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Pro Evolution Soccer 2012 3D - 3DS Review

Game Info
Pro Evolution Soccer 2012 3D

3DS | Konami | 1-2 Players (local multiplayer/online versus) | StreetPass Support | Play Coin Support | Out Now
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11th June 2012; By KnucklesSonic8

Two evenly-matched players prepare for the championship match of their levels. With fire in their eyes, both are set to race for the ball in the center at the blow of a whistle. As they and the rest of the crowd hear that familiar game-starting sound, they know that it's going to get rough from here on out. If this were a one-on-one match, you'd be right in saying the game could go either way. But as the game progresses and your eyes shift focus from the playmakers to the rest of the team, you recognize that that level of equal competition drops to a point where you have no doubt who's going to win. No, one team does not outnumber the other, and no, the skills of one team aren't exceedingly better than the other. But just in observing their co-operative spirit and refined plays, you feel confident that the more well-rounded team will succeed in the end. It's that same level of well-roundedness that enables Pro Evolution Soccer 2012 3D to succeed as a handheld experience. Though not quite as drastic as a jump from little leagues to professional game playing, the execution seen here over last year's entry demonstrates that the team felt it was time to get serious and, in so doing, they developed a game that was indeed worthy to be labelled as a professional soccer experience. 

    Serving a purpose you would expect it to, Pro Evolution Soccer 2012 3D is more wrought with modes and new worthwhile features while the core gameplay has largely remain unchanged. This means, then, that those who have put in time to master the controls of the former release should be able to make a smooth transition over to this one. With this in mind, I won't go into great detail on the controls as, in all fairness, they can be as functional or advanced as you want them to be; thus, they present no major problems to your progression. I will say, though, that there is a whole slew of commands to make yourself aware of, including such minor things as controlling the assisted switching and quick restart features. Here's something else that's different from the last entry: utilizing the Touch Screen as your main method of control instead of just for feints and strategy calls isn't the most fluid way to play, but it does work somewhat well. It's just that when it comes to such matters as making perfect passes, sprinting, and doing the advanced tactics, your base knowledge of the default control scheme can get in the way of having a good handle on these controls.

To get an idea of just how much ground there is to cover in this new entry, take note of the following main methods of play. First, Cup Mode is your typical mode you can just jump into and skip all the frills of the deeper options, while the different league modes -- all four of them -- offer a similarly challenging atmosphere as last year's entry. As always, you're given the ability to take on the role of a professional soccer player and see him through his career development, and this is principally served by the Become a Legend mode. Included in this is an even deeper player creator than what was seen in Pro Evolution Soccer 2011 3D along with a host of career options. These come in the form of press conferences pertaining to your signing on to a team, retirement possibilities, transfer opportunities and scouts, as well as play models that you can mold your athlete into. Even if not all of these options were necessarily present last time, they can be seen as standard and expected selections. So then, in what ways does Pro Evolution Soccer 2012 3D move away from those?

    The first of the more interesting options is World Player mode, which has you playing as though the field were a real-life testing ground and really make it count when you are given the chance to play on it. During halftime, your team manager gives you pointers on your approach with comments like "You're being way too cautious!" which can be taken as a sign that he will substitute you for another player if you don't step it up. Should you get benched, you'll still get to see the match carry on, so it doesn't become a situation where you get tired of spectating all too soon. Plus, there is an option available that can double the gameplay speed when you're observing, which is a plus. If aiming for realism with a share of simulation is your cup of tea, then World Player will be a mode you'll want to come back to fairly often.

Another new addition that has a place in the selection of available play options is World Player Mode. Some of what is seen here complements the mode just described, but what makes this an especially noteworthy choice is the great job it does of portraying that cutthroat environment of professional leagues. This includes all the hubbub that comes from negotiation, as well as what's it like to get substituted out of play or even underutilized on the team -- as if a loyal employee were about to be let go. Depending on your performance in each match, the manager will decide what role you will serve in the next round or fixture. And with comments like "I don't care how upfield you are", he isn't afraid to call you out on your weaknesses or even put the blame on you when the team's winning streak is lost. If you run around aimlessly on the field, then you definitely won't make it onto the team, so with this in mind, only intermediate and expert players need apply here as beginners will be quickly weeded out from the rest of the pack. For the reasons described above, this mode proves to be a nice test of skill and makes you feel like you're a part of something bigger than just the rote of ordinary soccer matches.

    Trying to peer into every little detail of this release will at some point take you to the Gallery option. From here, you can view your track record and see awards you've earned (such as Penalty Kick Master and other markers) for league completions. As well, by heading into the Playlist Editor, you can select which music tracks you'd like the randomizer to choose from and which ones to exclude from the list. There are 19 in total, but I found that because the same ones do keep repeating throughout the experience, being able to adjust this aspect was appreciated. Also available in this menu is the PES-Shop which makes such content available as new stadiums and ball effects. Play Coin support is made available here whereby you can cash in a single Play Coin for 100 PES Points; a pretty good deal when you actually see the point values for the different items listed. As a fun little tease, you can also use the Konami Code to unlock Touch Screen Feints. This new point system is something tangibly new to this game and while the options available won't have you coming back here for an extended period of time, it's still a nice option all the same.

Absent in the previous release, Network Mode actually makes online play a possibility now in Pro Evolution Soccer 2012 3D -- if you can find someone to play with. I think the game would've done just fine without it, considering the amount of options you already have to toy with, so this is just an added bonus. Aside from having trouble finding opponents who wanted to play at the same time as me, I was able to experience the online component, and despite my personal aspirations towards making progress in the other modes, participating in these matches can be fun once you gain the necessary experience.

    Speaking in general terms, I find the AI in this year's release is overall more responsive, and even when it comes to the automatic switching to nearby players when on defense, the game does this in a slightly better fashion as well. I still feel the AI is frustrating at times, but matches seem more fair despite the competitive drive that affects the computers just as much as it is reflected in your own actions. You may want to chock this up to the definition of the experience, partly because you're able to do things on the fly without great thought behind button presses or follow-throughs. But in truth, this is really just more of a relative refinement than something that has undergone major tweaking.

As far as presentation goes, Pro Evolution Soccer 2012 3D's character models look about the same (much like the overall visuals) with slight framerate dips when players are shown up close on-screen. There is also, once again, small text that is seen across much of package and in some cases it becomes a bit bothersome. While I did hear one or two comments that were new, overall the developers decided to reuse much of the same audio commentary again in this year's follow-up. It's not necessarily a bad thing, but having played the previous title, I started to get annoyed every tenth time I heard about a "superb intervention".

    At the end of the day, if soccer games are your forte, then Pro Evolution Soccer 2012 3D will be seen as a solid fix. There are still some areas for improvement, but Konami has made such definite and clear updates since last year's first entry that make this feel much more robust. It's definitely the best handheld soccer experience currently available for the Nintendo 3DS right now, so with a recommendation like that, I doubt you'll regret purchasing this title for your collection.

24/30 - Very Good

Gameplay 8/10 - Gameplay largely unchanged, touch controls are pretty good but not always ideal, better AI, stronger competitive drive present
Presentation 7/10 - Much remains the same, nice range of music but some tracks repeat often, similar commentary, framerate not perfect
Enjoyment 4/5 - Feels much more robust than the previous entry, captures a professional and authentic feel, still some room for improvement
Extra Content 5/5 - PES-Shop provides new bonuses you can purchase, new modes are enjoyable variations, online play, support for more 3DS functions

Equivalent to a score of 80% (percentage score is approximate and based solely on the previously stated rating) - Our Rating System

Review by KnucklesSonic8

Pro Evolution Soccer 2012 3D
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