PES 2012 review
When you think about it, PES is a lot like Arsenal. Untouchable for the first half of the past decade, pioneers of glorious, sweeping football and the scorn of many a fatpursed pretender to the title, but now dented by successive years of failure and seemingly lacking the mettle to challenge at the very top. And while PES still can’t quite overhaul the behemoth that is FIFA, some new additions and some much-needed tweaks mean that glory is at least on the horizon once again. (Mr Wenger, take note…)
The Off The Ball control system is the headliner, although at times it can feel a little bit like a panicked transfer deadline day signing: functional and capable of weaselling out the odd goalscoring opportunity, but rarely used and sometimes forgotten completely. Activated during any dead ball situation, it enables you to cycle through players using the right stick, and then jostle for space using the left.
Your marker will stick to you like an especially high maintenance limpet, so the key is to feint one way then dash the other, before releasing the ball with q or e – which automatically sends it to the player making the run. It works best for throw-ins in the final third, allowing you to grab a crucial yard of space to ping in a first-time cross.
The system works less well when whipping free kicks into the box, however, because by the time the ball arrives the defenders have adjusted to your new position and snuffed out any advantage.
The second big addition is Football Life, which supposedly combines both Master League and Be A Legend. However, unlike FIFA’s Career mode – which melds Manager mode and Be A Pro into one tidy bundle – Football Life turns out to be merely an overarching menu for two modes that remain entirely separate, and fundamentally unchanged.
The tweaks that are present occur off the pitch. Start a new Master League and you’re able to create a manager in your own likeness – much like creating a player in Be A Legend.
Numerous cut-scenes show you dealing with the press and your head coach, the latter acting as a liaison between you and the club chairman and players. The chairman may have special requests, such as completing a match without receiving any yellow cards because it’s being televised.
Similarly the players will often come to you with gripes – maybe they’re unhappy at being dropped or in a sulk because they want the number 10 shirt – and it’s your job to balance priorities and keep everyone happy.