Pro Evolution Soccer 2012 Demo Impressions

Welcome to page two of our Pro Evolution Soccer 2012 Demo Impressions

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The controls were the main focus in this demo, but there are some other things to mention. The new animations look fantastic, with defenders pulling off dramatic last ditch volleys out of the box. Headers and volleys in an attacking sense are still not as satisfying as they used to be, and the shooting does not seem to have been tweaked much. Furthermore, Konami have gone for the 'no-response' method to make satisfying goals. This plays on the idea that when you smash one in from 30 yards, the lack of noise and reaction from the net makes the element of disbelief at what has just happened all the more poignant. It does work, to an extent. Where it falls down is when you prod one in from 6 yards out. With commentary the effect of this may be lessened (though I tend to have commentary off), and of course Konami will have had time to fiddle with the net physics before launch.

While the graphics have not changed much, there are many new player expressions and likenesses have been tuned even more. It is still by far the best football game for player likenesses. The crowd has been revamped, and there are no longer any static onlookers. Camera-men move, camera cranes pivot to follow the ball, and you'll see suited officials jogging round the track with somewhere important to go. These small touches make the series far more credible than it has been of late.

Crowds and stadiums have been improved.

Animations stretch to quick throw-ons, which show you the player picking up the ball and allow you to get rid of it much quicker than before. Quick free kicks still don't happen as often as you would like, but the AI's decision making when taking them has been improved.

The AI generally is looking very strong. In one of the matches I played, which was AC Milan vs. Manchester United, I was holding my own until Nani skipped past two players on the wing - I stood off him, regrouping into the box, and very intelligently, the AI did not cross, but cut inside into the new space and passed short once in the box. It is probably the most impressed I have been with opposition AI in a football game, as it struck me as just the sort of thing Nani would do. Normally you can trick the AI into crossing, or clearing if they are defending, as opposed to passing it short, and Konami have done a great job of making them more unpredictable in this version. Obviously, as with all Pro Evos, the beauty comes in learning these nuances of the AI and the gameplay, as will undoubtedly happen with this version, but it is impressive nonetheless.

Scoring is not yet as satisfying as in previous versions.

A new statistics model is not the pentagon of old but is better than last year's attempt for quickly working out which player is best. Menus are virtually the same as last year's - which is good as they worked and looked quite slick. There are new 'screen wipes' when the ball goes out of play and between replays, which are slightly nauseating and may begin to grate fairly early on.

Konami should be applauded. The decision to bring out 2 demos is vindicated in the quality of this one, with the promise that the second will be even better. Giving gamers 10 minutes for a match has always marked the Japanese developer apart, and, once you have sat through the lengthy intro, you can play over and over to your heart's content. Ashley Young is in the United team, which, even though it was a transfer early in the window, is something Konami would not have bothered with in previous demos. They seem to have put some care into this, and it strikes me as the first Pro Evo which will really come close to the term 'football simulation', with all the assists off. The fact that the camera defaults to Wide, should show the direction the series is going (or returning) to. Put the assists on, and it's still accessible and fun. We'll bring you reaction to the second demo later this month.


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