We reviewed the previous PES game, the 2011 edition way back in the early part of the year and really liked it, citing its gameplay on a touch screen as its best feature, good enough to forgive a lack of content and multiplayer options.
So, you would hope that this 2012 release will simply add some tweaks to the gameplay, a few new modes and that all important multiplayer component? Well, I have to say I do feel disappointed with this iteration of the franchise, as while it adds a couple of interesting modes the game feels largely untouched, save for a few minor modifications here and there.
The game plays just as well as the last one, with smooth play across large pitches. Through balls, headers and shooting all feel just as natural, and the developer has made sprinting far better, because if you are controlling a decent player, you can now smoothly change direction and stop with a much higher degree of control than before. This is probably the best thing that has been added to the entire game. Stroking the ball around the pitch is still as satisfying as it was, with goals still pretty tricky to score on the higher difficulty settings.
The player A.I seems to be the same, which is to say very good as players still intelligently run off the ball and cover quite well in defence. The graphics have been given a minor face-lift, appearing sharper all round, even in the menus. Still no commentary.
The game features many of the same modes of the last game, so you have Exhibition, league/cup, and the two European leagues to play in. A quick match also puts you in a random match inside of a minute, and there are new Super Challenge and Challenge modes. These are both community based, so for example in the Challenge mode, you can challenge your friends, either from Facebook or other contacts lists to a set of gameplay challenges and compare and compete with the results.
This is the main new addition and it is pretty good, with the game able to branch out beyond itself. If you have a few PES 2012 friends on Facebook, the competition can get really interesting, and the addition of leaderboards here is good. The new free kick mode is a fairly nice time waster.
The massive problem is that those are the only new modes, so if you were waiting for a Master or Career mode you are going to be bitterly disappointed. The same goes for multiplayer. There is no way to play against your friends directly, and it really makes me question why the option has been left out, after all some of the tiniest one man studios working in their spare time have managed to add a simple two player local WiFi options to their Android games. To have it missing from the last release was forgivable, but two years in a row, from one of the biggest game studios in the world? Shameful, especially when the iOS version of this very game has a full multiplayer suite, with both Bluetooth and WiFi play.
The great replay feature remains, and the training mode has been improved but I can’t find any new options when it comes to organising and managing your teams. The fact that you can’t set each players individual behaviour is an annoyance. I may want a player in the middle of the pitch, but I can’t set him to be an attacking or defending midfielder for example, and there is no way to alter the set formations.
The big question has to be, if you bought the first game, is this one worth buying? It gives me no pleasure to say that no, if you already have PES 2011 then I can’t recommend this new game. The new social and free kick modes are a nice addition, but they are the only additions content-wise, so unless you really want to swap scores with your Facebook friends then you will have to give this a miss and either go back to PES 2011, try out Real Football’s wealth of modes or wait for the arrival of FIFA 12.
New players, especially PES fans from other formats should consider this as one of the silkiest playing soccer games available with the best gameplay of any soccer game currently on Android. Anyone in between those two polar opposites I would point to Real Football.
Great gameplay, but a case in point of a developer sitting on its laurels, and when compared with the iOS version a bit of a slap in the face for Android fans. You can pay us more but you will get less.