PES 2012: What we want to see
14th May 2011 | 14:30
Konami announced its next contribution to match day action earlier this week with Pro Evolution Soccer 2012. An overhaul of the AI engine is seemingly the focus this time around making for a more realistic experience.
While we liked last years attempt in a lot of ways, we ultimately felt that it was making strides in a direction that wasn't what fans of classic PES were really looking for. Words like 'realistic' and 'immersive' are all well and good to an extent, but ultimately don't flag up the strengths of the series for us.
At this point, we firmly believe that FIFA is headers and volleys above the rest when it comes to on the pitch action but PES still has a place on the pitch as long as it realises the best way in which to counter attack.
Here are the things we want to hear in the next Konami team talk that'll make us run to the shops inspired come release day.
We don't know about you but when we're playing PES with mates the first thing we do is turn the sound right down. We just can't stand the standard of punditry smeared over the beautiful game and that's a criticism which, unfortunately, we've fired without remorse all the way through the series.
Granted there are some culprits who are worse than others (we're looking at you Lawro) but by and large the men behind the mic in Pro Evo, from Brooking to Beglin, have been shocking.
FIFA has had this nailed for years (if you'll excuse repeated phrases after a significant amount of hours) with natural, flowing, anecdotal conversation between the two commentators that sounds incredibly authentic.
At its best the PES commentary has sounded flat and out of place, at worst its sounded like Mark Lawrenson is auditioning to play the part of himself in a spoof film about his own life.
We don't know exactly what technique EA Sports uses to get the most out of whatever commentary team it's using (they can't be the best of actors) but whatever the key is Konami needs to work it out this time around since punditry is such a crucial part of the televised football experience. At the moment the PES match day experience is suffering.
The other aspect of Pro Evo that gives the series a major dig in the kidneys of authenticity is names like 'Manchester Bluebirds' and 'The Chelsea'. Okay so we made those names up, but we're not exaggerating too much.
We've actually been to 'Middlebrook', the substitute name for Bolton Wanderers, it's a medium sized retail park in the suburbs. Sure, it's next to The Reebok Stadium but it's still miles away in terms of sound and any real philosophy related to the team. Would 'The Wanderers' not have done? Or even Bolton's nickname 'The Trotters'?
In an ideal world we'd like PES to be as rich in licenses as its main competitor, which we know can never happen because of the stranglehold EA Sports has on that little nugget. We also know that for many, hearing a fake name or two is no biggie. It's just, for us, hearing a clearly fake name screamed from the commentary box on every shot is another reason for us to turn the sound down, and we're tired of spending weekends changing names or searching for update files.
We have to say though that things have significantly improved on this front in recent years and we're hoping to see developments in license acquisition continue at a rate. Most key players have managed to win back their names and hopefully that trend will spread further..
Now, we thought the changes Konami made to PES 2011 were all good steps if the developer wanted to begin what would be a long walk to Simulation City (or Sim City, oh no wait), but most of us would admit that given the choice we'd rather see the series revert to days of old rather than move to pastures new.
EA Sports has the footy sim genre well and truly conquered with FIFA 11 but that's not where Pro Evo's strength ever was, and if Konami realises that then there's still everything to play for.
Pro Evo's always been the spectacular sibling, the one with the goal-mouth scrambles and 30 yard screamers, the one you play with a load of mates and a beer. We'd rather have something closer to PES 4 and PES 5 than PES 2011 + 1.
It seems like a pipe dream though if we're honest. Our hope was momentarily reignited when we saw PES 3D for the first time on Ninty's new handheld. It was unmistakably modelled on that classic PES engine rather than the new one we saw last year and we loved it.
With a press release for the new game, earlier this week, talking about "a truly realistic and immersive" game, however, we think we'll be heading towards sim aspirations once again.
Fast, frantic action that's easy to pick up and difficult to master. That's what Pro Evolution Soccer is all about, we just hope this hasn't been forgotten.
WITH BETTER GRAPHICS
Of course we don't just want PES 5 shoved in a box with 2012 scratched on to it though, that would be all kinds of cheeky, but it's possible to bring those classic principles and that special feel up to date with little more than a lick of paint and some polish.
We were really impressed with a lot of what PES 2011 beamed into our eyes last year and we'll happily say that some of the player likenesses, when it came to the big boys, surpassed those of table leader FIFA.
PES 2011 also did a good job when it came to lighting the pitch, which made a big difference in terms of making your 11 men look more solid and authentic. So Konami's already moving in the right direction in terms of graphics, we just need them to be brought up to date and wrapped around the kind of game we want to play.
The overriding hope for PES 2012, then? Old philosophy, new graphics. Bingo.