The 3D effect is showcased to extreme levels and shows that sports games can benefit.
Limited online can hinder longevity of game.
There have always been two main soccer games for gamers to fight over and compare. Those two games are EA’s FIFA series and Konami’s Pro Evolution Soccer franchise. Both have their pros and cons but many will tell you that PES usually wins out. One thing PES has gotten to before FIFA is 3D and the Nintendo 3DS and boy is 3D a huge gameplay addition. The extra dimension really adds to the depth of field. As usual, the screen feels bigger than it is thanks to the 3D effect but this really feels big. It’s literally hard to turn off the 3D effect without feeling like something’s missing. Also, something that finally occurs is the feeling that objects come out of the screen. Usually, most games have a very nice into the screen effect but not out. Try having the camera facing a ball that gets kicked and you’ll almost want to flinch. So maybe it isn’t too bad but the effect is there and it’s nice.
Again, this is not a gimmick. 3D really adds to the experience. Besides the 3D effect, the graphics are top notch. Definitely the best on a handheld yet and this is the first one for 3DS. On top of that, I’ll take a bet that it was rushed for the handheld’s launch. Players have a lot of detail, especially on such a small screen and each player is easily rendered on screen throughout all of the action. After a goal or a missed goal, the cutscenes are well done, zooming in close to catch the players’ emotion. On top of that, the physics and animations are done so well, you’ll think you’re playing on a home console. Definitely better than Wii anyway and thanks to the small screen, PS3 and Xbox 360 won’t seem too much better. The biggest miss are the stadiums that are filled with flat, sprite characters to fill in the stands. This is pretty understandable when the attention to detail to make sure every player is different and most are identical to their true selves but I’m willing to bet that next year’s iteration of the series will have the bottom row of onlookers jostling in the stands.
The AI is pretty well done too, especially taking into account all of the players on the field. Your teammates will try to decide when to pass and when to try and juke out the defenders. Sometimes they will try to break around the defenders too often and this can get a bit annoying. However, when getting toward the goal they really do try to do a cross at the right times. Although, I can remember getting frustrated watching my teammates just keep running toward the goal until they ran out of bounds. So sometimes the AI can be off but, for the most part, it does well. Just try and remember that this is a handheld and no other handheld soccer game has played or looked this good. It’s harder to forgive these minor problems when the game looks as good as it does.
The music and sound effects are all well done. Euro-pop and other world music genres fill the menus and halftime between periods. The 3DS’s speakers are nicely shown off, actually and you’ll probably be shaking your head and tapping your foot while negotiating contracts. The announcers, however, are a bit lame. They don’t say much and when they do, it’s a bit repetitive. Again though, don’t forget it’s a handheld and the sound may even be off a lot.
Gameplay wise, PES 2011 3D is a bit simplified but not too much. In fact, it probably helps keep the game mobile friendly. The basic controls will allow you to play and compete well in the game, but the more advanced moves are a bit harder to learn. These advanced moves will be needed when playing harder opponents or difficulty levels. Basically, the ‘A’, ‘B’, and ‘X’ buttons pass, ‘R’ sprints and ‘Y’ shoots. ‘A’ will also allow for a cross pass when deep in the opponent’s territory. There are many other advanced button combos and moves, but then there is the touchscreen which is basically only a map of the field and players and a strategy selector. Just playing with the basic controls is still pretty fun for those who don’t want to get into the harder stuff but watching your players do the special moves in 3D really is remarkable.
As for game modes, there is Exhibition, Champions’ League, Master League and Online. Sadly, it seems not too many own the game, so it is hard to find any players online. Hopefully, I can update this review later with remarks about online play. However, the other leagues have most of what you’d expect and play very true to the home console version like Master League allowing for negotiating contracts and team popularity ratings to every team being available for Champions League. It’s all there with maybe only a few small details missing.
The other thing to note is the menu. The presentation of the menu and in-game action is top-notch. Maybe it’s only because it’s a handheld and nothing like this has been seen on mobile devices yet, but it feels like a perfect experience, at least at first.
Over all, Pro Evolution Soccer 2011 3D for the Nintendo 3DS is a very good game. Again, take what I say a bit easy because I understand that this is a first in the series for the portable with new 3D effects thrown it, so some of the problems may be a bit bigger for some. PES 2011 3D is a great game and should not be missed by any soccer fan. If you like sports in general, it may not be a bad idea to pick it up either. Next year’s probably won’t be as rushed though and should prove to be even better.