Pro Evolution Soccer 2011 3D First Impressions

We got a first look at how football plays in 3D with Konami's first PES game for the 3DS.

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One of the big announcements to come out of Nintendo's 3DS event in Amsterdam was Pro Evolution Soccer 2011 3D, a new version of the popular football simulation. By using 3D, developer Konami promises that it will be easier to play, thanks to the tactical advantage of the added depth. Are Konami's bold claims well founded? We went hands-on with the game to find out.

Who's Making It

Pro Evolution Soccer 2011 is being developed by Konami, veterans of the football simulation genre. The developer has been working on the series since the days of the NES, when it was known as Konami Hyper Soccer. The series has long been regarded as one of the finest soccer games on the market, with only longtime rival FIFA offering any real competition. This experience makes the developer well placed to make the first football game for the 3DS and to take advantage of what 3D can bring to the beautiful game.

What It Looks Like

The 3DS version of the game will be familiar to those who have played a version on their console or PC, but it certainly looks better than previous handheld versions. The visuals are smooth, colourful, and detailed, making famous players like Lionel Messi easily recognisable, and making matches easy on the eye. The biggest change comes to the player camera, which now centers on your movement, much like a camera in a third-person shooter. This throws you deep into the action of each match, especially with the addition of the 3D effects.

How It Uses 3D

The combination of a new player camera and 3D makes the new PES game an immersive experience. 3D adds depth, letting you more accurately gauge where your passes are going and where crosses are coming from, while the camera means you're never far from the action. From corners, 3D makes it easier to cross the ball, because you can see the distance of your players in relation to the goal and the opposition. In shooting positions, you can see how far in front of the goal the keeper is, allowing crafty lobs and volleys.

What You Do

In our hands-on with a demo of the game we could play only a quick half-match, but the full game will feature a number of modes. These include the UEFA Champions League option, which lets you play through the league, and a master league, in which you build a team from scratch and attempt to see your team win the trophy. There will also be wireless play, so two 3DS users can face off head-to-head, and the implementation of Street Pass, which lets you compete against other teams using stored team data.

How It Plays

PES plays as well as ever, with the face buttons and analogue stick controlling all of the action. It's easy to control the ball, but there's a noticeable difference using the D pad, which offers less precision. Most PES players will feel right at home, with crossing and shooting power defined by how long you hold down the respective button. There aren't any touch-screen controls to speak of, aside from scrolling through the menus.

What We Say

Sports seems to be one of the genres that benefits most from 3D, with the added depth making it easier to judge distances for precision play. PES has utilised it without resorting to cheesy effects, simply adding depth to the proceedings. While we haven't seen how the league features are going to work yet, our brief hands-on with PES offered pretty much everything we could hope for.

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