Tags: AI , E3 , first impressions , goalkeepers , graphics , improvements , konami , pes 2012 , shooting
The embargo has been lifted, so the initial thoughts of Asim Tanvir have now been made available to the public.
In case you didn't know, Asim got to play the latest code of PES 2012 at E3, so is very in the know with the next installment of the Pro Evolution Soccer series.
Read on and see what Asim thinks of PES 2012.
Often the difference between a good football game and bad one, you’ll be glad to know that the shot stoppers in the E3 build of PES 2012 are rather good.
During my time with the game, which consisted of six matches (set at 10 minutes), I only encountered one genuine mistake. Now, I don’t know about you, but I think that is an impressive ratio for a football game that is still in development.
If you were to compare the goalkeepers in the E3 builds of PES 2011 and PES 2012, the latter would be vastly superior in every single aspect. That includes animations (more on those later), realism and reliability.
For instance, in my second match (I was playing as Spain), Iker Casillas made a superb double save which you would struggle to come across in the retail version of PES 2011 let alone the E3 build. The fact that he reacted so promptly to the rebound after his first save, is what made the entire scenario so impressive. The Spaniard didn’t get up and then stand around like a zombie admiring Pique’s beard for a couple of seconds; he got up as soon as realistically possible and made the second save.
One area where the virtual shop stoppers could use a little work is one-on-ones, but that is just me nitpicking. Standout moments like the one mentioned above combined with the general reliability, even at this early stage, provide enough evidence to suggest that the goalkeepers in PES 2012 could be the best in the series to date.
Passing and Shooting
The passing and shooting systems in PES 2012 are pretty much exactly the same as PES 2011. However, there are a couple of new additions which influence these particular facets of the game ever so slightly. Thankfully, both additions have a positive effect.
First up, you have the tweaked ball physics which provide a much more realistic feel to the overall passing and shooting. It’s extremely hard to describe the exact effect, but don’t be surprised to see the ball occasionally bobble across the turf after a poorly hit pass or shot.
Secondly, in a move that is sure to delight the hardcore football gamers, Konami have finally included an option which allows players to adjust the level of support they get with their passes. The option, known as Pass Support, throws five different settings at your disposal. By default the Pass Support settings are set to three bars, meaning you have some control over the weight, direction and speed of your passes. If you want full control over everything, you just need to adjust the settings accordingly.
The fully manual passing system takes a while to get used to as you’d expect, but if you can get to grips with its intricacies, you can really pull off some wonderful passing moves. Think of it like getting used to the new passing system back in PES 2011 and you’ll get some idea of the learning curve.
Unfortunately, the fully manual settings have only found their way to the passing system at the moment and do not apply to the shooting system is PES 2012. With a while to go until the game is released, there is a possibility that Konami could announce fully manual shooting at a later date, but it is more than likely that particular feature will not make the cut in PES 2012.
Good news, the penalty system in PES 2012 is nothing like the one in PES 2011. Gone is the system that only Einstein could understand and back is the more traditional penalty system seen in PES games of the past. It might not be the best penalty system ever, but it works well and is dead easy to get to grips with.
Right, with that out of the way, let’s move onto the best new feature in PES 2012. I am, of course, referring to off the ball control during free kicks, corner kicks, goal kicks and throw-ins. It’s a feature which you will forget to use during your first few matches in PES 2012, but when you eventually do, you will wonder how you did without it.
Just received a free kick in a dangerous area on the wing and want to knock the ball into your star striker so he can try and score?! Flick the right stick in the direction of your star striker’s position and he will be highlighted. You can then move him around to a position you like, press the cross button and whip the ball in. He might not score, but you have certainly given him a better opportunity to do so. It’s incredible, it really is. It’s also very intuitive and easy to understand, meaning players of all skill levels can give it a go.
During my time with the game, I actually managed to use this new feature to score a goal via a corner kick. It felt genuinely rewarding and satisfying, just like scoring a goal should. It was all my work; I didn’t need to rely on anything or anyone else.
Artificial Intelligence (AI)
Even the most ardent PES fan would admit that player AI in PES 2011 wasn’t perfect. For every great moment, there was almost always a silly one on the horizon to counter it. Well, it seems like Konami have taken on board the feedback in regards to AI and, I must say, the results are very impressive.
First of all, AI players on your team will now actively make realistic overlapping runs. Think Patrice Evra for Manchester United or Dani Alves for Barcelona and you’ll get what I mean. In fact, I played as Barcelona and just as he does in real life, Dani Alves was bombing forward at every single opportunity. Not just like a headless chicken either, the runs he was making were intelligent and, more importantly, realistic. You know that long ball Xavi and Iniesta love to play to Dani Alves, it’s possible to replicate that in PES 2012 (if you’re good enough) with a stunning degree of accuracy.
The intelligent running doesn’t just apply to the full-backs either; it applies to pretty much every single attack minded player on your team. Midfielders will make dummy runs to create space and they won’t just run in straight lines either. They will make intelligent diagonal runs as well, something which was very rarely seen in PES 2011. Of course, it’s up to you to decide how you want to utilise these runs and which player you want to pass to. Do you let a dummy run be just that or do you pull a fast one and try to get that player through for a scoring opportunity? The decision is yours, but the fact that you have all these options at your disposal is just mind boggling.
Konami have also paid some attention the defensive AI in PES 2012 as well. The defensive AI in PES 2011 was quite good, but at times players has the tendency to bunch up which hurt the overall gameplay and, well, didn’t reflect the overall realistic nature of the game very well. Those days have now gone, as defenders and (to a certain extent), midfielders perform their non-attacking duties with a high level of realism.
For instance, if you have a 4-4-2 formation, your team (depending on your strategy/tactics) will consist of two banks of four and the defensive movement of the players (defenders and midfielders) will be much more realistic when compared to PES 2011. Defenders won’t just follow and track one player, if they sense danger in a nearby area they will swoop in to try and cover. It’s all very subtle, but changes/improvements to the AI like this will only help enhance the overall quality of the gameplay.
Much like its predecessor, PES 2012 looks great; even at this early stage. Player likenesses are even better than before, kit detail has been upped a level and, most noticeably, the lighting is vastly superior to PES 2011. Oh and square nets are in too, but you knew that already, right?!
Animations have also received some attention, quite a few new ones have been added and the majority of the older ones have been tweaked for added fluidity and realism. These improvements in the animation department shine ever so brightly during gameplay as you glide across the pitch with Messi like a graceful ballerina. Not that Messi is a ballerina, of course!
Finally, PES 2012 might not have a super slick looking collision system underneath its hood, but it doesn’t really need one. This might sound a little crazy, but it has its own little system and it uses it rather well from what I have seen so far. There’s no over the top coming together of players, instead everything just looks natural. Players “bounce” off each other quite realistically, falling or stumbling to the turf without much fuss. It’s not flashy, it’s just simple and, you know what, it works really well.
The foundations for a truly great football game were laid down by Konami with PES 2011. The next game in the series just needed to build on those foundations by adding a few key gameplay elements. From what I have seen so far, if PES 2012 continues to improve at its current rate, there’s a strong possibility we could be graced with the best PES game to date.
"Watch out for a more indepth preview from WENB later today, as well as a quite epic podcast from myself and Suffwan early hours."
Thanks to WENB for the heads up.