PES at last back on form

User Rating: 9 | Pro Evolution Soccer 2011 X360
I've played every single Pro Evo game, right from ISS Deluxe on the SNES, and every year I submit my annual review of the game on release day. I've spent more time playing the series than any other game I've ever played. But over the past few releases my overly biased feeling towards Pro Evo had started to wane, most of my friends moved over to Fifa when 09 was released but I had managed to resist temptation and stay true to my beloved Pro Evo. I played a bit of Fifa 10, and I have to admit I was impressed, certainly the gameplay was more fluid, but I found I only ever scored 2 or 3 types of goals and soon got bored. I then played Fifa World Cup and felt worried for the future of Pro Evo, I started feeling as though my preference was switching alliance. I got Fifa 11 on release day and yet again I was impressed with the game, and immediately started a career...which I've completed 1 season....and I'm already bored of. See that's the problem with Fifa games, all my build up felt the same, and each of my goals felt very similar. I also felt as though I was cheating on my long term love, even though Pro Evo has treated me badly in the recent past...I still love her! So on release day I went knocking with my tail between my legs and asked Pro Evo if she'd take me back. I explained that I was sorry I had been messing around with her rival, and if she took me back I'd promise I would treat her better. Boy am I glad I did, this years release has seen a major shake up in the gameplay and stands it in good stead for the future. The new passing system is a huge improvement, and allows for slick, fluid moves to be unleashed on your opposition. I no longer feel as though I've been cheated out of possession by a wayward pass, if a pass goes astray it's because I've put too much power on or pressed in slightly in the wrong direction. The new system took about 5-10 games on top player to become fully adjusted, and I'm very happy with this improvement. Another improvement is the 1000+ new animations, which help the game feel a lot more realistic, from turns to shoulder barging it all help with the realism. The shooting has been tinkered with also, I always loved the fact I could hammer one in from 35 yards on previous games, and at first I thought they had broken the shooting system....they haven't it's just a bit more sensitive and requires more skill to pull off, therefore more satisfying. The whole time I played Fifa I'd say less than 2% of my goals were from outside the area(and it wasn't from a lack of trying) which I found disappointing. My first goal on Pro Evo 2011 was a full volly from 25 yards that nestled in the bottom corner, and rolled around the back of the net in realistic fashion. Crossing feels great also, the ball really looks as though it's whipped in and the way the camera moves in the new broadcast style really helps give it a realistic feel. Pro Evo's graphics have always been a strong point, and it was never in doubt that this title would provide the same. I felt last year they had spent too much time getting player likenesses spot on and the gameplay had suffered, but it has paid off in the long run as now the game has good graphics, and gameplay to match . The game is presented in an aesthetically pleasing way and features a good soundtrack with typical 'Pro Evo' sounding songs. I'm not fussed that there aren't many new features because I spend most of my time playing Master League anyway, and now this feature is now available to play on line so happy days. A lot of people complain about the lack of licensing in the game, the simple solution is to quickly edit the teams you regularly play with (it only takes a couple of hours to edit the names of teams, and change their kits to resemble real life kits). The editing tools are excellent, and it shows it's a useful tool as this years Fifa has included it in their release(although it's nothing on pro evo's system). Also Pro Evo has the prestigious Champions League licence, the Europa league, Super Cup and the Copa Libertadores...plenty to get your teeth into. The only slight gripe I have about the game is the way the player names/energy bar/power bar are all surrounding the player, sure some may feel it looks nice. I would prefer it to be where its always been, at the bottom of the screen, and so far I haven't been able to find an option to change this. But hey-ho only a small niggle. Overall the game is a massive improvement on the last few years attempts, hopefully it may be enough to pull back a few of the old Pro Evo fan boys that have switched to Fifa. I know I am going to spend many hours playing this years game and I look forward to doing so. Well done Konami for addressing most of the issues that have hampered these titles in the past.