Previews

PES 2011 gameplay preview

Hands On: Pro Evo gets a little more simful...

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The words of Jon Champion and Jim Beglin are sparse and severely lacking in intelligence - almost as if there's been no attempt to hide the fact that their contributions are little more than poorly acted individual phrases triggered at certain points on the pitch.

Take the ball down the wing for example and Champion will shout, "Guess who?!". We assumed the answer was, "...Jon Champion?" until we realised he was vaguely alluding to a target man on the end of any cross.

Sometimes it's just plain, hilariously wrong. In one particularly Alan Partridge moment Champion nearly broke his mic shouting "Gooooal!" simply because the ball rolled near to the line. Still, at least there's no Mark Lawrenson.

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Team-mate AI shows some silliness as well. It's smart enough for the most part, but often computer controlled players seem to lack any real vision, ambling along while you're frantically holding up play waiting for them to make a run.

Keepers are as erratic as ever; they'll make spectacular last minute saves from every angle, which really ramps up the tension when you're under the kosh in the dying minutes. Blast a ball straight at them, however, and they're more likely to crumble in a heap of quivering panic.

Scrambles in the box still leave them brain dead - as if they picked up a lobotomy at half time instead of an orange. (It's worth noting that Konami's told us keepers are likely to improve in the final build - which is music to our ears, if not our egos).

That's probably the one thing holding PES 2011 back in its shiny new simulation station. The physics are there - and, finally, 'next-gen' - but the AI still has to be taken up a notch on the smart scale to match.

Luckily, Konami merely requires a case of a quick motivational team talk rather than a complete tactical overhaul to sort it out - and we're hopeful that there's more than enough time before release to tinker.

Will PES 2011 take the top spot from FIFA? Probably not - but having shown a major leap from what we saw last year, it seems the real pressure is, for once, on EA's team, rather than Seabass et al.

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