Pro Evolution Soccer used to be the epitome of the soccer game genre, but has fallen on hard times lately, as the FIFA series has outclassed it every year this generation. Does PES 2012 restore the series to its former greatness? Unfortunately, no.
The first thing you’ll notice in PES 2012 is the plethora of menus you’ll have to go through to get anything accomplished. We literally went through 20 minutes of menus before we even got to the tutorials the first time we turned on PES 2012. Once you start trying to play anything other than a quick match? More menus. For a while it seemed like we would never get to actually play the game… or maybe the menus were the game. Once you do get to play, you’ll quickly find that the animations and gameplay are nowhere near as tight as they are in FIFA 12. In fact, it plays worse than FIFA 10 did. For a genre that lives off subtleties as much as it does off the major aspects of the game of soccer, it’s simply unacceptable to be as far behind the times as it is.
There is a Be A Legend mode in PES that allows you to either be a manager or a player, and you’ll follow the career of your created persona throughout this mode. It even has animated scenes between games and whenever something important happens in your career. Unfortunately, it is not voiced, it has subtitles only, which is a real damper on the scenes, as the words are hard to read at times thanks to the white lettering on a sometimes white background.
Aside from that, there’s the standard quick match mode and an online mode. Online, you can play in a quick versus match of up to 4v4 or in a ranked 1v1 or 2v2 match. It works well, with no lag to speak of, but again, you run into the problem of the actual gameplay just not being up to today’s standards.
The commentators are adequate, though the Scottish one sometimes slurs his words in a way that makes it hard to discern what exactly he is saying. As for the graphics, they are also about what we’ve seen from the series for a few years.
PES has a couple of interesting things going for it, and the presentation in the career mode is better than in FIFA, but gameplay is first and foremost for any soccer game, and it just can’t compete with FIFA on the pitch.
Pros: Career mode has a lot going for it, solid online
Cons: Gameplay lags behind other modern soccer titles, commentators aren’t that great