Good for a few kicks.
Pro Evolution Soccer has always played second-fiddle to FIFA in terms of sales, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t as good of a game. In fact, die-hard soccer fans have generally preferred Konami’s offering, applauding its deep, realistic gameplay over FIFA’s more accessible take on the sport. With Pro Evolution Soccer 2011 3D, Konami goes into the 3DS launch with guns blazing and brings a fully-featured version of their hit franchise that, if not for a few minor setbacks, would be able to go toe-to-toe with the console versions.
[image1]It’s almost shocking how good the game looks when it’s first booted up. The characters are all incredibly detailed, with fantastic textures that look nearly as good as the releases on current-generation consoles. Realistically, they’re closer to the PlayStation 2 era, but the screen’s lower resolution works in the game’s favor, and it ends up looking spectacular for a handheld game. The 3D effect, too, helps the presentation, with each of the players popping off the field and adding some incredible depth.
This wouldn’t be important if the gameplay wasn’t strong, which as is usually the case with PES, it is. Soccer games live and die by ball physics, an area in which PES is exceptional. It feels like a physical object, rolling realistically across the field as the players – whom also feel very tangible – slide, kick, and chase after it. It’s not very accessible at first to those who haven’t played the series in the past, and there’s definitely a learning curve that has to be overcome, but playing is smooth and the controls are incredibly tight.
Not all is perfect, however, and there are some areas Konami can attempt to improve with future releases. That same low-resolution screen that helps the visual presentation ends up feeling claustrophobic at first. While the screen is large enough for most games, the sheer size of the soccer field makes it difficult to really see what’s going on at any time. Before long, I found myself testing different camera angles to find who I was passing to, but even after I’d found a more comfortable option, I felt as though I was still missing some of the action. It’s not really all that bothersome after a while, but it’s definitely jarring at first, especially when it’s an issue the console versions have never had to struggle with.
[image2]On top of that, multiplayer is limited to local play. It’s likely not the fault of Konami—none of the 3DS launch games have online multiplayer, and it’s likely an issue on Nintendo’s side, not the developers—but it’s still an issue. There are some interesting StreetPass options, but the odds of anyone getting any practical use out of them are low, and it hardly makes up for the lack of true multiplayer integration.
It’s slow. It’s low scoring. And it’s difficult to pick up. In that, it’s likely a soccer fan’s dream. Those well-versed in the console version might feel conflicted with the 3DS release; it’s definitely not going to be as responsive as the PS3 and 360 iterations, and while it’s packed with all of the features it technically needs, it’s still missing some that fans might look for. But when it’s looked at for what it is—a handheld launch title—the game is simply wonderful, and there’s no doubt that future releases will clean up some of the issues and (hopefully) add better multiplayer, turning the 3DS version of PES into a real contender for the cup