2012 is due for release on the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and PC on October 14. Look out for more coverage on GameSpot soon.

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Discussion

64 comments
TheGreatOldOne
TheGreatOldOne

PES is different. I reckon FIFA is more reaslistic but PES is fun too. If only goalkeepers played with a semblance of AI, which is a shame because the improvements in 2012 are noteworthy.

voidhawk2000
voidhawk2000

I see the Fifa fanboy idiots are already here trying to say how great that attempted excuse of a football sim is... saw the gameplay footage of FIFA 12 - as usual looks pretty - but that's about it... PES rocks...'nuff said...

tisoyboy2
tisoyboy2

PES 2012 demo is a lot of fun and fast paced. But the visuals in the demo were really bad. Not a big deal since its a sports game and I care more about how the game plays.

kvortka
kvortka

@ Dominic_18 If you're scoring every couple of minutes in FIFA 11, then you need to put the difficulty on World Class or Legendary. Of course it's gonna be easy to score goals on Amateur level.

CucHulk
CucHulk

Huge fan of PES and looking forward to get this game :) Just hope that this time isn't as identical as the previous games.

khafan_9817
khafan_9817

Unlike the PES2011 , PES2012 has changed very well and improved in many aspects, when I play the demo of PES2012 , I feel a realy good and hard game to win. I am waiting for the game badly!

nickz_fpk
nickz_fpk

@978636_ Lol have you played Fifa every year since 08 if so please tell me whats so great and realistic about the gameplay I suggest you google 'The Enemies of Fifa' for a complete breakdown on Fifa 11 gameplay. Anyway i've played the PES 2012 demo and the gameplay blows Fifa's gameplay out the water, I can't be bothered to go into to depth but it's on the PS Store now if you want to play it. PES 2012 is becoming more of a sim and attracting the hardcore while Fifa is becoming more like an arcade game and is attracting the casual user.

978636_
978636_

@johnnybrac Hey u wanna live??Then dont go for PES....I went 4 it last year.....now I am so angry with dat decision!!

978636_
978636_

@Dominic_18 Dude FIFA sells more has more fans and is better than PES.......and saying u were able to score goals every couple minutes....there is something known as the difficulty system......u increase it and try playing it.....they will be scoring every couple mins :P

978636_
978636_

@nickz_fpk Dude u must have lost it....thinking that FIFA is gonna be beaten by PES in gameplay......In gameplay??Dude that is the place where I believe FIFA is better and PES is nowhere near....I have personally played its(PES 12) demo and I am not at all impressed!

SkySage7
SkySage7

Did Konami say anything about the number of leagues and teams they're gonna add into the game? And will the player be able to create lots of custom players, teams and leagues? PES 2011 was great but it gets boring after a while because there are only 6 league ladders you can play in. I seriously hope we'll get more this year... or at least have the option to add them ourselves.

Claudiov1_0
Claudiov1_0

Just played the demo, the AI is amazing, the passing is crisp and precise, and everything is very smooth, the game's graphics are also substantially improved(in details, like sweat, and with referees chatting before the game and every single animation according to the flow of the game)... i was very impresses, since the demo is already much better than pes 2011

nickz_fpk
nickz_fpk

PES 2012 looks like it set to blow Fifa 12 out of the water obviously not commercially but in terms of gameplay & game modes it's defintely looking better than Fifa. Oh yeah and the demo is out next week.

adam6_mvp
adam6_mvp

PES2012 is way better than fifa 2012

alireza125
alireza125

just fifa12. it is a revolution. pes is not a good rival anymore.

wars45
wars45

want it now pes12 cant wait

icestorm2zh
icestorm2zh

for every one who says fifa better than pes i tell u keep dreaming pes can kick fifa a.. since ps1 and it's keep geting better and better

DL_gamer
DL_gamer

Konami should focus on some points PES 2011 failed like Online Gameplay and AI. Other than that I think PES is doing good.

Optimus_Prime83
Optimus_Prime83

[This message was deleted at the request of a moderator or administrator]

smegheadvii
smegheadvii

XExpli0te3 Posted Aug 13, 2011 3:53 am GMT FIFA- King of Gameplay for Real Soccer fans PES- King of Gameplay for real Soccer gamers Peace's The GAME is FOOTBALL not soccer you muppet and PES is KING

Tatham07
Tatham07

FIFA wipes the floor with PES :)

Dominic_18
Dominic_18

i still wonder how the hell EA sells fifa more than pes ? i mean what the....and worse than that people actually love fifa ? i mean come on i played fifa and i kept scoring every couple minutes i even can close my eyes and score so according to me FIFA = for lil kiddo's , PES = rocks

lib4m
lib4m

isnt this 'new' off the ball control implemented in fifa 2004/5/6 or something? it seemed cool at first, but had issues with the balance of the play, making it too easy to play through balls etc, maybe this system will be better idk, was a pes fan from pes4-2008, but since fifa9, fifa has been the superior game in my opinion

howardorr
howardorr

I desperately want PES to regain its PS2 glory, but I think it has a lot of ground to make up on FIFA. I still think that given football's massive popularity there isn't a game at the moment that really does the sport justice, or even comes close to it.

voidrummer
voidrummer

Love the level of control in Pes

XExpli0te3
XExpli0te3

FIFA- King of Gameplay for Real Soccer fans PES- King of Gameplay for real Soccer gamers Peace's

k_h_a_n
k_h_a_n

FIFA - KING OF GAMEPLAY PES - KING OF GAME CONTENT

MAZRUINESS
MAZRUINESS

Since i started playing games , I've always been a fan of fifa until i played P.E.S 2011

Glejs
Glejs

Can't wait for it! FIFA might be fun for a few weeks or so but this baby's gonna get deep under your skin..

amazon09
amazon09

i will skip this PES, looks like it is similar to pes 2011, hugely disappointed, i was 3rd ranking in pes 2010 online but since 2011 i never play PES again, hate its angle, i will buy fifa 12 :)

hooleeahn
hooleeahn

PES is not better than FIFA, FIFA is not better than PES, they are just different, it depends on what kind of game u like.....You always will find people saying that one is better than the other no matter what improvements EA and Konami make

mrkickme
mrkickme

Im going to be a bit happier when I get this!!

figo76
figo76

I have been a PES player since Int Superstar Soccer on the N64 and over the years I have had a dabble with the dark side (Fifa) but it just doesn't come close. Fifa is sluggish - fact and is unrealistic. Looking forward to PES 2012 - Whoop Whoop!

johnners2981
johnners2981

@OmenUK easier for novices to play but far harder to master than fifa. I'm pretty good at both games and pes wins hands down just wish konami would fix the many annoyances in the game

Raymus79
Raymus79

dribbling on Pro Evo is so much more fun than FIFA. If FIFA 12 sorts this out I will convert but until then Pro Evo still wins....Pro Evo is the Tekkerslovakia of Football games

johnnybrac
johnnybrac

Looking forward for it. Never played PES before but sure will try this one.

wars45
wars45

yer online has inproved a lot and master league online was mint sayin that had some good game online with mates have allways been a pes fan the last few have been crap but last years was a big inprovement this year is the 1st time in years .that i cant wait till pes12 comes out been told by some 1 whos play tested it .said pes reminds him of the glory days of ps2 hope this is true

BUNTARG
BUNTARG

Personally ive always gone for PES, but have at least played on FIFA when a friend has bought it down the years. So from my experience FIFA does feel slow and you never feel like you can just go on a mazy run. Granted FIFA does have far greater depth as far as Leagues, Teams and Players go. And there is something inherently fun for me about taking a much lower division team and gradually making your way to the 'top flight'. With all that said i think i'll still end up being a PES man this season.

matom
matom

pes should really concentrate on the movements of the players when on the ball because in pes 11 the movements were too robotic unlike fifa.n where is the curling shot from open play?last time when you press r2 the ball will curl but in pes 11 the ball will go powerless when you press r2 and doesnt curl at all.get the premier league license as well.then pes will be able to compete with FIFA

nyran125
nyran125

good luck PES..... i hope you get back on track. But FIFA 11 was the better game last year not just because of licenses. PES 2011 was still a little too awkward. FIFA 11 is TOO user friendly and you can be way to precise for it to be realistic. But PES is too far away from that to feel realistic and is clunky as hell. Marry the 2 and youve got a magic football game. Sometimes PES DOES LOOK more realistic and other times FIFA looks more realistic.

slimskelter
slimskelter

Make sure you delete any Sith players......

caliboo
caliboo

for all the soccer lovers out there this is the game to get

alfkb24
alfkb24

I think licenses are important! they give you that feeling that you are actually managing a real soccer team but that's nothing with a lame career mode and a kind of dull gameplay (like in fifa 11, not all the time but you know it's true) both game diserve a chance but it depends on the game experience you're looking for! I'm getting both games, then I will decide which one will be the chosen one I'll be playing for a year. Dont let previews or reviews wash your brains, play both and then YOU decide! I want both games to be hot... that means more quality options, dont you agree???

Phaselinear
Phaselinear

Make sure you delete any American players.....

DL_gamer
DL_gamer

All I hope is that they solve the Online Cheater's problem. Pes2011 Online mode is unplayable anymore because of that. Players just won't accept defeat and cancel the game results, that's a shame for Konami that doesn't give a **** for the gamer's complains.

chechak7
chechak7

ok want me to buy this new pes 2012 ,why because angry players showd there VEINS ....